During World War II, propaganda posters represented America’s unity: It was “us vs. them” during a difficult time. Today’s Americans may also feel they live in difficult times, with the economic climate enduringly bleak and the nation’s leaders mired in partisan bickering. But if there’s an “us vs. them” mentality, it’s a sense of the people vs. big institutions, especially the government. Americans feel deserted by their leaders—perceived as putting political interests before those of the people—and there’s no longer a sense that we’re all on the same team. (For instance, in a JWT survey conducted last year using our propriety online tool SONAR™, almost 8 in 10 expressed dissatisfaction with the government and only 12 percent viewed Congress favorably.)
In response, the 2-year-old Chamomile Tea Party has bought backlit platform ad space in the Washington, D.C., Metro to display posters inspired by WWII-era propaganda, speaking out against Washington’s partisan bickering and stalemates. For example, one headline reads: “I lost my job… And my home and my health care and my retirement and my self-esteem, while you played party politics.” The organization, founded by a graphic designer, is dedicated to disrupting partisan gridlock. The posters are bold and striking in tone and imagery. And by harking back to old propaganda messaging, they remind us of a time when America came together, a sobering contrast to the divisiveness of today. As the election nears, it will be interesting to see if other organizations or marketers tap into Americans’ discontent with and anxiety over the status quo.
Photo Credit: outtacontext