The 1940s was was quite a decade for the Western world. Beginning with unimaginable suffering and loss, it emerged from the darkness of World War Two to into a brighter place full of hope, freedom, and a new-found enthusiasm for consumerism. America led the way on all fronts, and a new book looking back at US advertising from the 1940s perfectly encapsulates the period with its selection of ads, both innocent and sinister, that illustrate just what interesting times they were.
The blend of advertising and propaganda used during the war was an important tool in raising morale among the American people and maintaining their vigilance against the threat of Nazi activity on home soil. Ads such as that placed by American Locomotive – A High Honour for your Daughter – painted a chilling picture of the German regime, playing on the fear of American parents that their beloved girls would be shipped off to breed with Nazis in their quest to engineer the master race. Ad agencies hadn’t yet heard of political correctness either; these were the days when well-to-do families had negro servants, women stayed at home and kept house (in full make-up of course) and smoking was still the height of sophistication. But it was also a profoundly exciting time for American consumers, as technology advanced, new man-made materials were invented and the possibilities for humanity seemed boundless. All-American Ads of the 1940s is published by Taschen.