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Common Man

The “common man” or “plain folks technique is used to show a relationship between the position of the audience (the common people) with that of a leader, a party, or any other organization, and/or their beliefs. The goal is to gain the trust of the audience by focusing on the similarities and common goals between the two.

Examples of Propaganda: In propaganda, this usually translates into a leader being among the people (i.e. planting a tree, placing a brick) or doing something very ordinary (i.e. working hard). In this photo, Mussolini is shown surrounded by peasants in Littoria and partaking in the annual wheat harvest.

 Propaganda - Common Man - Mussolini Wheat Harvest


In these posters from the Soviet Union in the late 1930s, Stalin is shown surrounded by regular schoolchildren, who thank him for the “happy, joyful childhood.” Although he is the leader of one of the most potent nations in the world, he devotes some of his time to be with “the people.”

Propaganda - Common People - Happy, Joyful Childhood

Another method is to use simple arguments using terms with which the audience is familiar to help explain more complicated concepts.

Examples of Propaganda: This man wants to do the right thing–like the viewer–but he does not know exactly how.

Propaganda - Common People - Sure, I want to fight communism...

In this picture, a mourning mother wears the gold medal in memory of her son who has died fighting for the Italian Social Republic. “Don’t betray my son,” she says. She is representative of all the mothers whose sons fought and died in the war (in this case, for the RSI) and hers is an exhortation to not give up on the cause.

 Propaganda - Common People - Gino Boccasile Non tradite mio figlio