The Advertising Council and the Cold War

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communications


George Comstock


Propaganda, Public relations

Subject Categories

Mass Communication


During World War II, the advertising industry organized the War Advertising Council to conduct public information campaigns in support of the war effort. After the war, the Advertising Council was established to provide advertising campaigns for government programs and charitable causes. The goals of the postwar council were to build favorable public opinion toward advertising and to cement positive relations with federal government officials. Between 1945 and 1952, the early years of the Cold War, Americans came to fear the Soviet Union. During these years the Advertising Council conducted mass media campaigns in support of the American Economic System, the Freedom Train, and the Ground Observer Corps. This study analyzes these campaigns in regard to the motives of the advertising executives involved, the themes and techniques used, and the outcomes in light of the stated campaign goals. This study finds that there is little or no evidence to determine if the American Economic System campaign reached its goal. The evidence on the Freedom Train and Ground Observer Corps campaigns indicates that these efforts did not achieve their stated goals; however, they did help the council achieve its goal of developing beneficial relationships with government officials.


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