Dan Edelman began his career as a reporter in Poughkeepsie, NY before he was drafted during World War II, receiving four battle stars and the Commendation Medal. He later became a news writer for CBS and served as PR director for the Toni Company before founding his own firm.
He founded Daniel J. Edelman, Inc. in Chicago in 1952, and helped grow the company into the world’s largest PR firm, which now bills over $770 million. Early clients included Sara Lee, Brunswick bowling equipment, ReaLemon, and the California wine industry.
Edelman’s Toni Twins campaign on the agency side for the Toni Company is widely credited as being the first example of a media tour. He also created legendary PR campaigns featuring the likes of Colonel Sanders and Morris the Cat.
Other high-profile work was carried out on behalf of the country of Finland, which knighted Dan in 1978 for his efforts on behalf of the Nordic nation; Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn; supersonic passenger jet Concorde; the United Nations on behalf of six West African nations; automaker Toyota; tire manufacturer Bridgestone; Yoplait yogurt; and toymaker Mattel.
Resolutely independent, Dan resisted all temptations to sell his firm to one of the many large companies that made overtures to him over the years, and used this as a factor to convince his son Richard to enter the industry as soon as he had finished his MBA at Harvard Business School.
Richard followed Dan into the family firm in 1978 at age 24 and took over as CEO in 1996. Dan’s son John and daughter Renée also work at Edelman, as do granddaughters Margot and Tory. Current clients include Microsoft, General Electric, Wal-Mart, Abbott Laboratories, Samsung, Royal Dutch Shell, Kraft, Johnson & Johnson and Unilever.
Dan Edelman received a PRSA Gold Anvil Award, the first-ever Outstanding Achievement Award presented by the China International Public Relations Association, the Lion of Finland, the PRSA Lifetime Achievement Award and the PR Seminar Group Award for Distinguished Service.
Edelman graduated from Columbia College and earned an MS degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He was a member of the Arthur Page Society and The Seminar, and was a PRSA Fellow. He died in January 2013 at the age of 92.