By Hanan Awaad
I am fascinated with everything old, especially advertisement. While I was searching for some cool ads, I remembered a line from an old Egyptian movie about the cigarettes brand ‘Lucky Strike’. My research led me to a 1930s ad that says: “Light a Lucky and you will never miss sweets that make you fat”. In the ad, a picture of a beautiful actress – I loved her haircut – named Constance Talmadge. Edward Bernays was the mastermind behind a clever campaign to attract women to smoking. Bernays’ campaign to banish fat by smoking succeeded, but it was not enough for him or the tobacco industry, so, he introduced his second campaign. ‘Achieve equality between sexes by smoking’ was the theme of the second campaign. Feminism was the magic wand that enabled Bernays reaches all women that he couldn’t reach with his first campaign.
All that was said before is not interesting …. a clever PR professional , the nephew of the Godfather of the sexual revolution , Sigmund Freud. What really interested me is to learn that Bernays never smoked and had struggled with his wife to quit smoking. The hypocrisy of the clever PR mastermind reminded me of the same hypocrisy of Robert Moses when he changed the whole urban plan of New York City to support the automobile industry while he never drove a car himself. I don’t even need to think of other examples as Leonard Feinberg said: “There is no need to marshal overwhelming evidence to show the hypocrisy of business. The evidence is everywhere.”
In his highly-quoted book in marketing and PR literature, Propaganda, Bernays says: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.” I couldn’t establish any ethical relationship between manipulation – even the so-called conscious and intelligent – and democracy. You will never hear a speech of any presidential candidate that has no mention of democracy. But it seems that we have many versions of democracy.
Originally posted 2016-04-27 16:16:00.