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The 16 Most Hilariously Ineffective Propaganda Posters

War is hell, and tragedy, and terrible, terrible posters. Once again we have delved into the world of unintentionally hilarious propaganda, and this time we've dug out twice as many posters from the U.S., just to prove that we can be just as obliviously ridiculous as the rest of the world.

#16. Every Canadian Must Fight (Canada)

Via Historygallery.com

The Message:

To settle once and for all that all Canadians can fight world wars, and not just the ones dressed as soldiers, as is generally assumed.

The Problem:

"Listen. I know you're busy and all. I brought you this box of chocolates. I just want you to know that you're doing a great job here, and ... wow, what shampoo is that? Your neck hair smells really nice. Anyway. I'll leave you to it. I'll just leave the chocolates over here. Again, great job with the-ARGH I'VE BEEN SHOT AS WELL!"

#15. Save Your Child (USA)

Via Washington.edu

The Message:

Apparently the U.S. government was really, really strapped for cash during World War I. By buying Savings Stamps, you could help win the war and prevent a bleak future for your children.

The Problem:

For starters, that kid is wearing socks with her sandals, which is a major fashion faux pas. And secondly, that's all she's wearing.

"Hey, we tried to warn you, dads. Didn't you see the poster?"

It's hard to understand what exactly they were going for here. Poverty will strip your child naked, so we're guessing autocracy is the one to blame for having her straddle a giant stone hand making an unfortunate gesture. And if that's supposed to be the Statue of Liberty, then this image could only take place at some point in the transition between the present and the apocalyptic future of Planet of the Apes. All because you were too cheap to buy some stamps.

#14. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes ... (Nazi Germany)

Via M16.cn

The Message:

The message here is that surrendering to the Third Reich will vastly improve your chances of getting laid. No, seriously: Another part of this German leaflet supposedly stated that "POWs have a better chance for romance than crippled fighters," which paints a grossly inaccurate picture of how the Nazis dealt with prisoners.

This leaflet is tame compared to some of the more graphic stuff the Germans and Japanese dropped on Allied territory during World War II, showing, for example, nude women engaged in sexual activities with subtitles like "The Girl You Left Behind" or "While You Are Away," with the purpose of demoralizing enemy troops.


The Problem:

If by "demoralize" they actually meant "give them boners," then the operation was a smashing success. Rather than weeping inconsolably and turning themselves in, Allied soldiers laughed off the transparent intent of the propaganda, then disappeared behind bushes for the next 15 minutes. Pornographic leaflets were avidly anticipated, collected and traded by the soldiers, who, after losing interest in a particular picture, simply used it as toilet paper.

In gratitude to the Germans for this invaluable service, British Intelligence used the '40s equivalent of Photoshop to create a fake picture of Hitler performing an intimate act in public. We'll just show you the original and let you guess what we mean.

Via Whale.to
And now you know where Photoshop trolls were invented.

#13. Only a Kid (USA)

Via Umedia.lib.umn.edu

The Message:

Eastern Aircraft was a division of General Motors created in 1942 after the government shut down the production of civilian cars to focus on building stuff they could use to shoot Japanese people. Apparently GM's reconverted fighter-plane-building plants did not look terribly impressive at first.

The Problem:

Check out the biceps on that kid. You know what, forget airplanes, let's put a bunch of toddlers armed with monkey wrenches on a ship and let them loose on Japan. Everything indicates that this baby is getting ready to kick some ass: the clenched fist, the spread-out legs, the vacant yet mildly strained expression ... he ... he's pooping himself, isn't he?

"I got a bomb for ya, Germany."

#12. Loaded? (USA)

Via Lukegregory.com

The Message:

Keep your gun in your pants, soldier.

The Problem:

... 'cause you never know if she's packing one, too. The suspicious neck protuberance on the one in the middle is a dead giveaway, but it isn't always that easy to spot a cross-dresser. On a more serious note, it's a little disturbing that the 1940s definition of "loose women" included showing them always keeping one eye invisible and wearing funny hats. And on a similar note ...

#11. "I Wish I Were a Man" (USA)

Via History.navy.mil

The Message:

A slightly passive-aggressive way of getting you to join the Navy.

The Problem:

Unless you don't happen to own a set of testicles, that is: In that case, you'd better go and get yourself some. In that sense, this poster is surprisingly progressive: The girl says she'd like to be a man and join the Navy (two separate but related wishes), and the poster reassuringly responds with "Be a man and do it -- what the hell do we care?" See, you only thought it was terribly sexist.

#10. Patriotic Bleach Ad in World War I (France)

Via Ww1propaganda.com

The Message:

The French prime minister will wipe those Germans out of the country, quite literally. Meanwhile, the French spirit stands triumphant, and in the shape of a rooster.

The Problem:

We could translate all of the text on this poster, but quite frankly, that ruins it. They tried so hard to pile layer on top of layer of symbolism here that, without any text to guide you through it, becomes a tableau of madness itself. So we're going to translate it as "Apologize! Apologize to my cock, you drunken pope!"

#9. I Need Smokes (USA)

Via Usapropaganda.com

The Message:

These men are risking their butts to defend world freedom in World War I while you're sitting at home, staring at posters. The least you could do is send them some cigarettes.

The Problem:

No, seriously, someone give this man some nicotine soon or he's gonna project his fist right through the poster and into your face. Look at his eyes!

Previous iterations of the campaign were more honest about his intent.

Perhaps the poster's original intent was more clear before the fedora went out of fashion as a military accessory, but today the complete lack of context makes the "soldier" look like a '30s gangster attempting to make you piss yourself with nothing but one finger and his unblinking glare. Fortunately, other posters in this campaign managed to add more information while keeping matters just as urgent.

Via Umedia.lib.umn.edu
"Seriously. We have guns."

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