While no single person can claim exclusive credit for the ascendancy of advertising in American life, no one deserves credit more than a man most of us have never heard of: Edward Bernays. The fact that 20 years have elapsed since his death provides a fitting opportunity to reexamine his legacy. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, and our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of…. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind. The year after his birth, the Bernays family moved to New York, and Bernays later graduated from Cornell with a degree in agriculture.
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His great grandfather was Isaac Bernays , chief rabbi of Hamburg. The Bernays family moved from Vienna to the United States in the s. Ely Bernays became a grain exporter at the Manhattan Produce Exchange, then sent for his wife and children.
Fleischman in Later, however, she changed her mind and her name, becoming Doris Bernays. By all accounts, Fleischman played a major though quiet role in the Bernays public relations business—including ghost-writing numerous memos and speeches, and publishing a newsletter.
He went to Paris and worked for Louis Dreyfus and Company reading grain cables. By December of the same year[ clarification needed ] he had returned to New York. They took editorial positions in favor of showers and against corsets and distributed free copies to thousands of physicians across the country.
You can count on our help. Rockefeller, Jr. Already, he was using a variety of techniques which would become hallmarks of his later practice. He promoted the Daddy Long Legs stage play by tying it in with the cause of charity for orphans. He built up Enrico Caruso as an idol whose voice was so sensitive that comically extreme measures were taken to protect it. Bernays, along with Lieutenant F. Ackerman, focused on building support for war, domestically and abroad, focusing especially on businesses operating in Latin America.
A scandal arose from his reference to propaganda in a press release. In other words, what could be done for a nation at war could be done for organizations and people in a nation at peace. In he published a book, " Crystallizing Public Opinion ", outlining his profession, and taught a course at New York University.
Both of these are considered firsts in the modern field of public relations. Bernays, who pursued his calling in New York City from to , styled himself a "public relations counsel". He had very pronounced views on the differences between what he did and what people in advertising did. A pivotal figure in the orchestration of elaborate corporate advertising campaigns and multi-media consumer spectacles, he nevertheless is among those listed in the acknowledgments section of the seminal government social science study "Recent Social Trends in the United States" Bernays attempted to help Venida hair nets company to get women to wear their hair longer so they would use hairnets more.
The campaign failed but did get government officials to require hairnets for some jobs. The campaign successfully convinced people that Ivory soap was medically superior to other soaps. He also promoted soap through sculpting contests and floating contests because the soap floated better than competing products.
Yet another client, department store visionary Edward A. A follow-up event for the 75th anniversary, produced for television by David O. Political clients[ edit ] In Bernays set up a vaudeville "pancake breakfast" for Calvin Coolidge to change his stuffy image before the election. Bernays advised Hoover to create disunity within his opposition and to present an image of himself as an invincible leader.
For example, he should tell Irish voters about his actions against the Italian mafia —and Italian voters about his plans to reform the police department. To Jews he should appear as a committed opponent of the Nazis. Freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, and freedom of petition were added to the Constitution of India. His campaign was considered successful because there was no violence at the convention.
His campaign focused on the important contributions of African-Americans to Whites living in the South. His relationship with Freud was always in the forefront of his thinking and his counseling. Tobacco[ edit ] In , Bernays worked briefly for Liggett and Myers , makers of Chesterfield cigarettes. He pulled a stunt against the competing brand, Lucky Strike , which involved mocking the endorsements of opera singers who said Lucky Strikes were "kind to your voice".
The first strategy was to persuade women to smoke cigarettes instead of eating. Bernays began by promoting the ideal of thinness itself, using photographers, artists, newspapers, and magazines to promote the special beauty of thin women. Medical authorities were found to promote the choice of cigarettes over sweets. Home-makers were cautioned that keeping cigarettes on hand was a social necessity.
But a taboo remained on women smoking in public. The event was carefully scripted to promote the intended message. Bernays wrote:  Because it should appear as news with no division of the publicity, actresses should be definitely out. Of course they are not to smoke simply as they come down the church steps. They are to join in the Easter parade, puffing away.
The march went as planned, as did the ensuing publicity, with ripples of women smoking prominently across the country. When Bernays suggested changing the package to a neutral color, Hill refused, saying that he had already spent millions advertising the package. Bernays then endeavored to make green a fashionable color.
