Edward Bernays – Public Relation

Edward Bernays – Public Relation

Case Study: Edward Bernays

Public Relations Pioneer

Who was Edward Bernays?

Born in Vienna in 1891, distant nephew of Sigmund Freud

His approach to public relations was to use symbols and the mass media to engineer consent

He claimed the public was essentially reactive

But the rise of the middle class meant that there was no longer the ruling class and the uneducated masses who followed dumbly . . .

What did he believe?

This emerging new social strata needed to be controlled and led.

He believed in a completely hierarchical view of society: the intelligent few have been charged with the responsibility of contemplating and influencing the tide of history and of dealing with the masses.

How did he deal with the masses?

Used sociology, psychology and economics and applied them to the messages and methods

He saw the PR expert as an applied social scientist educated to use an understanding of these three fields to influence and direct public attitudes (in a democratic society!)

How did he deal with the masses?

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in a democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”

Edward Bernays

What is PR?

“Of course, you know, we don’t deal in images, we deal in reality.”

For Bernays, PR was about creating and projecting credible renditions of reality itself.

He called news any overt act which stands out of the routine.

A PR expert carries out an overt act to interrupt the routine to bring out a response.

PR is the science of creating circumstances which do not appear to be staged.

Edward Bernays

“The public relations counsel sometimes uses current stereotypes, sometimes combats them and sometimes created new ones. In using them, he very often brings to the public a stereotype they already know, to which he adds new ideas, this fortifies his own and gives a greater carrying power.”

Edward Bernays

He fully believed that to manipulate the public, one must know its public as well as know who influences that public

PR experts, as molders of public opinion, must be ongoing monitors of social attitudes.

Edward Bernays

Part of this influencing involved using the implied authority, i.e. the social power of certain groups or leaders

E.g. “Damaged Goods” – he promoted a play about syphillis by securing members of high society and doctors as advocates

To encourage people to eat more bacon, he launched a campaign in which a doctor promoted the benefits of a hearty breakfast

Lucky Strikes

In 1929, Bernays was hired by the tobacco company that made Lucky Strikes. Just 12% of sales were attributed to women and they wanted to increase the number of women smokers. So they focused on slimness, which was coming into fashion, to encourage smoking. “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet” was the tag line that promoted smoking as a calorie free way to satisfy hunger.

Lucky Strikes

Women were only permitted to smoke in the privacy of their own homes. Public opinion and certain legislation at the time did not permit women to smoke in public, and in 1922 a woman from New York City was arrested for lighting a cigarette on the street.

George Washington Hill, president of the American Tobacco Company and an eccentric businessman, recognized that an important part of his market was not being tapped into. Hill believed that cigarette sales would soar if he could entice more women to smoke in public.

Lucky Strikes

Bernays got photographers and artists to write letters praising the beauty of slimness.

He got hotels to add cigarettes to the dessert menu.

He got a doctor to say that smoking a cigarette disinfects the mouth and soothes the nerves.

He urged container makers to make canisters for cigarettes, like for sugar and flour.

He got the Siegfried Girls to announce they were turning to smoking to give up sweets.

He got a psychoanalysts to say cigarettes were Torches of Freedom and then linked smoking to the women’s movement. He got ten debutantes to march in the NYC Easter Parade and light up.

Lucky Strikes

Mrs. Taylor-Scott Hardin parades down New York’s Fifth Avenue with her husband while smoking “torches of freedom,” a gesture of protest for absolute equality with men.

Lucky Strikes

The result: at the end of a year, sales were up $32 million.

Lucky Strikes

But in all of his dealings, never did he reveal that he worked for a tobacco company. He would get opinion leaders and experts to speak on the issue.

One thing he used frequently was front groups. He would establish an organization to promote a certain ideal, then have the organization send letters and write releases.

Think Green

In 1934, market research showed that women disliked the green package of the Lucky Strikes box, so instead of changing the color, which would undo the millions spent on advertising the packaging, Bernays decided to change how we thought about green.

Think Green

He came up with the concept of a Green Ball, where all the dresses would be green. He identified a hostess, a woman who chaired a charity, and promised her proceeds would go to her charity. Then he began shaping the fashion and accessory markets, promoting green.

Think Green

He planned a Green Fashion Fall Luncheon, where all the food was green and an art historian have a talk on the color green in the works of great artists. He created the Color Fashion Bureau, a front group that advised home furnishing companies, interior decorators, dept. stores on how to tap into the new fashion trend and incorporate the new color in clothing into home furnishings.

Think Green

No one ever suspected that a tobacco company was trying to sell more cigarettes.

