I first saw this video series years ago, long before I got into the business world. I just re-watched the four videos over the weekend and there is tons of information I have forgotten.
The video series is produced by Adam Curtis of the BBC. It is a four part documentary on the field of “Public Relations”. Adam shows over the series how the minds of Edward Bernays and his uncle Sigmund Freud changed the world of marketing and PR. Freud argues that at the core of all human brains are the animal instincts from our evolutionary days. We are prone to things or want, things of self. Here is a great example of the genius marketer that was Edward Bernays:
“Torches of Freedom” was a phrase used to encourage women’s smoking by exploiting women’s aspirations for a better life during the women’s liberation movement in the United States. Cigarettes were described as symbols of emancipation and equality with men. The term was first used by psychoanalyst A. A. Brill when describing the natural desire for women to smoke and was used by Edward Bernays to encourage women to smoke in public despite social taboos. Bernays hired women to march while smoking their “torches of freedom” in the Easter Sunday Parade of 1929 which was a significant moment for fighting social barriers for women smokers.
Here is the four part series:
Happiness Machines. Part one documents the story of the relationship between Sigmund Freud and his American nephew, Edward Bernays who invented Public Relations in the 1920s, being the first person to take Freud’s ideas to manipulate the masses.