Edward L. Bernays
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Carl R. Byoir
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Arthur W. Page
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Prize winners and honorable mentions from Ivory Soap's third annual soap sculpture competition

There is no better public relations casebook than the work that Bernays provided for Procter and Gamble (P&G) for more than thirty years. Ranging from product publicity to national programs, Bernays used community relations, crisis communications, public affairs, and media campaigns to advance P&G's position. In both thought and action, Bernays emphasized the "coincidence of public and private interest, of the supremacy of propaganda of the deed over the propaganda of the work, of the desirability of a large corporation assuming constructive leadership in the community."

P&G, already considered innovative, hired Bernays in 1923 to provide support for advertising Ivory soap and Crisco. He began with a survey that showed a preference for "white unperfumed soap." Ivory was the only white unperfumed soap on the market and when the media reported the results, Bernays objective was met.

Children, the enemies of soap, would be conditioned to enjoy using Ivory

He used events to further obtain media coverage for Ivory: a soap yacht race in Central Park, a resolution by the Ziegfeld Follies Girls to use "nothing but warm water and pure white, unscented, floating soap on their faces," and distribution of household hints recommending pure white soap from the National Household Service. He even advocated that citizens should nurture their civic pride by washing their town statues and municipal buildings with Ivory.

Bernays liked contests. For a quarter of a century, the National Soap Sculpture Competition in White Soap inspired millions of school children to find "creative and artistic expression... Children, the enemies of soap, would be conditioned to enjoy using Ivory." Winning sculptures were sent to national exhibitions in New York and museums around the country earning international media coverage. P&G made it an annual event, "symbolizing white floating Ivory soap."

When the Norge made the first blimp trip across the North Pole in 1926, Bernays made sure that everyone knew it used P&G glycerin. "The cooling water for the engines was mixed with glycerin at Kings Bay to prevent it from freezing," reported The New York Times, The St. Louis Dispatch and broadcast journalists across the country.

Public Relations for P&G dramatically changed when, in 1943, Bernays accompanied R.R. Deupree, president of P&G, to Washington for a meeting on war production. They discussed public relations and Deupree was impressed. "For the first time in my life I have been exposed to the power of public opinion," said Deupree. "I realize how important it is for a corporation to have public opinion's support." (top)