Annual EBHS Conference, 39th Annual Economic and Business History Society Conference

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The Public Relations Campaign of the Canadian Brewers during World War Two: A Case of Deep Capture?
Matthew J Bellamy

Last modified: 2014-05-05

Abstract


This paper examines the unfolding of the brewers’ public relations campaign in Ontario, Canada’s most populated province, during WWII. By casting light on the cultural basis, organizational structure and rationale, and day-to-day practices of the Public Relations Committee of the Brewers of Ontario (PRCBO), it aims to add to our understanding of what Robert Jackall and Janice Hirota term “the ethos advocacy.” The article argues that during the war the brewers undertook a public relations campaign to convince Canadians that brewing and beer drinking were beneficial to the nation at war. At a time when temperance advocates were seeking a return to prohibition, the brewers employed professional communicators not only to improve their public image, but also to achieve a number of political and economic objectives. As a result, public relations became a form of “deep capture.” By capturing a significant portion of the press and disseminating pro-beer propaganda, the brewers managed to keep public opinion on the industry’s side and, ultimately, to prevent the federal government from passing prohibitionist legislation.