Advertising and marketing stunts that changed the world – Part 1
The world around us is shaped how only a few handful of people want it to be. All it takes is a really determined man not to let his business die, or a really greedy one that just can’t have enough. That’s how ideas, traditions and customs are born.
I’m speaking of course about advertising and marketing and how it’s shaping the world we live in. Let us begin with stunt number one. We will simply name it:
1. How the world got fat.
Let me ask you this first: How is it that the majority of the western world considers as normal breakfast the (almost) same foods, with pancakes, cereals, bacon or eggs being the norm? Well, you see, the rest of the world that doesn’t consider these foods as breakfast is because they were shielded by the advertising done to them. Let me clarify:
Not even half a century ago, bacon was considered as disgusting or alien for breakfast as we would consider sausages for desert. It only became the norm because of one company on the brink of bankruptcy and the help of one man. That man was Edward Bernays, considered the father of “viral” and PR. Also, the nephew of Sigmund Freud.
This company called Beech-Nut Packing, which was selling bacon at the time, figured that if Bernays managed to convince women to “smoke for freedom” or “independence” he might just be the man for the task they had in mind.
Bernays hatched up a plan and picked breakfast as a target, and he needed to convince the masses that breakfast should be bigger and more “healthier”. He did just that. How did he do it? Simple.
He picked a doctor and asked him this: “Would a bigger breakfast be considered healthier than a smaller one comprised of just toast and coffee?” the doctor of course, agreed. Then, after some small talk, forgetting about the first question, he asked the doctor if he agreed whether bacon and eggs would be considered a hearty meal (notice: not breakfast). He then continued this lengthy process of circling logic questions with another 5000 doctors, He then made his “findings” public and convinced the newspapers to pick up on this story, it soon went viral and people all over America started picking-up on the new trend.
You see, Brenays was fully aware that the opinion of a well-respected professional is ten times more valuable than that of a just a regular actor, or the company director, which was the norm at the time to use in commercials.
This stunt has been pulled before, with convincing women that Coca-Cola was the healthiest drink for their child or that doctors smoke Camels because it’s so much better than others.
Edward Bernays understood that we’re all hardwired the same, and that we pick-up on the same habits and traits that others around us have. He also believed that people are irrational, stupid and can be ruled by a mob-like mentality. You might not agree to it, but he strongly believed (and made this public in his book Propaganda) that propaganda was a sine-qua non condition for democracy to function properly.
*Article based on cracked.com’s 7 Sneakiest Ways Corporations Manipulated Human Behavior
- The people as Pavlov’s dogs (morningstaronline.co.uk)