Edward L. Bernays was born in Europe but moved with his parents to New York City at the age of one. He grew up with four sisters in a moderately prosperous household. His mother, Anne Freud, the sister of Sigmund Freud, was demure and deferred to her husband in all matters. His overbearing father insisted he follow President Teddy Roosevelt's advice to get back to the land and be a farmer. He got his degree in agriculture from Cornell University and took up editing and promoting two medical journals. He opened his own agency in 1919. His progressive views on women's equality resulted in his wife and business partner Doris Fleischman being issued the country's first marriage license and passport designating her maiden name to identify her rather than her husband's last name.
The self-proclaimed creator of modern public relations has much proof to back his claims to fame. Displaying an uncanny knack for promotion and publicity, he single handedly broke the long held taboo against women smoking in public with his “torches of freedom march” on Easter Sunday in 1928. His ability to alter public opinion to promote his clients product is demonstrated best in his 1934 advocacy of the color green on a nationwide level to fashion designers, magazines, and retailers in order to prevent the color of Lucky Strikes packaging from clashing with smoking women's clothing. His work for prominent clients such as Proctor and Gamble, tenor Enrico Caruso, American Tobacco, presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, and the NAACP made him one of the nations leading pitchmen. Bernays authored numerous books, papers, and articles on public relations and much of his pioneering work is still studied today.
This report prepared by David Fletcher