Edward Bernays, born in Vienna in 1891 and famously the nephew of Sigmund Freud, was perhaps the pioneer in the field of Public Relations, and highly influential in providing the framework for modern advertising.
His work aimed to convince people to want things that they didn’t need, and in the process, link their unconscious desires to the consumption of mass produced goods. This in turn, it was theorized, could be used to control the masses, as by keeping them distracted on frivolous happenings and relatively unimportant wants, they wouldn’t interfere with the activities of what he called ‘the important few’.
All the while, he was remarkably candid about his intent. In one of his first books, ‘Propaganda’ (1928), he coined the term ‘engineering of consent’ to describe his technique for controlling the masses. In this podcast series, Guy Evans examines just how influential these ideas were, and details the resulting impact in relation to public relations, advertising, celebrity culture, and democracy itself.
Edward Bernays, the ‘Father’ of Public Relations and highly influential in informing modern advertising techniques, quite literally wrote the book on Propaganda. It was released in 1928 and makes the case that “the conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society (p.9).”
In this podcast series, Guy Evans examines just how influential Bernays’ ideas were, and details the resulting impact in relation to public relations, advertising, celebrity culture, and democracy itself. This week, Chapter 2 is under the microscope, a chapter that further details the scientific underpinning that explains how the minority influence the majority.
“A presidential candidate may be ‘drafted’ in response to ‘overwhelming popular demand’, but it is well known that his name may be decided upon by half a dozen men sitting around a table in a hotel room.” – Edward Bernays
This week Guy Evans examines Chapter 3 of Edward Bernays’ seminal text ‘Propaganda’. In this chapter, ‘The New Propagandists’, Bernays characteristically boasts that the public are not aware of the ‘invisible rulers’ that control elected figureheads behind the scenes. He suggests that public opinion must be molded by the ‘intelligent few’, and argues that in many aspects of our daily lives, we are influenced by deceptive trend-setters that manipulate our desires and cause us to make uninformed, irrational choices. Enjoy the podcast and share with a friend.
Chapter 4 of ‘Propaganda’ by Edward Bernays is held under the microscope this week in Episode 67 of the Smells Like Human Spirit Podcast. Guy Evans examines how Bernays learned from his peers – Walter Lippmann, Gustave Le Bon, Graham Wallas, and Wilfred Trotter in particular, and subsequently advised governments to exclude their people from important affairs. Instead of encouraging active political participation, he adopted new theories on mass psychology that would reduce individuals to nothing more than consumers, never happy, and never satisfied. A great show as ever so enjoy, and peace!
Episode 70 of the Smells Like Human Spirit Podcast examines Chapter 5 of Edward Bernays’ ‘Propaganda’. Chapter 5 features several recurring topics; notably, aspirational culture, the manufacture of new customers, and controlling the public mind. Guy Evans looks at each of these key themes, and with the help of Mad Men’s Don Draper(!), investigates the strength of the emotional connection between ourselves and the products that we buy.
What does it mean to be a leader? According to Edward Bernays, the ‘Father of Public Relations’, a leader is most effective when acting as a dictator. In this episode of the Smells Like Human Spirit Podcast, Guy Evans begins to break down Chapter 6 of Bernays’ magnum opus ‘Propaganda’ – revealing the author’s distorted view of leadership, and his widely shared belief that the public’s apathy results in their own oppression.
Episode 76 of the Smells Like Human Spirit Podcast continues Guy Evans’ systematic examination of Edward Bernays’ seminal text, ‘Propaganda’. This week, he breaks down further Chapter 6, ‘Propaganda and Political Leadership’, which alludes to themes of personality, image, brand association, and the co-operation between the business and political worlds.
For Episode 79 of the Smells Like Human Spirit Podcast, Guy Evans finishes breaking down Chapter 6 (‘Propaganda and Political Leadership’) of Edward Bernays’ seminal text ‘Propaganda’. In a mammoth 93 minute edition of the show, find out how Bernays predicted that the politicians of the future would originate from the same social circles; discover how the techniques developed in his era to pique public interest in prominent personalities are still utilized today; and enjoy a special guest interview from Vasko Atanasoski of the Macedonian band ‘Bernays Propaganda’.
There is perhaps no truer application of the adage ‘actions speak louder than words’ than in examining the life and work of ‘The Father of Public Relations’, Edward Bernays. While on one hand, Bernays seemingly supported women’s liberation, his advertising techniques contributed heavily to making smoking a socially viable and desirable activity for women.
Episode 81 of the Smells Like Human Spirit Podcast focuses on Chapter 7 (‘Women’s Activities and Propaganda’). Past attitudes to women’s smoking, Bernays’ influence, and the long-term effects of his strategies are all discussed; and in the end, you may see that the more that things have changed, the more that they have stayed the same. This show contains an interview with Dr. Jerry Kroth, Professor Emeritus at Santa Clara University, on the topic of propaganda techniques.
Episode 83 of the Smells Like Human Spirit Podcast features Part 10 of our mini-series dissecting Edward Bernays’ seminal text ‘Propaganda’. In this show, the focus is placed specifically on Chapter 8 (‘Propaganda for Education’), which alludes to themes of standardized testing, the dichotomy between theoretical and practical knowledge, and the general limitations of Educational systems. Did Edward Bernays’ contempt for ‘ordinary’ people influence his views on Education?
The Smells Like Human Spirit Podcast rolls on with Part 11 of our series breaking down Edward Bernays’ influential text ‘Propaganda’. This show focuses on Chapter 9 of the book, ‘Propaganda and Social Service’, which further exposes Bernays’ determination that the wealthy should direct the priorities of a particular society.
Who decides what is and isn’t important? Who creates the demand for a particular product or service? What is the public’s role in this process? In Chapter 10 (‘Art and Science’) of Edward Bernays’ seminal text ‘Propaganda’, the ‘Father of PR’ outlines his contention that the mechanism of propaganda must be used to ‘accustom the public to change and progress.’ In a short but insightful chapter, Bernays states that propaganda helps to establish what is beautiful, valuable, and desirable, specifically using the marketing of Art galleries as his example.
Although on the surface it may be ludicrous to suggest that contemporary art is a hoax, sold to us as being beautiful and revolutionary through the mechanism of propaganda, consider what our author Edward Bernays accomplished in terms of establishing the idea that the presence of a piano was essential in a modern home.
So what is art? Who defines it? Who controls it?