To be honest, there are certainly many, many times the U.S. government has preyed on men's fears for various reasons. But I stumbled across an ad for U.S. savings bonds from 1948 that struck me as a particularly, colorfully egregious example.
Alas, it is on the inside back cover of a precious May 1948 issue of Startling Stories that would fall apart if I scanned it, and I cannot find the image online. But believe me, it's real. [UPDATE: While I am not image savvy enough to reproduce it here, you can see the ad I'm discussing by going to this pdf of the issue of Startling, and going to page 147. And man is the World Wide Web an amazing place.]
The image is a sort of proto-Don Draper-y office man with furrowed brow and a pencil held to his forehead.
"When does a man start slipping?"
The moment comes to every man.
The moment when he realizes he isn't the man he used to be….
That the days of his peak earning powers are over…
That some day not so very far away some younger man will step into his shoes.
When does this time come? It varies with many things.
But of one thing you can be sure: It will come to you as surely as green apples get ripe–and fall off the tree.
Is this something to worry about? Well….yes. But constructively.
And "constructively" means: "By buying U.S. savings bonds….automatically."
American man, you are going to become more and more of a loser. Don't deny it. But strive to protect yourself and your family against your inevitable, sad, humiliating decline. With U.S. savings bonds.
CORRECTION: The original posting of this shamefully misused "pray" and "prayed" for its homophone "prey."