Types of Propaganda and How to Use It for Your Business in 2021

upqode | May 11th, 2021

Over the years propaganda has taken different forms and its targets may be broad or narrow. Although many of the notable examples include huge political scandals and corporate giants. One thing is clear: there are different types of propaganda that can impact any business.

As such businesses have their set traditional and digital marketing goals to meet. These goals often involve the greater public and what better way to attract them than use persuasive means. This is where propaganda comes in.

It is also used in politics, especially during the campaigns and elections period, to inspire people to vote for a specific candidate.

It’s also worth noting that the use of propaganda to persuade people is a purposeful act. Even then, marketers can use propaganda for good. What makes the difference is your intent.

There are different types of propaganda. Some are positive, while others are driven by selfishness and greed. Read on to learn more about these types and how they influence your decisions. But first

What is Propaganda?

Propaganda is a systematic effort aimed at manipulating people’s actions, beliefs, and attitudes. It uses symbols, monuments, gestures, banners, music, designs, and other means to achieve its driven agenda.  

The origin of propaganda dates back beyond World War 1 and has since then evolved in the way it’s used in different capacities both online social media and websites, and traditional methods.

All these actions and techniques are done intentionally and with the high emphasis being laid on this manipulation. This is what distinguishes propaganda from a free exchange of ideas or casual conversations.

Propaganda is used in different sectors globally. For example, business, politics, religions, health, and others. Propagandists in each of these sectors have a specified goal to achieve. They then use facts, ideas, and arguments and display them in a way that will be most effective.

To some extent, these propagandas are often accompanied by lies or distortion of information to blind the reactors or targeted audience.

Today you’ll realize that marketing campaigns are loaded with propaganda, as well. 

So, what are the different types of propaganda you can use in business? Keep reading to learn more.

7 Different Types Of Propaganda Used In Business Today

There are 7 types of propaganda used today, these are:

#1. Bandwagon propaganda

Have you ever bought a particular outfit because your friend is buying one?  Even though you knew it might not fit you the same way?

Or bought tickets to a particular concert because all your friends are buying even though you knew you would not enjoy yourself? If so, then you may have experienced bandwagon propaganda.

types of propaganda

Advertisers use this kind of propaganda with a deep understanding of human nature. No one wants to be left out.  This way, if they convince you that all your friends are buying a specific product, you will want to join the bandwagon circus.


·         Marketing

Marketing targets a specific audience. If it is the general public, it is split into different consumer groups.

They may use the analogy of a couple of friends enjoying a simple day in an exquisite spa getting different services. This image is used to pull people towards the SPA to get the same experience.

This analogy could also be used to portray a particular class of elegance, the kind that you or any other person would want to belong to.

For a recent example, let’s talk of ex-US President Donald Trump. In his campaigns and interview, he often said that he had ‘tens of thousands of people at his side. However much this may be true is unclear but, this phrase made people who supported him want to be part of the ‘tens of thousands.

·         Pressuring People

The above-named analogy could also make you feel you need to take action; buy that product.

This is often used in businesses that have limited products to pressure people into making purchases. After all, you do not want to miss out on such offers.

·         Announcement

A famous example of this is ‘Hurry!! Buy one get 1 free while stock lasts’. This and other announcements are used in stores and malls to attract people into purchasing this product and get one free. Who doesn’t like a free giveaway?

There is no harm posed in such advertising or propaganda since it is neutral. The final decision remains on your side to decide whether the free or half-priced product is good for you or not.

#2. Testimonial type of propaganda

Have you seen this popular toothpaste advert for pepsodent? This advert shows a perfect solution for all tooth sensitivity problems and other benefits. This advert is often done by a dentist who often says other dentists also recommend the same toothpaste.

Such an advert uses a dentist because if someone else says a chef was to do it, people might not take them seriously. 


This type of propaganda uses key influencers’ testimonials to influence the greater public. They convince you that the product or service is good for you since they are using it.

This is one of the most popular propaganda used today.  It influences you to want to be affiliated with a particular celebrity through the products or services you use.


·         For advocacy

It may be used to bring to attention the effects of using certain drugs or taking specific actions.

During anti-alcoholism-based campaigns, they may use a former alcoholic to tell others of the dangers of drinking.

Such testimonies are highly effective and inspire the public or target audience to take action, not be victims of the same.

·         Marketing Strategies

In business, a marketer uses a key public figure to sell their idea or product to others.

These key figures will talk about how they used the product or service in question and the benefits it has brought to them. Often, this public figure might have never used the product or service they are testifying about.

#3. Name-Calling propaganda

It is also called trash talking. As the name suggests, it involves pouring not-so-good praises about a certain product or advocacy.  It is offensive rather than defensive propaganda.


Such propaganda occurs when a certain company or even politician uses offensive words to talk about their competitors and opposing party.  

