During World War II, U.S. businesses devised marketing strategies that encouraged consumers to believe their country’s wartime experience would launch a better America. Advertisements and promotional articles celebrated the immense industrial output that corporations achieved during the war. These commercial messages positioned wartime technologies and corporate expertise as the means to streamline America and invent a socially hygienic future free from poverty, slums, drudgery, filth, and—for some businessmen—the New Deal administration.
From Submarines to Suburbs surveys the development, strategy, and effect of these campaigns over a span of twenty pivotal years. Cynthia Lee Henthorn takes a close look at how pre-fabricated suburban houses, high-tech kitchens, and miracle products developed from war-related industries were promoted as the hygienic solutions for establishing this better America, one led by the captains of free enterprise.
As Henthorn demonstrates, wartime advertising and marketing strategies tying consumer prosperity to war were easily adapted in the Cold War era, when a symbiotic relationship between military standing and standards of living intensified in a culture dependent on defense spending. Were the efforts to engineer a better America successful? Using documentary evidence in the form of numerous advertisements, From Submarines to Suburbs stands as a significant contribution to understanding how today’s “better” America evolved.