Because there are so many forms of communication, adverts constantly surround us affecting our perception about topics and often prompts us to generalise, for example, stereotypes. I decided to study a classic advert. The ‘We Can Do It’ advert was originally an ‘American wartime propaganda’ intended to boost morale and exhort women who were recruited for the army to work harder during World War II. It was produced by J. Howard Miller in 1943 for Westinghouse Electric, who were contracted by the U.S. army to produce M1 helmets for the second world war. The poster is often thought to be based off a black and white wire service photograph of Geraldine Hoff, a factory worker from Michigan. Although the poster was rarely seen during the war, it was ‘re-discovered’ in the early 1980’s and was used to promote feminism as well as other issues regarding gender equality.
The advert depicts the cultural icon, Rosie the Riveter (based off the photo of Geraldine Hoff) flexing her right arm, saying ‘We Can Do It’. She is depicted to be strong and physically imposing contrary to the popular belief at the time. The colour used focuses mainly on the primary colours (red, yellow, blue). The background is yellow, her bandana is red while her blouse is blue. The background was probably painted yellow to make the poster more easy on the eye as well as to accentuate the Rosie’s arms. Only the upper body of Rosie is shown with her occupying the majority of the poster while the text covers the top of the poster. Rosie’s face is facing towards the camera while her body was facing left. Therefore, she covers most of the left side of the poster while her arms cover the center as well a small part of the right side.
The slogan of the poster states, ‘We Can Do It!’. The closest font matched is called Ebisu Black. It is a bold Sans Serif font. This font was chosen as it is likely to have a strong impact on the audience. It is also appropriate to fit the traditional American art style. It is not too modern yet not too playful compared to Comic Sans. The speech bubble is navy blue and the text is white to create a nice contrast. Because there’s only 4 words on the advert, most of the attention is drawn to that, therefore, succeeding in elucidate the message.
At first I thought this advert would be used to motivate women into the entering and being recruited by the army. However, after some research, I discovered this was strictly used internally at Westinghouse Electric to motivate the women who were producing the M1 helmets for the soldiers to work harder.
Rosie is portrayed to have a ‘hard’ face as well as having large, muscular arms, contrary to the stereotype. At the time of World War II, women were portrayed to be weaker and more frail compared to the physically larger and more ‘macho’ men. However, this advert proves that women can match the physical power of men, if not further exceed it. I believe the purpose of it is to help women as a whole. It can convey self-empowerment, as well as other issues regarding gender roles and stereotypes.