How influential? After WW 2 propaganda was changed to public Relations.
His book lives on. and all of us have been swayed, and still will be swayed.
In the 1920s, working for the American Tobacco Company, he sent a group of young models to march in the New York City parade. He then told the press that a group of women's rights marchers would light "Torches of Freedom". On his signal, the models lit Lucky Strike cigarettes in front of the eager photographers. The New York Times (1 April 1929) printed: "Group of Girls Puff at Cigarettes as a Gesture of 'Freedom'".
In the 1930s, he attempted to convince women that Lucky Strike cigarettes' forest green pack was the most fashionable color. Letters were written to interior and fashion designers, department stores, and prominent women of society pushing green as the new hot color for the season. Balls, gallery exhibitions, and window displays all featured green after Bernays got through with them. The result was that green did indeed become a very hot color for the 1934 season and Lucky Strike kept their pack color and female clientele intact.
After his semi-retirement in the 1960s, he worked with the pro-health anti-smoking lawyer John Banzhaf's group, ASH and supported other anti-smoking campaigns.
Bernays applied Freud's observations to convince the public, among other things, that bacon and eggs was the true all-American breakfast.
He called for a focus group to learn why housewives didn't want to buy instant cake mixes. He secured cake mix sales by adding a (symbolic) egg to the list of necessary ingredients.
Bernays once engineered a "pancake breakfast" with vaudevillians for Calvin Coolidge in what is widely considered one of the first overt publicity stunts for a US president.
Bernays's most extreme political propaganda activities were said to be conducted on behalf of the multinational corporation United Fruit Company (renamed Chiquita Brands International in 1984) and the U.S. government to facilitate the successful overthrow (see Operation PBSUCCESS) of the democratically elected president of Guatemala, Colonel Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. Bernays's propaganda (documented in the BBC documentary, The Century of the Self), branding Arbenz as communist, was published in major U.S. media. According to a book review by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton of Larry Tye's biography of Bernays, The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays & The Birth of PR, "the term 'banana republic' actually originated in reference to United Fruit's domination of corrupt governments in Guatemala and other Central American countries."
When Venida, a hairnet manufacturer, hired Bernays' services, he started a campaign to convince women to grow their hair longer so they would buy more hairnets. Although the campaign failed in to influence many women, it convinced government officials to require hairnets for certain jobs.
Bernays worked with Procter & Gamble for Ivory-brand bar soap. The campaign successfully convinced people that Ivory soap was medically superior to other soaps. He also promoted soap through sculpting contests and floating contests because the soap floated better than its competitors'.
Bernays helped the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) and other special interest groups to convince the American public that water fluoridation was safe and beneficial to human health. This was achieved by using the American Dental Association in a highly successful media campaign.
In the 1930s, his Dixie Cup campaign was designed to convince consumers that only disposable cups were sanitary.
1920 Successfully hosted the first NAACP convention in Atlanta, Georgia. His campaign was considered successful because there was no violence at the convention. His campaign focused on the important contributions of African-Americans to Whites living in the South. He later received an award from the NAACP for his contribution.
In October 1929, Bernays was involved in promoting Light's Golden Jubilee. The event, which spanned across several major cities in the U.S., was designed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Thomas Edison's invention of the light-bulb (though the light-bulb had been previously invented by Joseph Swan). The publicity elements of the Jubilee–including the special issuance of a U.S. postage stamp and Edison's "re-creating" the invention of the light bulb for a nationwide radio audience – provided evidence of Bernays's love for big ideas and "ballyhoo". A follow-up event for the 75th anniversary, produced for television by David O. Selznick, was titled Light's Diamond Jubilee and broadcast on all four American TV networks on October 24, 1954.
Bernays was the publicity director of the 1939 New York World's Fair.
In 1913, Bernays secured one of his first consulting contracts. American actor Richard Bennett hired him to defend a play that promoted sex education against police interference. Bernays set up a front organization called the called the Medical Review of Reviews Sociological Fund. Although the organization purported to fight sexually transmitted disease, its sole purpose was to endorse Bennett's play.
In 1915, to prepare for the Ballets Russes' US tour, Sergei Diaghilev hired Bernays to convince American magazines to publish articles telling readers that ballet is fun to watch.
- Advertising campaign
In Bernays's mind, the belief that propaganda and purposely created news were legitimate tools of his business, along with his ability to offer philosophical justifications for these beliefs that ultimately embraced the whole democratic way of life, set his work in public relations apart from what ad men did. The Bernays essays "A Public Relations Counsel States His Views" (1927) and "This Business of Propaganda" (1928) show that Bernays regarded advertising men as special pleaders, merely paid to persuade people to accept an idea or commodity. The public relations counsel, on the other hand, he saw as an Emersonian-like creator of events that dramatized new concepts and perceptions, and even influenced the actions of leaders and groups in society. (However, it is doubtful that transcendentalist Emerson, enamored as he was with the spiritual traditions of India and their denunciation of materialism—and promotion of a simplified "inward" existence instead—would have found Bernays and his efforts on behalf of corporations appealing.)
Propaganda, an influential book written by Edward L. Bernays in 1928, incorporated the literature from social science and psychological manipulation into an examination of the techniques of public communication. Bernays wrote the book in response to the success of some of his earlier works such as Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923) and A Public Relations Counsel (1927). Propaganda explored the psychology behind manipulating masses and the ability to use symbolic action and propaganda to influence politics, effect social change, and lobby for gender and racial equality. Walter Lippman was Bernays’ unacknowledged American mentor and his work The Phantom Public greatly influenced the ideas expressed in Propaganda a year later. The work propelled Bernays into media historians’ view of him as the “father of public relations.”
Edward L. Bernays