While the Press Building was the steel
and mortar symbol of the Fair Corporation's efforts at publicity,
the story of the Communications & Public Relations
Department must be told to give a complete picture
of the monumental effort that was staged to tell the world about
the Fair. Their accomplishments were arguably the best
any Fair since has achieved. Here in a time-line, excerpted from
the Fair's Progress Reports, is how they did it.
Progress Report 4
January 17, 1962
All possible help is given to press, radio and television
covering events on the grounds in Flushing Meadow Park. The Department
plans cooperatively for special projects with other Fair departments,
or representatives of government, industry or civic groups; supplies
pictures and other materials to writers, broadcasters, book publishers,
and for tie-in advertising and promotion; arranges displays;
provides speakers; handles distribution of the Progress Film;
and is developing a New York World's Fair 1964-1965 exhibit at
the Century 21 Exposition in Seattle next year.
New York World's Fair exhibit at Century
Press copy is distributed not only to every newspaper in the
metropolitan area but to leading papers in every State; to local,
Federal and New York City officials; to all members of the State
legislature and the Governor's office; to all prominent columnists,
commentators and magazines; to all the leading advertising and
public relations agencies throughout the country; to all representatives
of the foreign press and to the New York correspondents of all
leading United States publications.
Information on the Fair is disseminated through out the United
States Information Agency. The Fair is cooperating with the Government's
"Travel U.S.A." program to increase foreign tourism
in this country. In the latter connection, the Fair supplied
a portable display for a Greyhound Bus "Travel U.S.A."
tour of Europe. In prospect for the near future are a number
of such displays for widespread use in banks, stores and travel
Progress Report 5
May 17, 1962
An experiment was conducted in the grass roots press when
a picture depicting two youngsters beside the Unisphere model
captioned, "A Boy's Eye View of the N. Y. World's Fair,"
was syndicated nationally. To date, more than 150 papers in five
languages have published the picture, thirty-four placing it
on the front page. Since the mat is "for anytime use,"
it is expected that it will be used more than 250 times this
Full page ads are being placed in important European publications
in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, The Netherlands,
Belgium, Ireland and in the international editions of the Journal
of Commerce as prepared by J. Walter Thompson.
The second progress film, narrated by Bob Considine, will
soon be released to television theaters, clubs and service groups
throughout the world. The first film was seen by more than eight
million people. The new production will probably have double
the audience. The United States Information Agency and the Armed
Services news agencies will cooperate in world-wide distribution
of the prints. Foreign language editions will spread the Fair
Progress Report 6
September 12, 1962
A groundswell of enthusiasm for the Fair's promotional potential
is spreading though out the communications industry. The policy
of presenting the story of the Fair to leaders in many fields
through its movies, its exhibit designs and models, and day-to-day
construction progress is producing not only world-wide press
and broadcast coverage but also detailed plans for network television
spectaculars, supplements in major metropolitan newspapers, full-length
motion pictures, commemorative stamps -- both here and overseas
-- all the ingredients that will make the World's Fair "the
biggest box office in history."
Mr. Berns and the public relations consultants addressed forty
delegates from among present exhibitors. They were given a detailed
report on Fair plans and agreed to place their own substantial
public relations organizations behind the total promotional effort.
Portion of an Advertisement appearing in
Business and Trade Publications.
Our program of international advertising, designed to attract
additional exhibitors, has been underway in western Europe for
the past several months. Advertisements have been run in periodicals
in France, England and West Germany. These have proved so successful
in building enthusiasm and support, the the campaign has been
extended to the principal countries of South America.
William J. Humphreys, shown with the World's
Fair poster in front of the Eiffel Tower, works through the Thomas
J. Deegan Company as European representative for the Fair.
Discussions were held and plans were outlined for making the
World's Fair the focal point of the 1963 Macy's Thanksgiving
Day Parade. Exhibitors will be asked to become major participants
in this parade, which is seen annually by a national television
audience of sixty million.
Fair News, a new publication of this department, printed
in English, Spanish and French, is now distributed on a monthly
basis to exhibitors, Federal officials, foreign governments and
the press -- a monthly circulation of fifteen thousand.
Progress Report 7
January 24, 1963
The work of helping to put the world in the Fair is now being
directed toward bringing the world to the Fair ... The job of
telling the whole story through feature material and the reporting
and detailing of day-to-day news is now in high gear. The department
is preparing to be host to the media of the world at its new
official headquarters in the World's Fair News Center.
Included among the many periodicals and newspaper-distributed
magazines whose editorial executives have visited the Fair are:
The Saturday Evening Post, New Yorker Magazine, Town & Country,
This Week Magazine, Esquire, Time, Life, McCall's, The New York
Times Sunday Magazine and the Sunday New York Herald Tribune
-- representing a total circulation of over 50,000,000 families.