Think Green

He repeatedly proved he could reshape reality.

Oblique Approach

Examples of other campaigns include:

Getting a doctor to talk about the health benefits of a hearty breakfast in order to sell more bacon For a book publisher, he encouraged architects to design built in bookcases in homes and offices to encourage the sale of books. A soap carving contest for children encouraged them to use the discarded bits for bathing.

Case Study Analysis

What was the problem?

List any outside concepts/theories that can be applied.

Qualitative data

Quantitative data

What is your analysis?

What alternative measures, actions, approaches could have been used?

How would you have approached this problem?

World War II

Another example of a sweeping campaign to change how the public thinks occurred during WWII.

World War II

1940-1945 Employment shortages caused by the war forced the government to turn to an unlikely labor source, a group that during the Great Depression had been discouraged from taking jobs away from men – married women. Pulling out all the stops, the Office of War Information utilized every possible media outlet to change society’s perception of working women.

World War II

To control the content and imagery of war messages, the government created the U.S. Office of War Information (OWI) in June 1942.

World War II

Three key messages were developed:

Women’s presence in the workforce was temporary

Working was patriotic

Women still retained their femininity

World War II

These messages were found in

print and radio advertisements

news reels at the movies

movies themselves

magazine articles

short stories

posters

recruitment campaigns

registration drives

World War II

Publishers were asked to

devote a portion of ads to the theme of women war-workers

to develop articles and short fiction around similar themes.

A Magazine War Guide provided story ideas, plot samples and background information and overtly asked fiction writers to glamorize war jobs and break down prejudice against working women.

Feminine

Feminine

Feminine

Patriotic

Patriotic

Patriotic

Patriotic

Temporary

Eureka Advertisement: Beautiful young woman holds a baby with an expectant look on her face.

Ad salutes young women alone on this “great adventure” who are doing all they can on the home front. States that 70% of all Eureka employees, now working on war products, are women.

When war is over women can look forward to lighter more powerful vacuum cleaners to help them enjoy the peace time leisure they have so richly earned.

Women wait for victory to return to most important job of being home.

Temporary

Fiction was used to create role models for women:

Promoted confidence in female ability

Legitimized female authority, temporarily

E.g. The Saturday Evening Post

“Dangerous Ways” – woman manages a shipyard and deals with saboteurs when owner has an accident

“Heart on Her Sleeves” – daughter of plywood company owner takes over when dad is ill.

“Taxi! Taxi!” – Sister of a taxi fleet owner takes over when brother is drafted, hires brawny female drivers, defeats international spy ring while making business more efficient.

Results

1940 – just 27 percent of women were working

1945 – 37 percent were working

Results

1940 women made up 25 percent of all workers

1945 – 35 percent

Results

1940 – U.S. workforce is 56 million 1945 – 65 million Of the nine million new workers, 7 million were women.

Post World War II Campaign

By second half of 1944, with victory imminent, advertisers began looking to the OWI for direction on how to handle the transition to post-war messages.

Time for women to return to their proper place and a corresponding sweeping campaign was launched.

Focused on supporting disabled veterans

Jobs waiting for returning soldiers

Encouraged women to return to traditional fields

Reversal of Fortunes

During the war, there was a 71% approval rating for working women.

By 1945, 60 % of American no longer favored working women

New Messages

Returning soldiers needed jobs as part of their rehabilitation

Woman’s place is in the home

Working women contributes to rising juvenile delinquency rates

Manipulated or Not?

A 1951 Census Bureau poll of 4.2 million women asked war workers why they discontinued working after the war.

Half cited family responsibilities

5% said unsuitable jobs

5% said husband objected

Reality Check

Working AND taking care of the family was essentially two jobs – women were eager to focus on one

Living alone during war made many want to focus on building a close family unit post-war

Reality Check

Some women NEEDED to work, before, during and after the war.

They enjoyed the high wages paid during the war.

Financially stung as these jobs disappeared and they were forced back into traditional jobs with lower pay.

Case Study Analysis

What was the problem?

List any outside concepts/theories that can be applied.

Qualitative data

Quantitative data

What is your analysis?

What alternative measures, actions, approaches could have been used?

How would you have approached this problem?

Homework

Written Assignment: Select one Bernays campaign not discussed in class and provide an analysis using the HBS approach outlined in the previous slide.

Reading: The Father of Spin, by Larry Tye

https://www.edology.com/blog/marketing/pr-campaigns-edward-bernays/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_relations_campaigns_of_Edward_Bernays

http://theconversation.com/the-manipulation-of-the-american-mind-edward-bernays-and-the-birth-of-public-relations-44393

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