Torches of freedom were a general phrase used in encouraging women smoking during their liberation movements in United States. Women described Cigarette as a symbol of equality and emancipation with men. Edward Bernays  used the term in encouraging women to take part in public smoking activities despite the taboos socially associated to this act not only in United States but in many part of the world.Women hired Bernays to match when smoking their torches of freedom in 1929 during the Easter Sunday parades. This was significant moment used by this group of women to fight social barriers associated to women smokers. 

The program was proactive and not reactive. This is because of great need to liberate the needs of women in United States during this time. For instance, prior to the Torches of Freedom campaign, women had just won their rights to vote , all windows just been  the rights to  succeed their husbands as governors in  some states such as Wyoming and Texas, more were being allowed to attend colleges as well as work forces. Based on this major strides made by women in these particular areas, there was a need to attain social equality with male counterparts, thus leading to this proactive campaign.

The main targeted audiences for communication in this campaign were the women, the main reason for this being the need of equality with their male counterparts. For instance, the only alliance was f for women to smoke privately at their homes as certain legislation and opinions at the particular time did not allow women to smoke in public. In 1922, a woman had been detained because of lighting cigarette in New York City (Brandt, 2009).

The research strength of this case is the fact that, Bernays theories on public relations became strong supporting examples to torches of freedom. He based his arguments on easy manipulation of people’s instincts and irrational emotions as compared to rational thoughts and reason. The weakness of this research is that torches of freedom greatly developed the high smoking custom witnessed in the recent times  among women as ALA (American Lung Association) reports that 2.2 million Women  takes part in smoking (Haglund, 2000). Despite the increased number of women smokers, Bernays campaign did not offer sustentative ways on how women can stop smoking.


Bernays torches of freedom campaign had the objective of liberating women as well as attempts for equality in sexual equalities. In addition to equality, the philosophy and ideas of Bernays campaign resided in public relations, advertisement and marketing ventures, especially for cigarette manufacturing companies. In taking, its legacy walks in many women across US in form of millions of women smokers across the globe .

The impact of Bernays torches of freedom were behavioural .Bernays waxed philosophical campaigns on Torches of freedom were aged customs, thus needed to be broken down by dramatic appeal and disseminated by network of media. Just like other behaviourists like Eddie, Bernays felt that humans were infinitely malleable, especially when subjected to orchestrated opinions (O'Keefe, 2010).

Like any other notable campaign, the need of a period in executing the mission was vital. For instance, by 1920s, neither the behaviourism nor advisements ever thought that man would be fully malleable in hands of omnipotent conditioners. Instead of this, there was a general understanding of man in closer sense of traditional rational psychologies, with heavy dose of the Augustinian Pessimism. Therefore, a timeframe was essential for advertisers to transform customers to transform the raw emotions to habit of consumption. 

The overall assessment of the objectives is that, Bernays campaign on torches of freedom eliminated social taboos of public women smokers. Further, the campaign helped to increase the emancipation of women as more feminist traits have been masked, thus making women to carry out task and activities earlier associated to men only.

O'Keefe (2010) defines the term strategy as scope and direction taken over in the long term that achieves advantages for the targeted task by configuring resources within challenging environments to fulfil the needs of stakeholders. In conducting this campaign, Bernays had acknowledged that, women would become the new gold mine for the American Tobacco company, thus used the trend of crystallizing public opinions, thereby accentuating trends as well as capitalized on women for his clients. The aspect of public relation, which dates back to the 17th century, was another strategy used by this campaign to achieve the expected social change for women smokers. I strongly feel that these strategies helped to change public opinion on the social taboos, which were associated to women smokers. Further, the cigarette-manufacturing firms such as American Tobacco Company among others in US, were able to win large number of women smokers, thus increased their profits.


To attain the expected impact, Bernays used messages portraying smoking to women as sign of power and freedom, and persuaded women that smoking would smash the restrictive taboo (Bernays, 2005). Therefore, he dubbed cigarettes as torches of freedom and got group of debutantes in marching in Ester Sunday of 1929 where they openly lit up in New York. Bernay arranged for photographer on hand as well as pictures of attractive women taking part in smoking to appear in a newspaper. As a result of the strong messages during the campaign, sales of cigarettes rose by  5%  and increased to about 12% in 1929 (Haglund, 2000).

