Anti-War Advertising: How To “Unsell The War”
San Francisco (LNS) — Henry Fonda appears on the TV screen:
“When I was a kid, I used to be really proud of this country. I thought that this was a country that cared about people no matter who they were or where they came from. But now, when I see my country engaged in an endless war, a push-button war in which American pilots and electronic technicians are killing thousands of Asians without even seeing who they kill.
“When I see us each week stepping up the tonnage of bombs dropped on Indochina…then I don’t feel so proud any more. Because I thought that was what bad countries did…not my country.”
The Fonda testimonial is one of ten new anti-war television spots in the Help Unsell the War campaign, a project sponsored by Clergy and Laymen Concerned, an ecumenical peace group. Unsell is trying, with some success, to use the advertising industry to help make people more aware of the war. In addition to the TV spots, radio commercials and ads in newspapers and magazines have been produced for the campaign.
The spark for Unsell was struck when a Yale University student named Ira Nerkin saw the CBS television documentary, “The Selling of the Pentagon.” The program showed how the Pentagon spends millions of tax dollars on pro-military propaganda in the mass media. Nerkin felt that the anti-war movement might also be able to use the same media.
He had friends in the advertising industry who put him in touch with people interested in helping out. The ads were ready by the summer of 1971 and Clergy and Laymen Concerned was approached and agreed to sponsor the project.
Clergy and Laymen set up a network of committees around the country which — making use of its status as a church group — approached local stations and papers requesting that the spots be run free of charge as public service advertising. About 25% of those contacted agreed; in some cases where media outlets refused, funds were raised and the ads placed as paid commercials. — Bill Gerson
Putting aside all the slogans about peace and martyrdom, WHY did a 51-year-old San Gabriel Valley mother and housewife drive downtown last Sunday on a blazing hot afternoon to drench her body in two gallons of gasoline, strike a match and die alone and screaming in a silent Civic Center?
Jeffrey Blankfort for San Francisco Express Times (1968)
“The demonstration had the tone of a festival and a religious ceremony. At the Panhandle where students and young people gathered earlier to march on the Federal Building, everyone was good-natured. 500 people lounged in the sun under the monument to William McKinley. There were dogs, daisies, harmonicas, cameras, kazoos, guitars and gentle conversation.”
“A Torch for Joan,” Berkeley Barb (1968)
“Joan Baez and Ira Sandperl, received an unexpected visit last Sunday from a good friend — Dr. Martin Luther King. Joan and Ira are serving 45-day sentences at Santa Rita for singing Xmas Carols in the right places.
Dr. King interrupted a busy schedule to fly out from Atlanta. He explained he was returning a favor by visiting Joan, her mother and Mr. Sandperl, “in appreciation for what they are doing for the peace movement.”
King recalled the many occasions when Joan and Ira had supported the struggle for civil rights — at Selma, Alabama, Grenada, Mississippi, and in Washington D.C.
After visiting for an hour, Dr. King held a roadside press conference. Over a hundred friends listened as King, referring to the civil rights and peace movements said: “I see these two struggles as one struggle. There can be no justice without peace and there can be no peace without justice.”
Answering critics who have charged that he has been “getting out of his field” by speaking on the war, Dr. King replied, “I have been working too long and too hard now against segregated public accommodations to end up at this stage of my life segregating my moral concern.”
“I want to make it very clear,” Dr. King declared, “that I’m going to continue, with all my might, with all my energy, and with all my action to oppose that abominable, evil, unjust war in Vietnam.”