Thursday, September 20, 2007
Mind Control: Breakfast of Champions
Thomas Pynchon sez: “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers.”
I’ve been very busy with some (paying) work as a ghostwriter...so that should help explain the scarcity of my comments here lately. Anyway, since two of the projects involve Edward Bernays—the father of American propaganda—I thought I’d share some of his handiwork here:
Asked by Beechnut Packing to increase their sales of bacon, Bernays conducted of a survey of medical professionals (“America’s leading physicians,” he claimed). “He didn’t just give them a wide open choice,” says Larry Tye, Bernays’ biographer. “He put the choice: the rushed breakfast that people are eating today or do you think of it as the good, hardy bacon and eggs breakfast?” Framed in such a manner, the vast majority doctors agreed that a good, hardy breakfast was superior to a rushed breakfast. Defining “hardy” as meaning bacon and eggs, Bernays publicized his survey results with great fanfare. His deceptive yet innovative strategy did much more than increase Beechnut’s size of the bacon market; it expanded the market itself.
“Modern propaganda,” wrote Bernays, “is a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group.” Thanks to this particular “enduring effort,” bacon and eggs eventually developed into the All-American breakfast while heart disease swiftly rose to become the nation’s leading cause of death.
For more about Bernays, here’s a new article of mine.