Nicholas O’Shaughnessy is Professor of Emeritus of Communication at Queen Mary, University of London, UK and a Quondam Fellow of Hughes Hall Cambridge University. Earlier in his career he taught for eleven years at Cambridge.
Nicholas is the author or co-author or editor of numerous books on commercial and political persuasion. His recent books include: Key Readings In Propaganda (with Paul Baines, four volumes, Sage London 2012); Selling Hitler: Propaganda and the Nazi Brand, September 2016 Christopher Hurst; Marketing The Third Reich: Persuasion, Packaging and Propaganda, September 2017 Routledge; The Sage Handbook of Propaganda (co-editor), Sage 2020. ‘Theory and Concepts in Political Marketing’ (With SCM Henneberg and R Ormrod), Sage London, April 2013. Chinese Edition, Wisdom and Truth Publishing, Beijing 2018.
There have been journal articles as well which resonate with contemporary themes. Recent journal articles include: The Politics of Consumption And the Consumption of Politics: How Authoritarian Regimes Shape Public Opinion By Using Consumer Marketing Tools. Journal of Advertising Research, June 2017, 57 (2). Political Marketing: Throwing Away The Script: Donald Trump And The New Age of Rhetoric’. Special Issue on Rhetoric, Journal of Marketing Management. Putin, Xi, And Hitler: propaganda and the paternity of pseudo democracy. Defence Strategic Communications (the official journal of NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence) Vol 2 Spring 2017.
As a scholar he has charted a distinctive path throughout his career, both as lecturer in Marketing at Cambridge and since; specifically, his interest has been the migration of concepts and practices from consumer marketing field to politics, both in elections and in the practice of government. Latterly that interest has broadened into a more general attempt to revive the study of propaganda and rehabilitate the concept. Much of his specific contribution has been in the form of books, single authored, so-authored or edited.
He has also done consultancy work for the British and Amercian governments, published as: Towards the Measurement of Islamist Propaganda Effectiveness: A Marketing Perspective. With Paul Baines, Sage Handbook of Propaganda 2019. Al Qaeda message evolution and positioning, 1998- 2008: Propaganda analysis re-visited, Baines and O’Shaughnessy, Public Relations Inquiry pp 163-191 May 2014.
His work has been recognised by Kings College London War Studies, where he has been Visiting Professor since 2016 and gave the Saki Dockrill Memorial lecture in 2017; and he has been Quondam Fellow of Hughes Hall Cambridge since 2005.
Over the past few years Nicholas has participated in several dozen television documentaries.
His perspective has always been that persuasion is the hidden hand of history, its core dynamic. And certainly it is the case that propaganda has become again an important part of our global public and civic discourse: an era of Trump, the online ‘Jihad’, Russian troll farms, Cambridge Analytica, the politicization of social media, the menace of disinformation or ‘fake news’. He summarises his work thus: “Ultimately the concern is with the ‘engineering of consent’- the troubling matter of how public opinion can be manufactured, and governments elected, via sophisticated methodologies of persuasion developed in the consumer economy”.