breaking the taboo on women smoking

  Originally uploaded by eschipul

I love this photo from Dr. Sketchy’s in Houston. And I realize this is a talented model playing a role. Yet it reminded me of a famous story from the history of public relations that few are aware of. Bernays was truly a double edged sword.

From the BBC article on Edward Bernays.

Bernays was one of the main architects of the modern techniques of mass-consumer persuasion, using every trick in the book, from celebrity endorsement and outrageous PR stunts, to eroticising the motorcar.

His most notorious coup was breaking the taboo on women smoking by persuading them that cigarettes were a symbol of independence and freedom. But Bernays was convinced that this was more than just a way of selling consumer goods. It was a new political idea of how to control the masses. By satisfying the inner irrational desires that his uncle had identified, people could be made happy and thus docile.

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