This is often seen in the bitterness between different political party supporters. Other examples include;


·         Advertisements

Businesses with heightened competition and bitter rivalry might use name-calling more so if it was used on them too.

Name-calling in business, though used indirectly, it holds more water as compared to politics. It can be entertaining, funny, or even offensive.

·         For Personal Gain

Someone may also use trash-talking for their selfish gains aimed at lowering another person’s reputation.

In an organization, trash-talking may occur if there is a promotion in play. Someone eying the promotion may trash-talk someone else eyeing the same position to defame them as not fit for the post.

Regardless of how it is used, name-calling is harmful as it may tarnish someone’s character.

#4. Plain folks propaganda

Between testimonies given by a celebrity and those from ordinary people like to use, which one impacts you most? This is the question behind Plain folks’ propaganda.

It uses ordinary people to promote specific services or products. The aim is to tell the public that the said product is for us all.

wallmart advertising

This propaganda is effective because most people are aware that this celebrity most likely does not even use the product being advertised.

But for an ordinary person, the product could be part of their daily routine.


·         Politics

You may have noticed that when political elections are near, the atmosphere is very different. During this time, politicians are ‘humble beings’ who relate to everyone’s life. They often portray themselves as the ‘people person’, who relates to the ordinary person’s struggles and needs.

This form of propaganda is used to show or portray compassion and goodwill for the poor and commoners. During these periods, they show the public that even they live or can live simple and ordinary lives.

Some may go a step further to prove this by taking their meals in local diners or attending community-level events. To most people, this is quite humbling.

·         Entertainment

In the entertainment industry, popular TV shows may be cast showing celebrities such as media personalities or journalists living ordinary lives. This kind of show can keep most people glued to their screens.

In the said commercial, the celebrity visits a particular beauty shop or fast-food store. Others will want to go to the same store. Such shows may be used to attract people to the casted shops and stores.

This, unlike name-calling, is one of the positive types of propaganda techniques, whether it is being used for entertainment or business promotion purposes.

#5. Card stacking propaganda

Card stacking is the most popular type of propaganda in advertising.  In this technique, a marketing agency always shows the good and best features of their products but hides the bad ones.

 It works on a half-truth basis.  They tell you how valuable the product such as soap will be but leave out the part of how it may cause skin rashes. This technique may be regarded as unfair advertising wince they are not bringing all the facts to the table.

Mr Clean adverising

A marketer only uses the good method that promotes the given products and leaves the bad that they defame it. Card stacking involves using misleading facts to gain product popularity.

Other times, card-stacking may be combined with propaganda to serve the same or greater agenda.


·         Campaign Purposes

Propaganda is the main manifesto in politics. Politicians promise to ‘move mountains’ and use positive qualities to show how effective they will be once elected.

If the said politician was in office before and didn’t deliver on his previous promises, the campaigners will never mention this. They hide the negative traits.  This is done to showcase the candidate as ideal and more deserving to be elected.

·         Pitching Sales

Card stacking is highly effective in pitching sales. As mentioned, advertisers and marketers or even salespeople will only show the product’s good qualities. This is intended to increase the sales and purchases made for that product; by sugar-coating it.

Such advertising is driven by the belief that a negative trail lowers the popularity of the product and the brand itself. As such, they never mention any disadvantage related to the product.

This strategy may not be as effective if a competitor or someone uses name-calling or testimonial propaganda to attack the said product, especially if the argument’s basis is proven to be true.

#6. Glitterin Generalities Propaganda

If name-calling is all about showering negative praises, glittering generalities are the exact opposite. This type of propaganda is all about the good praises to advocate or market for a certain product, more like card stacking.

coffee sturbucks

Glittering generalities is a basic type of propaganda that works on product patriotism. As the name suggests, it is all glitters and gold.  It is used to define positivity for a certain product or fact or idea. Popular phrases that might be used to advertise a product would be ‘the number one acne solution.

It may also be used in other capacities such as politics to influence voters by stirring up their emotions.

Like other types of propaganda techniques, it is done in such a way that it sparks the targeted audience’s attention and curiosity. The words used may be simple, but their meanings always hold much power.

coca-cola advertising

Some have termed it as propaganda for opportunists as marketers may use it in times of crisis and desperation to advertise and sell their products as the only solution.


1. Advertisements

Suppose you have been in a lose weight fast and you’ve tried all means known including hitting the gym, but nothing works. Then you see an advert saying ‘lose weight in four weeks, ‘no gym needed. Such an advert would spark your curiosity and you’ll want to try this seemingly effortless solution. 

The need for a solution that works fast and with minimal effort will likely drive you to try it. This is what glittering propaganda does. It uses eye-catching words that are glittery.

Often, there is little information given around this ‘lose weight solution’; it leaves you with unanswered questions.

2. Labeled

Marketers use certain words to attract people. These words are often labeled in their products, such as ‘100% extra’. This lures people into purchasing the product.

