Edward Bernays was Sigmund Freud’s nephew, so it makes sense that he had great insight into the human mind. Whereas Freud used his knowledge to probe deep questions on the psyche, Bernays wanted to make a quick buck. He achieved this with his 1928 book Propaganda. The book is now considered the fundamental text for public relations. It lays out how corporations and institutions can mold public opinion. Because of this book, Bernays has been called the father of advertising. Even though Bernays was Jewish, Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels was a huge fan. Goebbels says he modeled his approaches after those in Bernay’s book. Bernay’s practices have been put to more benign uses as well.
Following the publication of Propaganda, Bernays’s first assignment was to help the Woodrow Wilson administration brand World War I as the US bringing democracy to Europe. Advising Calvin Coolidge, Bernays was the first person to suggest that presidents eat pancake breakfasts with the electorate, a common practice today for politicians of any party. When women were not smoking cigarettes, he branded Lucky Strikes cigarettes as “torches of freedom” and put them in fashion shows. As a result, women started smoking cigarettes at unprecedented levels. Dixie Cups first became popular after he falsely claimed they were the only sanitary type of cup. Bernays helped organize the first meeting of the NAACP.
As important as those other campaigns were, his most scandalous was his work with the packing company Beechnut. When Americans were frequently just eating breakfasts of fruit, wheat, and milk, Bernays hired doctors to argue that people needed to eat hardier meals. These fabricated studies are the reason bacon and eggs are served at breakfast. It is hard to decide if Bernays’s legacy should be the man who helped the Nazis rise to power and give millions lung cancer or as the man who made bacon popular.
I'd say the man had a good mind for advertising and starting trends. Some I can agree with, others I don't. Maybe I should read his book, ya reckon?
Coffee in the kitchen again. Still too hot outside.