Information brochures, posters, three-dimensional displays,
window and counter cards, slide packages, speakers kits, a graphic
standards book and radio and TV promotion kits have been prepared
and distributed by the Communications and Public Relations Department
and its consultants to the exhibitor's representatives, the travel
industry and to all the varied groups most concerned with the
public at large.
The goal, as in every Fair program, is the most effective
coordination of talent and resources to carry the Fair's message
across countries and continents.
Fair exhibit in Empire State Building
Progress Report 8
April 22, 1963
Advertisements appear in major publications.
Denny Griswold, editor and publisher of [Public Relations
News], and a director of the Fair, said, "With opening day
of the New York World's Fair set for April 22, 1964, Vice President
William Berns is one of the busiest public relations executives
in the nation. Between now and then, he and his staff face a
back-breaking schedule. In addition to handling separate dedication
ceremonies for each of scores of buildings to be erected, the
calendar lists, among others, the following events:
"...in April the steel supports for the Unisphere
will be lowered into place ... In May, the Queens Botanical
Gardens (to be part of the Fair) will be dedicated ... 'Around
the World in 80 Days,' a World's Fair extravaganza, will
debut in June at the Jones Beach Marine Theater ... In July,
Time and Life will stage a preview exhibit ... In August,
department stores in 23 cities will conduct a tie-in promotion
... In September, schools and colleges throughout the nation
will salute the Fair ... In October, a helicopter carrying distinguished
visitors will arrive for the opening of the Fair's Terrace
Club ...Macy's will theme its Thanksgiving Day Parade
on the Fair ... Use of World's Fair tickets as Christmas
gifts will be promoted throughout the month of December ... In
January, TV networks and national magazine audiences will
be major targets ... In February there will be saturation
publicity about how to get to the Fair ... March will see
an intensification of media coverage and of the advance tickets
Life, March 8, 1963
One of the many promotional materials
under development by the Fair is the kiosk pictured above. Orders
are being taken now for the kiosks, which have been designed for
the sale of tickets and distribution of Fair folders and brochures
and will be installed in department stores throughout the country.
-Fair News, Vol.
2, No. 7
-July 22, 1963
October 13, 1964
The activities of this department with the aid of its consulting
firms will be directed toward the press and public during the
interim period and into the 1965 season. Some highlights of the
program, as it is now developing are:
Fair Film -- The Fair Corporation has retained Francis
Thompson to produce a half-hour motion picture of the Fair. this
will be Mr. Thompson's first production since his highly acclaimed
Johnson's Wax film, and will be seen by approximately 25 to 30
million people during the coming year, through television, theaters
and private club groups.
Advertising -- J. Walter Thompson is preparing recommendations
for advertising by the Fair during the interim period and on
into the second year of the Fair. Plans call for advertising
concentration in the Metropolitan area.
Radio and Television -- Another Opening Day Program
is in the discussion with NBC, which was responsible for the
first Opening Day Program, seen by a world-wide audience of 500
Promotional Materials -- New posters (2), new promotional
folders, and displays are being designed for distribution to
travel agents, department stores, supermarkets, and other outlets.
New posters for the 1965 Season
In general, this Department continues to work closely with
other Fair Departments and all exhibitors in order to assure
the expected higher attendance for the 1965 season.
What went wrong?
William Berns, vice president,
Communications and Public Relations, makes first call on a bank
of touch-tone telephones just installed in the Fair's ultra-modern
- -Fair News, Vol. 3, No.
- -January 22, 1964
Despite the all-out campaign to sell the
Fair to the world, attendance at the 1964/1965 New York World's
Fair fell nearly 20 million visits short of estimates. "Come
Back to the Fair," the 1965 advertising theme expressed
in the posters shown above, was nearly a plea -- one that fell
on deaf ears as attendance for the second season was even less
than that of the first!
Throughout its run the Fair faced a constant
barrage of bad publicity. Attacks ranged from charges of "crass
commercialism," lack of Fine Art, uninspired exhibits and
theme, hodge-podge architecture, lack of minorities in employ
of the Fair, outrageous prices charged to exhibitors, among many,
many others. And once the Fair became financially troubled during
the 1965 season the press attacks became even more severe. In
light of all the Fair did to court the Press, perhaps the old
saying "that's gratitude for you" is in order.
Yet it can be argued that one of the reasons
the Fair remains an icon today is because of the efforts of William
Berns and the Communications and Public Relations Department
Staff. Anyone old enough to be told that New York was
holding a World's Fair in 1964/1965, no doubt, remembers today.