If you could only watch one video series on product marketing, this should be it.


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.


The Engineering of Consent. Part two explores how those in power in post-war America used Freud’s ideas about the unconscious mind to try and control the masses. Politicians and planners came to believe Freud’s underlying premise that deep within all human beings were dangerous and irrational desires.


There is a Policeman Inside All of Our Heads, He Must Be Destroyed. In the 1960s, a radical group of psychotherapists challenged the influence of Freudian ideas, which lead to the creation of a new political movement that sought to create new people, free of the psychological conformity that had been implanted in people’s minds by business and politics


Eight People Sipping Wine In Kettering. This episode explains how politicians turned to the same techniques used by business in order to read and manipulate the inner desires of the masses. Both New Labor with Tony Blair and the Democrats led by Bill Clinton, used the focus group which had been invented by psychoanalysts in order to regain power.


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