They are little given information about the new features of the products and how they come to be.

3. Political Strategy

In politics, you will find words such as hope and new dawn being used in campaigns.  The truthfulness of this hope and new dawn always remains to be seen.

It is not worth noting that not all glittering generalities propaganda is negative. Even with the vagueness of the information given around a product or service, it aims to serve the greater good.  

#7. Transfer Propaganda

Lastly, on the list for the 7 types of propaganda is transfer. As the name suggests, this technique involves associating good or bad feelings you may have with a certain product or service being promoted.

types of propaganda

It works on worth symbolism and connections, connecting your fears with a service or product that can take away those fears. 

Let’s take a restaurant, for example,

It uses ads and other marketing strategies that still do not drive people to the restaurant. Then they mention they serve or deal with vegan foods.

If you are a vegan, this stirs your need to try out the restaurant; it connects your vegan need with its meals and the restaurant as a whole.

Other Examples

Health-related advertising

As a marketer, you may link your services or products with a particular celebrity, saying they also use them. This drives people to believe.

This is often popular with expensive supplements, which claim that world-class athletes use it.

As a result, your audience may think that you’re living a lifestyle that’s as healthy as the athlete if you say that you’re also using the supplement that you sell.

·         Advertising

Transfer Propaganda is widely used in ads. The target audience will believe the product’s credibility, especially if they like and follow the celebrity link to it.

Transfer propaganda can be confused with plain folk, but it could be a combination of the two.

Difference between Advertising and Propaganda

The different types of propaganda from Bandwagon to Transfer all have an agenda and goal. They aim to make people accept and follow propagandist ideas through deceptive and persuasive means. 

A similarity between advertising and propaganda would be the use of persuasion to influence people’s choices.


An advertisement involves the use of multimedia means to promote services, activities, or services using different avenues. Advertisement processes ensure persuading potential consumers.

Propaganda involves influencing people by shifting their perceptions and attitudes on how they view specific services, products, and beliefs.

End result

The advertising’s end result is changing peoples’ preference leading to a purchase.

Propaganda on the other hand is used to show superiority while making other products appear inferior. Additionally, it changes people’s attitudes as regards race, political, lifestyle choices, and religious views


Whereas advertising uses techniques like impact, dramatization, imaging, description, positioning, and frequency, propaganda uses techniques like inaccuracies, emotional manipulation, generalization, and exaggerations. 


Advertisements aim to draw public attention to specific services or products and change consumer preferences. On the other hand, propaganda aims to distort facts while basing them on prejudiced opinions therefore it’s misleading to a target audience. 

Common use

You can use advertisements to promote new products and services in the consumer market.

On the other hand, propaganda is used in the consumer markets as well as in influencing political stands, health choices, drugs, lifestyle, racism, and sexuality.

Although advertisements and propaganda seem similar, these methods of influence are different. Advertisements persuade consumers to buy a specific service or product. Additionally, they help convince consumers to change their brand loyalty.

Propaganda is applied in commodity marketing. However, it’s often used to persuade people into changing their perceptions and attitudes about something. This is achieved either by the use of biased, inaccurate, or even false information.

Should You Use Different Types Of Propaganda in Growing Your Business

As a marketer, knowing these advertising tactics will help you initiate transformative campaigns. Propaganda takes many forms, lies, half-truths, and facts. There is always an agenda and goal to be achieved by the end of its call.

That said, the propagandist may be driven by the ‘the ends not means’ approach. Some types of propaganda like name-calling may lead to negative repercussions to someone as it is used for selfish gains. However, in some cases, forms like transfer and testimonial propaganda may serve the greater good.

Types Of Propaganda – FAQs

What’s the difference between advertising and propaganda?

Advertising involves the running of ad campaigns intending to influence people’s buying decisions for specific products and services offered by businesses.

This is done convincingly so it compels viewers to take action and also makes them conform to your ads. Its core purpose is to draw in new customers thus boosting profits.

Where propaganda is the process of spreading information that may be rumors, facts, lies, arguments, or, half-truths to sway public opinions and perceptions. Its main purpose is to encourage a particular position.

What is advertising propaganda?

Propagandists have specific goals, and to reach these goals they’ll present their arguments, facts, and opinions using the most effective methods among the targeted viewers.

Propaganda in advertising is aimed to draw customers to a product while changing how they view other’s products. Advertisers lie and mislead so they can divert their customers’ attention. They aren’t keen on their customers’ interests.

Can propaganda be positive?

Propaganda has earned a negative connotation since they’re employed to acquire support for inappropriate practices plus it’s often used to conceal the truth. But, propaganda also has a positive effect.

Even then, realize that all propaganda isn’t bad. Propaganda has positive effects when it’s used to promote ideas that help create a positive change. Good examples of positive propaganda include public health campaigns or awareness-raising campaigns and commercials to end abuse.

Filed under: Marketing

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