EDWARD BERNAYS

As I am looking at persuasion and intervention as the topics for my subject within Guerrilla Marketing. I came across a man who completely changed and influenced advertising in the 19th and 20th century. Colin today showed an episode of a series shown on BBC  about Edward Bernays.

 

Edward Louis James Bernays (November 22, 1891 − March 9, 1995) was an Austrian-American pioneer in the field of public relations and ;propaganda, referred to in his obituary as “the father of public relations”. He combined the ideas of Gustav Le Bon and Wilfred Trotter on crowd psychology with the psychoanalytical ideas of his uncle, Sigmund Freud.

He felt this manipulation was necessary in society, which he regarded as irrational  and dangerous as a result of the “herd instinct” that Trotter had described.

Bernays refined and popularized the use of the press release, following its invention by PR man Ivy Lee, who had issued a press release after the 1906 Atlantic City Train Wreck. One of the most famous campaigns of Bernays was the women’s cigarette smoking campaign in 1920s. Bernays helped the smoking industry overcome one of the biggest social taboos of the time: women smoking in public. Women were only allowed to smoke in designated areas, or not at all. Women caught violating this rule were arrested.Bernays staged the 1929 Easter Parade in New York City, showing models holding lit Lucky Strike cigarettes, or “Torches of Freedom”. After the historic public event, women started lighting up more than ever before. It was through Bernays that women’s smoking habits started to become socially acceptable. Bernays created this event as news, which it was not. Bernays convinced industries that the news, not advertising, was the best medium to carry their message to an unsuspecting public.

One of Bernays’ favorite techniques for manipulating public opinion was the indirect use of “third party authorities” to plead his clients’ causes. “If you can influence the leaders, either with or without their conscious cooperation, you automatically influence the group which they sway.” he said. In order to promote sales of bacon, for example, he conducted a research and found that the American public ate very light breakfast of coffee, maybe a roll and orange juice. He went to his physician and found that a heavy breakfast was sounder from the standpoint of health than a light breakfast because the body loses energy during the night and needs it during the day. He asked the physician if he would be willing, at no cost, to write to 5,000 physicians and ask them whether their judgement was the same as his—confirming his judgement. About 4,500 answered back, all concurring that a more significant breakfast was better for the health of the American people than a light breakfast. He arranged for this finding to be published in newspapers throughout the country with headlines like ‘4,500 physicians urge bigger breakfast’. while other articles stated that bacon and eggs should be a central part of breakfast and, as a result of these actions, the sale of bacon went up.

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