Plentiful ammunition and well-trained troops alone could not ensure nations of total victory. Government officials soon realized that the maintenance of public morale was a key to winning on the battlefield. The fight for the public’s hearts and minds involved the employment of both the traditional and more modern forms of propaganda. In his memoirs, George Creel, head of America’s Committee for Public Information, wrote,
There was no part of the great war machinery that we did not touch,
no medium of appeal that we did not employ. The printed word, the
spoken word, the motion picture, the telegraph, the cable, the wire-
less, the poster, the sign-board—all these were used in our campaign
to make our people and all other peoples understand the causes that
compelled America to take arms.
When patriotic speeches by officials, clergymen, and distinguished citizens, advocating continued prosecution of the war to the bitter end, were insufficient to drive home the message, new forms of cultural enticements, among them posters and the cinema, were tapped to motivate the public.
Poster art served as an eye-catching display of patriotic fervor. Unlike other forms of propaganda such as literature, which required individuals to commit time (and money) to the story before the “punch line” was revealed, poster art required neither because its appeal relied exclusively upon immediate visual or sensual response. Governments recruited artists to elicit a sense of duty and patriotism from their citizens. In Britain, Lord Beaverbrook, appointed minister of information in 1917, tapped artists and scholars to place their