Recruitment Posters and Propaganda


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Australia and World War I

The word propaganda refers to any technique that attempts to influence the opinions, emotions, attitudes, or behavior of a group in order to benefit a cause or sponsor. The techniques of propaganda are used every day, in the military, in the media, in advertising, in politics, and in all sorts of human relationships. Instead of impartially providing information propaganda can be deliberately misleading.
To protect yourself against the techniques of propaganda, three good questions to ask yourself are:
  • Who does this benefit?
  • Why did they do that?
  • According to whom?

In World War I, the Australian Government used propaganda posters to gain and maintain support for the war and to encourage enlistment. Techniques included:
  • giving people a direct order, such as ‘Join Up Today!’. People felt that someone in authority was telling them what to do
  • appealing to feelings of nationalism and patriotism
  • simplifying an idea to make it attractive or acceptable
  • projecting a positive image and suggesting that the target audience can acquire this image by following the order the poster provides
  • choosing words and phrases portraying positive concepts, such as ‘support’.
  • creating fear of enemy invasion and uncertainty of personal safety
Some propaganda posters also portrayed the enemy as barbaric, non-human and incapable of justice or compassion. They highlighted negative or unacceptable ideas in which opponents supposedly believed. They used stereotyping to make everything about the enemy unacceptable.

Examine the messages portrayed in the posters below and determine which propaganda techniques are being used.
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