by Oana Godeanu-Kenworthy
Part 5 - ‘Peanuts’ pushes freedom
In the early 1970s, business responded to rising negativity about corporate power with a new campaign coordinated by the Ad Council.
“The American Economic System … and Your Part in It” was launched alongside the bicentennial national celebrations. It was the largest centralized pro-business public relations project thus far, but only one of many independently run by corporations.
The media industry donated $40 million in free space and air time in the first year of the campaign. The Department of Commerce and the Department of Labor contributed about half a million dollars toward the production costs for a 20-page booklet.
That booklet used data provided by the departments of Commerce and Labor and Charles Schulz’s ‘Peanuts’ comic strips to explain the benefits of America’s economic system. The system was again presented as a foundational freedom protected by a Constitution whose goal was to “maintain a climate in which people could work, invest, and prosper.”
By 1979, 13 million copies had been distributed to schools, universities, libraries, civic organizations and workplaces.