The manipulation of the American mind: Edward Bernays and the birth of public relations by Richard Gunderman

Daedalus Magazine

Edward Bernays applied the principles of propaganda to marketing. Art: SMC

Richard Gunderman, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

“The most interesting man in the world.” “Reach out and touch someone.” “Finger-lickin’ good.” Such advertising slogans have become fixtures of American culture, and each year millions now tune into the Super Bowl as much for the ads as for the football.

While no single person can claim exclusive credit for the ascendancy of advertising in American life, no one deserves credit more than a man most of us have never heard of: Edward Bernays.

I first encountered Bernays through an article I was writing on propaganda, and it quickly became clear that he was one of the 20th century’s foremost salesmen of ideas. The fact that 20 years have elapsed since his death provides a fitting opportunity to reexamine his legacy.

Bernays pioneered public relations

Art: SMC

Often referred to as…

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