Eddie Bernays hooked a generation of women on this brand. Credit: Festimb / Flickr Creative Commons
There’s a reason that women smoke. There’s a reason Calvin Coolidge was elected President. There’s a reason that bacon and eggs are a classic American breakfast. Well, there are a lot of reasons. But a big reason was Edward Bernays, the father of public relations. Larry Tye, author of The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations, talks about Bernays’ considerable influence, and how he taught corporations and politicians about the art of persuasion.
- Perhaps the most power example of Bernays’ influence on American consumerism was his ability to persuade a generation of women to take up cigarette smoking. In the 1920s, smoking was seen as an “unladylike” activity, so Lucky Strikes hired Bernays to expand the market. of wealthy society women, he linked smoking to women’s empowerment and shattered the stigma of female smoking.
- Bernays wasn’t an advertiser. Instead, he shaped public opinion in more insidious ways. When the booksellers of America wanted to sell more books, he got home-builders to build bookshelves directly into people’s houses. Because if people had bookshelves, they would feel compelled to fill them with books.
- Early on, it was clear that PR had a role to play in politics. Bernays even helped Calvin Coolidge shed his frumpy image for the 1924 election. And, Tye thinks the modern-day figure who really gets the art of PR is Donald Trump, who Tye says understands which hot-buttons to push and how to craft a magnetic message.
- Edward Bernays in the 1980s.
- Another look at Eddie Bernays, from .