From the Penn State
Vance Packard (May 22, 1914 – December 12, 1996) was an American journalist, social critic, and author.
He was born in Granville Summit, Pennsylvania to parents Philip J. Packard and Mabel Case Packard.
Between 1920-32 he attended local public schools in State College, Pennsylvania where his father managed a farm owned by the Pennsylvania State College (later Penn State University). In 1932 he entered Penn State, majoring in English. He graduated in 1936, and worked briefly for the local newspaper, the Centre Daily Times. He earned his master's degree at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1937. That year, he joined the Boston Daily Record as a staff reporter and a year later, he married Virginia Matthews.
Watch an interview with Vance Packard, free from youtube.com.
About 1940, he became a reporter for the Associated Press and in 1942, joined the staff of The American Magazine as a section editor, later becoming a staff writer. The American Magazine closed in July, 1956, and Packard moved over to Collier's where he worked as a writer. Collier's, too, closed by the end of 1956, allowing Packard to devote his full attention to writing books. In 1957, The Hidden Persuaders was published and received national attention. The book launched Packard's career as a social critic and full-time lecturer and book author. In 1961 he was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Penn State University.
The Hidden Persuaders
In The Hidden Persuaders, first published in 1957, Packard explores the use of consumer motivational research and other psychological techniques, including depth psychology and subliminal tactics, by advertisers to manipulate expectations and induce desire for products, particularly in the American postwar era. He identified eight "compelling needs" that advertisers promise products will fulfill. According to Packard these needs are so strong that people are compelled to buy products to satisfy them. The book also explores the manipulative techniques of promoting politicians to the electorate. The book questions the morality of using these techniques.
The Hidden Persuaders sold more than a million copies.
Packard died in 1996 at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital in Massachusetts.