Week 3. Origins of Propaganda

February 7, 2018

Week 3 Theme: Origins of Propaganda

What caused propaganda to develop at the beginning of the 20th century? We’ll learn how people first learned how to use propaganda to shape public opinion for political purposes by studying the work of Edward Bernays, the so-called “father of public relations.” 


  1. What are you learning? Reviewing your completed work
  2. For discussion: What historical, social, political and economic factors helped advance propaganda in the 20th century?
  3. View and discuss. “How One Man Manipulated All of America”
    • Part 1. Opening to 4:14
    • Part 2: 4:00 to 9:00
    • Part 3. 8:45 – to end
  4. Review class participation, reading and homework activities. LEAP 1 DUE: Feb 14.

PLEASE COMPLETE Week 4 (Propaganda and Social Media) class assignments listed on the Pathwright website before Wednesday February 14 at 4 p.m.


If you missed the “live” synchronous class on Feb 7 at 4 pm, you must watch it here:

After viewing, in the “Leave a Reply” space below, please respond to this week’s discussion question, “What social, political and economic factors helped advance propaganda in the 20th century?” As we did in the videotaped class, view the video animation, “How One Man Manipulated All of America” and summarize and comment on key ideas, connecting past to present and examining the content and format of the video.


  1. A social aspect that helped advance propaganda in the 20th century was that about 50% of Americans lived in cites. More people were in one place at once, which allowed them more opportunities to see propaganda messages and to spread propaganda quickly. An economic aspect that helped advance propaganda in the 20th century was the growing middle class that was discussed in the video, “How One Man Manipulated All of America.” The fact that people had more money to spend than generations of the past called for more propaganda to get people to buy more things. A political aspect that helped advance propaganda in the 20th century was that during time of war, powerful political propaganda messages were used to evoke strong emotions among the people.

    “How One Man Manipulated All of America” explained that Bernays is considered, “the man who manipulated America. He manipulated the masses by using propaganda, and thought it was only wrong to do this if he was spreading lies. He manipulated people into buying things by securing a mental spot in their minds. The example of Bernays tricking women into buying and smoking cigarettes was very disturbing to me. He wanted to get rid of the negative image that surrounded women who smoked, and teamed up with the American Tobacco Company to do so. This company hired Bernays to have him help get women to smoke. He then promoted the message that thin is fashionable, and that cigarettes help you get thin. He campaigned to spread this idea, and hired women to smoke cigarettes in a parade to show off that image. Although Bernays thought he wasn’t doing wrong, this whole story is messed up and made me dislike Bernays.

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  2. In the 20th century, there were a number of factors that helped advance propaganda. One big factor was that 50 percent of the population were living in the city. Another big factor was that during this time period, the middle class citizens were seeing more money, therefore there was more money to blow. Factoring together they amount of people in the city and a majority of them seeing more money then before, propaganda seen in adverisments and newspapers was utulized to persuade those to spend their money on things they “need.”

    I found the video, “how One Man Manipulated All of America” to be very interesting, and it allowed to me get a better understanding as to exactly who Edward Bernays was and how he used his intelligence to persuade and make a profit. When Bernays realized that he could use propaganda in places other than military recruitment, he used his skill in all different forms of advertisement. Bernays used influencer marketing to spread his ideas with big companies to help not only make him money but them as well. Influencer marketing is when you attract the attention of one in power and practically sell them on your ideas. From there, the man of power spreads the word of your ideas through the company to enforce the idea. I really liked the example of women and cigerettes. The video stated how in the 1920’s, it was taboo for women to smoke in public, if smoke at all. Bernays used his skills to change advertisements to attract women to their product. He used the slogan, “Reach for a lucky instead of a sweet.” The purpose of this slogan was to say that smoking cigarettes could keep you skinny if you replaced it with your sweet.” Another form of Propaganda that Bernays created was the women smoking publicly in the parade. This was to to broadcast to women that they can smoke in public and there should not be a problem.

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  3. A social aspect that helped advance propaganda in the 20th century was the fact that after the industrial revolution almost 50 percent of the population was now living in cities. With a high population in a smaller area, there was more opportunity for propaganda to be spread through posters, billboards, and other various signage. As for political propaganda, there was the news and posters promoting war and war conditions to make americans believe that war was not as bad as it sounds. Economic aspects included the growing wealth in the lower middle class. Because of this, companies had more reason to advertise because a wider range of the population could afford to make luxury purchases.

    After watching “How One Man Manipulated All of America”, I learned a lot more about how Bernays was a huge influence on America. He used his brilliant mind to help others understand the importance or propaganda, if it was be used to help the common good. While working to teach about propaganda, he used it in turn to manipulate many Americans. Bernays was a big believer in symbolism which I thought was a very important discussion in the video. They state that an idea or a product can become a movement using indirect methods of selling. For example if a products advertisement can spark the consumers thoughts, emotions and desires, then it will be much more sellable than selling the actual product. I think that this method of selling is still a huge impact on how things are sold still today.

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  4. Propaganda definitely advanced after the World War in 1929 which shaped and altered the future decades. The first and second industrial revolution took place and public education was largely established which resulted in 50 percent of Americans living in cities by the 20th century. As more people migrated into the cities, the public became vulnerable and exposed to propaganda more than before. During this time, companies were pressured into producing more products because of industrialization. Advertisements became crucial for companies because the middle class had more disposable income.

    “How One Man Manipulated America” was based on Edward Bernays and how he was able to spread his ideas and propaganda effectively. He believed that advertisements can become more effective if companies learn group psychology. This means that companies need to learn what the public wants as in their desires. For example, a car needs to be marketed as a social statues rather than the features the cars has. Most of society wouldn’t car about the features of the car rather than the brand and how it looks. He mentioned that his propaganda became successful because he looked at symbolism as a movement, used influencer marketing, altered group norms, and he is consistent and been everywhere. Companies need to realize the bigger picture. Another example displayed in the video was that an apple company is not only in competition with other apple companies but also competing with other food vendors. They have to make sure that the product they are selling is something that the public needs to buy and make it seem that they can’t live without it using propaganda and advertising.

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