Friday, May 22, 2009



An interesting article about Propaganda posters. While in China you see them at almost every corner of the streets but us foreigner (or at least the ones who don’t master the Chinese language!) don’t pay too much attention.

Propaganda Posters: Do They Really Have an Effect?

If you live in China, you’ve seen them. Even if you can’t read Chinese, you can probably guess what they’re saying. They’re the red and yellow banners fluttering from official buildings everywhere, the tackily illustrated posters telling you not to spit on the street, and the collages of hundreds of smiling Chinese faces with big characters telling you: “A Harmonious Society Comes From the Heart.” They’re commonly called propaganda, though they might just as aptly be labeled public service announcements of a sort. Few countries have them in the abundance China does, so one can’t help but wonder, are they actually doing anything?
Most foreigners tune them out, and many Chinese people would report the same. But that might not matter. While (as far as we can tell), there aren’t any studies of these posters and banners specifically, studies of advertisements generally have shown that ads can and do have an effect on the viewer — even when the viewer’s focus is elsewhere. [A] Study found that banner ads on websites are effective even when viewers don’t notice them or click on them. If public service ads work the same way (and why wouldn’t they), all those messages about harmonious and civilized society might well be working their way into your brains.
But wait, it gets creepier! According to [another] study, subliminal advertising and more subtle product placement is actually more effective, apparently “because people don’t have time to raise their anti-ad defenses.” […]
[Still,] there is no clear evidence to demonstrate that propaganda posters have been either effective or ineffective in inculcating thought and behavior.
There’s “no clear evidence”, yet the posters remain. One wonders if perhaps the government knows something about them we don’t. Certainly, effort goes into making these things and keeping them posted all over the country. Is it all a wasted effort? Tough to say. Obviously someone thinks it isn’t.(chinageeks)

Check out this website for some great posters.