Who is Edward Bernays?

by mooshoowrites

Besides single-handedly engineering the mass consumer culture we are all enslaved by, Edward Bernays was successful in mindfucking me into believing my smoking cigarettes was a semi (although an admittedly wussy ass) feminist statement…all before I was even born.

Edward Bernays was born in November of 1891, and it is quite necessary to mention that he is the DOUBLE nephew of Sigmund Freud. (His father was the brother of Freud’s wife, and his mother was Freud’s sister – side note – that shit be illegal in Korea.)

At the beginning of Bernay’s young adult life, he saw how successful war propaganda was in getting the American public to be on board with its participation in World War I. He began capitalizing on the potential success of propaganda, but knowing that the word itself triggered a negative emotional response in people, Bernays created the term “public relations.” 

He mixed in a lil bit of what he learned from guys like Gustave Le Bon about crowd psychology with a lot of what he learned from his Uncle Freud.

Bernay’s Rap Sheet Includes:

  1. First person to ever use product placement – you know, the Fedex in Cast Away, the Pizza Hut in Wayne’s World, the Nikes in Back to the Future, the RayBans in Top Gun. (Read the “Top 40 Product Placements of All Time” here)
  2. First person to bring in celebrities to the White House. Anyone who’s ever heard of President Coolidge has probably heard that he’s a boring, old, Scrooge-type guy. Bernays arranged for  Al Jolson, Ed Wynn, The Dolly Sisters, Charlotte Greenwood, Raymond Hitchcock, and other celebrities of the time to come to the White House for a special breakfast. Though witnesses say Coolidge looked grim and bored as fuck during the whole event, newspapers reported the next day, “Actor Eats Cake with the Coolidges…President Nearly Laughs…Guests Crack Dignified Jokes, Sing Song and Pledge to Support Coolidge.”
  3. Hired by Lucky Strike to increase cigarette sales. Bernays targeted women, and with the help of skip the sweetpsychoanalysts, realized that by pitching smoking cigarettes as a feminist movement, cigarette sales would sky rocket…and they did.
  4. Hired doctors to publish “independent studies” that would aid in selling a particular product. For an example, doctors were publishing studies that said Americans were consuming way too much sugar, at the same time, Bernay’s cigarette ads read “Reach for a Lucky Instead of a Sweet”

Edward Bernay’s published an essay titled “The Engineering of Consent” where he states that “the freedom of speech and its democratic corollary, a free press, have tacitly expanded our Bill of Rights to include the right of persuasion.”
He subtly pats his own back on the shoulder as he goes on to say how “it is a clear a leader in a democracy need not always possess the personal qualities [of someone famous as] Henry Clay. He need not be visible or even audible to his audiences.”
Since learning about this man in an Investigating Media course, not a single person – young or old, has heard of him – and yet we’re all affected by his systematic plans to keep us busy with shallow, consumerism driven lives, a plan set in place so that we don’t dare stop and think about the illusion we have created as a Reality and start to question the authority at hand.