How to sell a tank

Several beautiful old books by Chrysler chronicle a fascinating moment in WWII public relations history

Published September 6, 2011 1:01AM (EDT)

At the end of World War II the Chrysler Corp. tooted its own horn by dispatching small hardbound books to its shareholders chronicling what was involved in its contributions to the war effort.


These satisfying little gems used tinted photographs, illustrations, and graphic diagrams to tell the story of how Chrysler swung its huge plants from automobile-related production into the manufacturing of tanks, munitions, radar, and gyroscopes. The four titles are wonderful chronicles of WWII technological history, but they also put into perspective how monumental the conversion and retooling task was. So, if you happen to be looking for a good example of mid-20th century corporate P.R., grab these. In the meantime, the (Chrysler) Imperial Club has been kind enough to have uploaded two of these onto its website. You can access them here: "Tanks Are Mighty Fine Things" and "A War Job Thought Impossible."  







Chrysler Corporation

blank cartridges





I also think it’s adverts and self promotional pieces like this that helped form the foundation for the satire and parody soon to be pioneered by humor sources like Mad Magazine. The staging of the illustrations and the tinted photos feel like they could be out of a Bruce McCall "faux-nostalgia" story for National Lampoon, and "Tanks Are Mighty Fine Things !" – seriously ? Sounds a bit like an expose’ on "The Daily Show" or "Colbert Report". . . Left:An illustration from "Tanks Are Mighty Fine Things". Right: Another McCall illustration titled "Tank Polo".

Copyright F+W Media Inc. 2011.

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By J.J. Sedelmaier

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