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Wartime Advertisements


The most effective and refined wartime advertisements were those created by the automobile, heavy equipment and farm industries. These manufacturers had no need to promote sales as almost all of their factories had been converted to produce war supplies and equipment.

Despite the advertisements, vehicles that normally rolled off the assembly lines - cars, trucks, tractors etc. - were prioritized for military use and for those employed with the Wartime Price and Trade Board. This hierarchical system terminated with the end of the war.

Soft Goods

While the purpose of advertisements is to sell products, during the war years, advertisements were used for rallying purposes. They were distributed to seed patriotism and national morale amongst the general public and soldiers. In fact, advertisers played a significant role in generating nation-wide support for the war effort. The repeated patriotic themes present in wartime advertisements directly contributed to Canadians supporting the war effort in a number of different ways, including financial contributions and volunteerism.

Ford of Canada

A look at Ford of Canada provides an ideal example industrial advertisementing during the Second World War.


As soon as war was declared, Ford of Canada devoted much of their resources and facilities to the Canadian military. So extensive was the company’s commitment that Ford engineering and design departments began adhering to production guidelines set out by the Canadian government. Federal guidelines were followed in the production and assembly of five different types of army vehicles. By 1941, more than twenty types of Ford military vehicles were in production, amounting to 100,000 in total. Advertisements illustrated efficient, organized and rapid mass production of military vehicle as well as shipments.


By 1942, Canadian-made military equipment was in high demand. Calls came from Great Britain, North Africa, Russia and even Asia. Thus, commercial vehicle production for civilians came to a sudden halt. Wartime advertisements focused on motivating Ford employees to build better military equipment. Spurred by meesages of patriotism, civilians recognized the need for Ford to solely focus on the production of military vehicles. Indirectly, average citizens contributed to the war effort by placing military priorities above their own personal interests.


In 1943, news arrived in Canada that 40,000 mechanical transport units directly contributed to North African offensive. With Canadian armed forces on the offensive, Ford of Canada displayed their war vehicles to the public in actual battle conditions.


While much of the world was entrenched in battle, Ford of Canada’s entire productive capacity continued to solely focus on military vehicle production. By July 1944, fifty different types of military vehicles had been produced. This amounted to 650,000 war-time vehicles, of which more than half were created and assembled by Ford Canada.

Between 1944 and 1945, wartime advertisements placed particular emphasis on the vital role of the Ford V-8 engine in battle. Even in the early months of 1945 (when WWII was coming to a close), Ford Canada continued to produce military vehicles for war in the Pacific. After the war had ended, Ford of Canada continued to produce large numbers of trucks for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. Later in the year, preparations were made for limited production of passenger cars.

Wartime Advertisements Gallery

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