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One of the special events in torches of freedom campaign was matching through the streets of New York during the Easter period of 1929, where women lit up cigarettes openly.

These events are truly worthwhile. During this duration, there was a great need of revolutionizing the taboos associated to smoking for women in US and other parts of the world. Further, the events were a part of the larger reforms, which were taking place in changing the position of women in society. All of these changes entailed systematic reengineering of morals of women as ways of moving them out of home into workforce (Bernays, 2005). 

The main type of media used in attaining this was printed press that was widespread during this time. For instance, photos of well-dressed women appeared in the newspaper that changing the thoughts of many Americans on women smokers. Documentaries were used in spreading the aspect of public relations as opposed to propaganda (O'Keefe, 2010).

During the entire campaign period of increasing the number of women smokers in US, there was a great need of sensitizing women on dangers associated to smoking. Scientists have indicated that smoking is more harmful to women as they are more prone to cancers and affects the unborn babies (Haglund, 2000). As a result, the campaign should have sensitized women on dangers and negative impacts of smoking to their health.


It is evident that there was evaluation of case objective. O'Keefe (2010) argues that evaluations are carried out using qualitative or quantitative methods or both of these methods in some given instances. In measuring the success of Bernays campaign, there was employment of quantitative methods to evaluate the number of women taking part in smoking activity. For instance, when the campaign started present data from most of the cigarette selling firms indicated that the number of women smokers raised by 5% and more than 10% in 1929 (Brandt, 2009).

The quantitative method was effective as it enabled monitoring the percentage change on number of cigarettes sold in US. This indicated the percentage of women taking part in smoking process as Bernay continued to use the aspect of public relation in changing the perceptions of American towards women smokers (Haglund, 2000).

Generally, the program achieved its stated objectives because there was an increased change on perception of women smokers as well as other important factors, which affected women such as working in police force and attending colleges.

In this case study, there was clear connection between the objective and evaluation method used. Bernays (2005) by adopting the right methods of evaluation, it is easy top measure the success of objectives set. For instance, by adopting the quantitative and qualitative methods of evaluation, it became easy for Bernay to monitor the changes taking place not only to women smokers, but also to the other aspects touching on feminism.

Overall Judgement

As a whole, the public relation program employed by Bernay was effective. The reason for this is that, it changed the mentality of many Americans on the need of recognizing rights relating to women, such as smoking, education, equal opportunity in work places among others (Bernays, 2005).

The major strengths of torches of freedom campaign were the ability of using sexual liberations in controlling the rights of women in US. Women were generally able to liberate their rights on vital areas such as work, education among other notable aspects because of participating in these campaigns. Further, it became easy to attain the much-needed equality with their male counterparts in both US and other parts of the world, due to increased public awareness on women rights (O'Keefe, 2010). Major weakness of the campaign was on lack of adequately sensitizing women on negative effects of drug abuse such as smoking, resulting to cancers among other notable diseases.

The major public relation principle learned is the need of recognizing on power of words. As indicated by the torches of freedom campaign, the use of one word or group of words is important in changing the minds of public, especially to matters pertaining sexual discriminations.

Faced with a problem like the one Bernay encountered, I would allow the public to have vivid picture of the positive and negative effects of my policy. For instance, there was need of allowing women to understand the impact of taking place in smoking activities, despite the great need of raising sales of cigarette companies (O'Keefe, 2010).


In the recent times, tobacco firms continue advertising cigarettes as torches of freedom as they seek to raise their market niche. They base their arguments on freedom and modernity in the new markets as well as use of imagery to advertise to women smokers, who are continuously gaining liberation and equality. In countries such as Spain, these have increased the number of women smokers, by 17% between 2007 and 2010. The campaign on torch of freedom continues to evolve, as more women are encouraged to smoke via social networks and internet, thus raised market niche for tobacco companies globally.


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