Prize winners and honorable mentions from Ivory Soap's third
annual soap sculpture competition
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."
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.
the enemies of soap, would be conditioned to enjoy using Ivory
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.
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
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
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)