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The War Advertising Council's first campaign, the Savings
(or War) Bonds campaign, encouraged Americans to support the
war effort by purchasing war bonds. The bonds were referred
to as Defense Bonds until 1942 when agency executive Walter
Weir decided it was more logical to call them War Bonds.
From January 15, 1942 to August 14, 1945, the organized power
of advertising focused on informing the American people what
needed to be done to win World War II quickly and buying war
bonds was near the top of that list. In that time, American
advertising and media businesses contributed an estimated
$350 million worth of space and time in support of war bond
promotion and approximately 85 million Americans bought more
than 800 million war bonds.
After World War II, the bonds were called Savings Bonds and
the ads promoting them appealed to prudent investment rather
than patriotism. The name War Bonds returned a short time
later to coincide with the Korean War. President Lyndon Johnson
wanted to renew a full-blown War Bond campaign during the
Vietnam War, but that war was a controversial and divisive
issue for the public. Consequently, the Ad Council only felt
comfortable creating ads showing soldiers - but not mentioning
Vietnam - with the theme: "They buy bonds where they
work. Do you?"
By the time the U.S. Government Savings Bond campaign ended
in 1980, the campaign drew $75 million annually in donated
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