Although there are many propaganda techniques in use in our society and some are known by a variety of names, bellow are the definitions and examples of twelve of the most widely used. Students are asked to understand and be able to see the use of the techniques bellow in the real world in order for them to be more aware of their use in our society. We use the techniques bellow in conjunction with our study of Animal Farm and our Governance Unit.
ANIMAL FARM Propaganda Techniques
There are many techniques commonly used in dissemination of propaganda. Use this handout to help you identify different types of propaganda.
BANDWAGON: The basic idea behind the bandwagon approach is just that “getting on the bandwagon.” The propagandist puts forth the idea that everyone is doing this, or everyone supports this person/cause, so should you. The bandwagon approach appeals to the conformist in all of us: No one wants to be left out of what is perceived to be a popular trend.
Example: Everyone in Lemmingtown is behind Duffie for Mayor. Shouldn’t you be part of the winning team?
EUPHEMISM: When propagandists use glittering generalities and name-calling symbols, they are attempting to arouse their audience with vivid, emotionally suggestive words. In certain situations, however, the propagandist attempts to pacify the audience in order to make an unpleasant reality more palatable. This is accomplished by using words that are bland and euphemistic.
Example: America changed the name of the War Department to the Department of Defense. Under the Reagan Administration, the MX-Missile was renamed “The Peacekeeper.”
TESTIMONIAL: This is the celebrity endorsement of a philosophy, movement or candidate. In advertising, for example, athletes are often paid millions of dollars to promote sports shoes, equipment and fast food. In political circles, movie starts, television starts, rock stars and athletes lend a great deal of credibility and power to a political cause or candidate. Just a photograph of a movie star at a political rally can generate more interest in that issue/candidate and cause thousands, sometimes millions of people to become supporters.
Example: “Sam Slugger,” a baseball Hall of Famer who led the pros in hitting for years, appears in a TV commercial ad supporting Mike Politico for the US Senate. Since Sam is well known and respected in his home state and nationally, he will likely gain Mr. Politico many votes just by his appearance with the candidate.
PLAIN FOLKS: Here the candidate or cause is identified with common people from everyday walks of life. The idea is to make the candidate/cause come off as grassroots and all-American.
Example: After a morning speech to wealthy Democratic donors, Bill Clinton stops by McDonald’s for a burger, fries and photo-up.
TRANSFER: Transfer employs the use of symbols, quotes or the images of famous people to convey a message not necessarily associated with them. In the use of transfer, the candidate/speaker attempts to persuade us through the indirect use of something we respect, such as a patriotic or religious image, to promote his/her ideas. Religious and patriotic images may be most commonly used in this propaganda technique but they are not alone. Sometimes even science becomes the means to transfer a message.
Example: The environmentalist group People Promoting Plants, in its attempt to prevent a highway from destroying the natural habitat of thousands of plant species, produces a television ad with a “scientist” in a white coat explaining the dramatic consequences of altering the food chain by destroying this habitat.
FEAR: This technique is very popular among political parties and PCAs (Political Action Committees) in the U.S. The idea is to present a dreaded circumstance and usually follow it up with the kind of behavior needed to avoid that horrible event.
Example: The Citizens for Retired Rights present a magazine ad showing an elderly couple living in poverty because their social security benefits have been drastically cut by Republicans in Congress. The solution? The CRR urges you to vote for Democrats.
LOGICAL FALLACIES: Applying logic, one can usually draw a conclusion from one or more established premises. In the type of propaganda known as logical fallacy, however, the premises may e accurate, but the conclusion is not.
Example: Premise 1: Bill Clinton supports gun control.
Premise 2: Communist regimes have always supported gun control.
Conclusion: Bill Clinton is a communist.
We can see that in this example the conclusion is created by a twisting of logic, and is therefore a fallacy.
FAULTY CAUSE & EFFECT: This is very similar to LOGICAL FALLACIES. Here, the use of a significant statement of “Fact” is used without offering a cause or reason.
Example: “Nuclear energy means cleaner air.”
GLITTERING GENERALITIES: This approach is closely related to what is happening in TRANSFER. Here, a generally accepted virtue is usually employed to stir up favorable emotions. The problem is that these words mean different things to different people and are often manipulated for the propagandists’ use. The important thing to remember is that in this technique the propagandist uses these words in a positive sense. They often include words like: democracy, family values (when used positively), rights, civilization, even the word “American.”
Example: An ad by a cigarette manufacturer proclaims to smokers: Don’t let them take your rights away! (“Rights” is a powerful word, something that stirs the emotions of many, but few on either side would agree on exactly what the “rights” of smokers are).
NAME-CALLING: This is the opposite of GLITTERING GENERALITIES approach. Name-calling ties a person or cause to a largely perceived negative image.
Example: In an ad campaign speech to a logging company, the Congressman referred to his environmentally conscious opponent as a “tree hugger.”
SCAPEGOAT: The use of blame, implied or overt toward a group or individual to hide the truth or real source of the problem.
Example: Hitler blamed the Jews for many of the social and economic problems in Germany.
OVERSIMPLIFICATION: The use of a phrase or slogan, which tries to capture truth, but actually masks it.
Example: Nike’s slogan: “Just Do It.”