The Development and Repeal of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” Red Poster Campaign During World War II in Britain

The Publicity Division of the U.K. Ministry of Information developed a propaganda campaign prior to World War II in August of 1939. Part of this collection was the iconic red “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster which was designed to be issued at a later date when morale was in need of a boost after destruction and conflict had begun to take place. It is believed that the Keep Calm and Carry On slogan is the best known of all war time campaigns in Britain. The Home Intelligence agency, tasked with monitoring public sentiment and morale, commissioned a survey to study how effective the red poster campaign was at increasing the confidence of the public within the British government. The British government quickly discovered that contrary to expectations, the public found the red posters patronizing and with overtones of an out of touch ruling class pressuring the working class to rise up and defend the state, the very same narrative which was felt by the majority of the public during World War I which was in recent memory for the majority of the British population. Because the red poster campaign was considered a failure, in early 1940, the Keep Calm and Carry On poster among all others were shelved indefinitely with virtually all 2,400,000 (2.4 million) copies rescinded and destroyed

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