Maintaining civilian morale during the long years of the war was crucial to its successful prosecution. Companies once again tailored their advertisements to send this message. We have already seen how companies explained why civilian products would no longer be available or would be in short supply and how they emphasized the importance of conservation. Many advertisements of the period also tried to define the "American values" the country was fighting to defend and many of the messages were heavy on sentiment and nostalgia. Advertisements of this kind often emphasized the "girl back home" waiting for soldiers to return.


LIFE Magazine May 10, 1943; page 97

This May 1943 Texaco Company advertisement recalled Hitler's bombing raids on London in which 42,000 people were killed. The picture, produced by an unidentified commercial artist, depicts a nurse (somewhat incongruously attractively made up and coiffed) holding an infant, cowering before an explosion. The text reminds readers of Texaco's redirection of its refining capacities to war products and that we fight  "for a future... where never again can savagery take the place of government."


LIFE Magazine March 15, 1943; page 97

This March 1943 public service advertisement by the Magazine Publishers of America urged total and active support of the war effort by the civilian population by directly tying such efforts to the life and death struggles of the military. The advertisement is striking in its use of religious imagery comparing the soldier's sacrifice to Christ's: it depicts a dead soldier whose head is wrapped in barbed wire, recalling Christ's crown of thorns, and a fence post in the shape of a cross.

John Philip Falter (1910-1982) was an American artist best known for his many cover paintings for The Saturday Evening Post. In 1943, he enlisted in the Navy, where his talents were applied to the American war effort to aid recruiting drives. Falter designed over 300 recruiting posters.

For more information on Falter, see the "Artists" page in this exhibit.


LIFE Magazine, October 26, 1942

This October 1942 Texaco advertisement offered a more light-hearted explanation of the American values the country was defending in the war against the Axis powers. The drawing, by an unidentified commercial artist, depicts a civilian laden with military clothing and equipment marching off to war to defend his right to "boo the Dodgers" and to "squawk when I think things could be run better" The text of the ad references the Brooklyn Dodgers, who were often used as a symbol of the "Mom, Baseball and Apple Pie" depiction of the American values in the period. The ad's text celebrates the accomplishments of American industry, and specifically Texaco, in providing the materials of war.