[PAPER] Propaganda with a Mission: Learning from the Second World War for the Christian Sector in a Digital Age


A paper submitted for the first European Association for the Study of Religion, Economics, and Culture, to be held in September in Durham:

In the Second World War, British propaganda posters were circulated using the techniques of persuasion, education, information, celebration, encouragement, morale boosting, and identification of enemies to encourage civilians to understand and undertake their responsibilities in ‘The People’s War’.

In the face of oft-reported declines in church membership, there is urgency for the church to recognize the possibilities of online spaces. The author of a PhD on the above topic developed The BIGBible Project in 2010. The Project blog curates contributions from #DIGIdisciples, questioning what it means to be a Christian in a digital age and in the digital environment. What do digital technologies allow us to do differently, and what can we learn from the past?

The conference paper will draw from the rich collection of over 2,750 #digidisciple posts to demonstrate the potential that the digital has offered the Christian sector, whilst also emphasizing continuity with the past.

Propaganda Poster Museum, Shanghai

shanghai-propaganda-posterMaybe I will get to go there one day:

Communique No. 8: In China, communist propaganda has gone underground.
In fact, the only place you can see idealized posters of Mao and his cadres of heroic workers building utopian communities is in a basement level museum tucked away in a nondescript apartment building in downtown Shanghai.
The Propaganda Poster Museum is the private project of Yang Pei Ming, who supports this labor of love by selling admission tickets and gifts in this subterranean enclave of political nostalgia. If you leave your change, Yang will find you and return it.

25 inspiring not-for-profit ads

I’m always interested in ‘advertising’ that is not to sell a product, but has to sell an idea/concept, as they did in the war. An amazing collection of 25 advertisements by not-for-profit organisations who wanted to step up to the plate and be noticed amongst quality modern advertising… and this one particularly drew my attention:


Effective Advertising: Naked Policeman?


See what Lancashire Police have to say:

“What do I have to do to get you to notice me?” That’s the question that Lancashire Constabulary are continuing to ask motorists on behalf of bikers with the launch of two new billboards.

The new large posters appear on billboards in the Tulketh Brow area of Preston and near Asda on Ovangle Road in Lancaster, available to view until 28 July.

They feature a roads policing officer naked on a motorbike with the aim of making drivers think whether would notice a motorcyclist if they were riding naked because they should really look out for them at all times.

Read full article.

University Branding?

Really interesting piece in Times Higher Education about Universities and branding (or propaganda!):

Although I hate much of the jargon of branding – “positioning”, “differentiation”, “USP” – I believe that the discipline of branding is a good thing for any organisation.

It’s a good thing because trying to build a brand forces1185407_brands_flood you to answer some fundamental “why” questions. Why should I apply to your university? Why should I work for you? Why should I fund your research? Why should I care? Why should you exist? Branding at its best is radical – it goes to the roots, and it creates change.

And the truth is that both universities and branding are changing. Universities are of course competing more than ever. Today’s (slightly unhinged) obsessionwith league tables simply shows people’s need to compare, separate and distinguish among a mass of similar-looking institutions. Students, parents, employers, academics and governments are inexorably demanding more of universities. And the digital transformation of education is only just starting. Like it or not, universities will have to explain their role, their value, to the world.

Meanwhile, branding is not what it was. It’s no longer primarily about persuasion – making people want things.

People today are well-informed, powerful and awkward, and easily decode traditional branding. They’re less “consumers” and more what the French call consommacteurs. They want to know what, in exchange for their money, time, effort and data, you will enable them to do. Many newer brands – Google, Facebook, Wikipedia – act in this way, as platforms, not as persuaders.

Read full article.

Writing Persuasively?

Image Credit: Sxc.Hu

Image Credit: Sxc.Hu

Fascinating insight into writing persuasively:

I never had a single rejection as a fiction writer, but that was because I spent an eight-year apprenticeship as an advertising copywriter, learning to use words to persuade and convince (I nearly wrote corrupt), everything I wrote subjected to reading and noting tests, every word graded according to efficacy. I learned to identify with readers, the uses and abuses of typography, how one enthusiastic adjective makes three times the impression of two, how to fill a brief, how to write for the press, for the screen, for audio. I had the vague impression when I began that publishers published my early novels un-interfered with because I was a “natural” and grew very conceited, but actually it was because I was properly trained.

Read full article.

Book Review: Patriotism & Propaganda in First World War Britain

This looks like an interesting book – not reviewed by me I hasten to add:

Gradually, much of the scaffolding of the influential, but historically inaccurate, depiction of British opinion during the First World War, reflected in countless novels as well as older historical studies, is being dismantled. The disillusionment of the war poets is no longer seen as typical of soldiers’ attitudes and the fortitude of British society is increasingly recognised. The view of public opinion in 1914 as overwhelmed by war hysteria and unthinking jingoism has been replaced by one of a reluctant but resolute nation convinced of the justice of the war. But the question remains as to how morale was maintained as the conflict dragged on and the casualties and deaths mounted. David Monger addresses this question in a detailed examination of the role of the hitherto unexplored history of the National War Aims Committee (NWAC), a semi-official parliamentary organisation set up with cross-party support in the summer of 1917.

Read full review.