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Online Collections

Iraqi Mosted Wanted Playing Cards

card deck


During the initial phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom in the spring of 2003, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) created a deck of playing cards with the names and photos of 55 Iraqi leaders and senior military officers for distribution to American military personnel. The U.S. Defense Department put the images from the deck of cards on its website on April 10, and several card-producing companies rushed to put reproductions of the cards in the marketplace. The sale of the decks to American civilians surpassed everyone's expectations. Millions of decks sold--nearly exclusively through Internet marketing organized by JDR Media. JDR consigned a number of Internet marketing companies (about 1,500 different concerns) to send Iraqi card ads to their e-mail mailing lists advertising the availability of the cards at About 2.5 million decks sold between April 10 and June 4, 2003--making the Iraqi cards one of the fastest-selling fads ever. The sales figures demonstrate the influence of the Internet in American life at that time. As an observer noted: "This fad was related to a war that was going to be so short that it would be difficult for a Target or a Kmart to buy the product and get it into 2,000 stores before the war was over." As another commenter remarked: "Without e-mail, this would never have happened."

ManufacturerUnited States Playing Card Co.
Materialpaper | cardboard
OriginCincinnati, OH
Object ID103.1894

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