"It could be as simple as an advertisement for beer you might see in a magazine, but with PLA soldiers drinking a Pabst (Blue Ribbon beer). And it could have a clever catchphrase like, 'There is no such thing as history.'"
In late 1968 Richard Nixon walked into an advertising agency in New York and requested a campaign that had the look of Socialist Realist propaganda. When asked what he was selling, the President-elect answered, “Our New Friends, China.”
Foreign policy was at the forefront of the new administration’s agenda. The United States stood face to face with China on the ground in Southeast Asia. Nixon planned to wrap up the Vietnam conflict quickly, and lure China into a cozy relationship based on trade. Nixon felt that American capitalism combined with Chinese markets would lift both nations, and ensure America’s prosperity for the next century.
Based on an interview with Nixon and his team, the agency art department designed collateral materials and shared them with Mr. Nixon during several meetings held in December of that year. But The PLA Campaign, as it came to be known, never made it past the initial stage, and vanished from the collective memory until the discovery of a photograph of Nixon visiting the agency re-opened the window on this corner of history.
The photograph, unearthed in an attic, also revealed a typescript, entitled "Warning America," attached to the back of the frame. The discovery of these items lead to subsequent investigation of Nixon's visit, and brought to light additional lost ephemera along with insight into the foreign and domestic policy agendas of one of America's most import historical figures.