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Bernays, Propaganda

Object: 03

Bernays, Propaganda

Date of origin: 1927
Author/inventor/context: Edward Bernays

Disguised as a defence of propaganda, Propaganda (published in 1927) was in fact an ingenious advertisement for public relations by gifted persuader Edward Bernays. Influenced by Walter Lippman’s ‘engineering of consent’ and the research of Ivan Pavlov, Bernays argues that corporations and governments can shape and manipulate public opinion by appealing to people’s hidden emotional life. Applying the theories of Freud for commercial and political ends, Bernays catalogues his techniques such as PR stunts that become news, celebrity endorsement or the apparently ‘independent study’ that makes ‘groundbreaking research’ to prove a product is good for you. Bernay’s legacy includes the skill of justifying war on the grounds of making the world safe for democracy and making popular the idea of fried bacon for breakfast.

HeHe (Helen Evans, Heiko Hansen)