The pretext for the ball and its unnamed underwriter was that proceeds would go to charity. Famous society women would attend wearing green dresses. Manufacturers and retailers of clothing and accessories were advised of the excitement growing around the color green.
Intellectuals were enlisted to give highbrow talks on the theme of green. Staff were instructed never to mention his name. Third parties were used, and various notable people received payments to promote smoking publicly as if on their own initiative. Promote them he did, by linking bananas to good health and to American interests, and by placing them strategically in the hands of celebrities, in hotels, and other conspicuous places.
Bernays also argued that United Fruit needed to put a positive spin on the banana-growing countries themselves, and for this purpose created a front group called the Middle America Information Bureau, which supplied information to journalists and academics.
News knows no boundaries today. To disregard the possibilities of the impact of events one upon another is to adopt a head-in-the-sand-ostrich policy. He recommended a campaign in which universities, lawyers, and the US government would all condemn expropriation as immoral and illegal; the company should use media pressure "to induce the President and State Department to issue a policy pronouncement comparable to the Monroe Doctrine concerning expropriation.
A Bernays memo in July recommended that this wave of media attention should be translated into action by promoting: a a change in present U. This technique proved highly effective and was repeated four more times. The CIA backed a minimal military force, fronted by Carlos Castillo Armas , with a psychological warfare campaign to portray military defeat as a foregone conclusion.
During the coup itself, Bernays was the primary supplier of information for the international newswires Associated Press , United Press International and the International News Service. In , Bernays produced a pamphlet comparing the Communist way and the Christian way. In order to promote sales of bacon, for example, he conducted 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, physicians and ask them whether their judgment was the same as his—confirming his judgment. About 4, answered back, all concurring that a more significant breakfast was better for the health of the American people than a light breakfast.
The recent practice of propaganda has proved that it is possible, at least up to a certain point and within certain limits. Instead, their preconceived hazy ideas that a certain gray is almost black or almost white are brought into sharper focus. Their prejudices, notions, and convictions are used as a starting point, with the result that they are drawn by a thread into passionate adherence to a given mental picture.
The individual is "a cell organized into the social unit. Touch a nerve at a sensitive spot and you get an automatic response from certain specific members of the organism.
Through the use of mass production, big business could fulfill the cravings of what Bernays saw as the inherently irrational and desire-driven masses, simultaneously securing the niche of a mass-production economy even in peacetime , as well as sating what he considered to be dangerous animal urges that threatened to tear society apart if left unquelled.
Bernays touted the idea that the "masses" are driven by factors outside their conscious understanding, and therefore that their minds can and should be manipulated by the capable few. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.
This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.
Marvin Olasky calls his book Take Your Place at the Peace Table "a clear appeal for a form of mild corporate socialism. According to Scott Cutlip , "Bernays was a brilliant person who had a spectacular career, but, to use an old-fashioned word, he was a braggart. Reviewers praised Crystallizing Public Opinion as a pioneering study of the importance of something called public opinion.
Propaganda drew more criticism for its advocacy of mass manipulation. As the leading figure in public relations and a notorious advocate of "propaganda", Bernays was compared to European fascists such as Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Hitler.
Share Edward Bernays, PR pioneer, late s. Edward Bernays November 22, - March 9, is regarded by many as the "father of public relations," although some people believe that title should be shared with other early PR practitioner, such as Ivy Lee. The recent practice of propaganda has proved that it is possible, at least up to a certain point and within certain limits. He called this scientific technique of opinion-molding the "engineering of consent. In order to promote sales of bacon, for example, he conducted a survey of physicians and reported their recommendation that people eat hearty breakfasts.
Edward Bernays and the Engineering of Consent
Overview[ edit ] In his own words, Bernays describes engineering consent as "use of an engineering approach—that is, action based only on thorough knowledge of the situation and on the application of scientific principles and tried practices to the task of getting people to support ideas and programs. Their dispassionate approach and methods may be likened to those of the engineering professions which stem from the physical sciences. Consent that is thus engineered is difficult to distinguish in any fundamental way from the consent that supports modern totalitarian governments. Were the manipulated voter to become the normal voter, the government he supports could hardly be said to rest on his consent in any traditional sense of that word.
The Engineering of Consent