Sunday, July 5, 2015

How Bacon Became Popular

Bacon Bananas Bernays

“Two most magic words “Studies show…”

“If a tabloid prints a sex crime, it's smut, but when The New York Times prints it, it's a sociological study.” Adolph Ochs – founder of the New York Times

Here’s a fascinating item: Ed Bernays (another guy from Austria/Germany who later moved to the United States and worked for President Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge) is known as one of the “fathers” of Advertising/Spin/Public Relations. And guess what? Ed Bernays was the nephew of Sigmund Freud.
 Bernays had grown up watching people fall under the spell of his Uncle Sigmund– simply because Freud stated he had “Science” backing his opinions.
Bernays learned that the fastest way to convince people was to say “According to Doctors…”  or “According to Scientists” and people were trusting because remember,  America was built on character – on people being honest and because we’ve been taught that the highly educated (doctors, scientists, etc) are superior.    

In 1925, the Beech-Nut Corporation was trying to sell bacon but no one was eating it. Bacon was not popular (hard to believe!), no one ate it for breakfast. Breakfast in the 1920’s consisted of a cup of coffee and toast. So Bernays approached a doctor with a simple question: Was a hearty breakfast better for a person or no breakfast? Once he had the obvious answer, he then asked whether bacon and eggs could be considered a hearty breakfast. Again the doctor agreed. That was all he needed; Bernays repeated this process with many more doctors, using this vague method to get doctors to agree that fried fatty meat (and I love bacon, by the way!) is a healthy way to start your day. Newspapers across the country treated the publicity stunt as a scientific study and ran story after story about how, if you weren't starting the day with a big plate full of bacon and eggs, you were signing your own death certificate. Beech-Nut's sales soared and everyone went bananas for bacon.
Speaking of bananas…
Bernays was hired by United Fruit to sell bananas. So Bernays created a mass market via sneaky methods. He found an old report by a doctor on the beneficial effects of bananas on infant digestion.  He created a fake/front organization with an innocent sounding yet convincing name: the Medical Review of Reviews. The MRR distributed copies of the report and relayed the information to mass media outlets such as newspapers and women’s magazines. The technique worked. Bananas were the new super food thanks to the approval of  ‘Modern Medical Science’ and earned the reputation of a healthy food, with United Fruit, of course, the undisclosed beneficiary of a doctored report which became a trend which has become a habit.

With bacon and bananas, Bernays realized how easily people fall for what he called ‘spinning’ and also what we call “doctoring the facts” All it takes is a few sentences of citing ‘scientific research’ and people are sold. Bernays believed that behind every campaign, the marketing/public relation guru should use the phrase ‘based on psychology and sociology.’

Aristotle believed that appealing to emotions (fears/desires) rather than reason was the fastest way to sell people on an idea. 
Bernays took the wisdom from the great Philosophers and re-crafted, repackaged it as the “Science of Marketing.”
Bernays combined creative ‘science’ with bold stunts like the one he did to sell cigarettes at the Easter Parade in 1929.  

In 1929 the American Tobacco Company had a problem. Men were smoking, but women were not. They hired Bernays and even though there was evidence that smoking was hazardous, Bernays was aware that women, who had only been allowed to vote since 1920, were still fighting to be taken seriously.
So he took the cigarette, called them “Torches of Freedom" and had his secretary Bertha Hunt, send a telegram to ‘beautiful’ women from a list of elite, wealthy, families. The list had been provided by the editor of popular women’s magazine – (this was long before Google and Facebook sold personal information!). Bernays secretary appealed to the women by using their emotions and desire to be significant.  He asked them if  “they would join in doing something that would strike a match to light women's freedom!” 
The targeted women arrived and took part in a carefully staged event -  that was made to look like a spontaneous event - and marched down Fifth Avenue on Easter Sunday, 1929. 
Bernays had notified the press beforehand to what was going to happen. Though it appeared to outsiders to be a spur-of-the-moment incident, everything had been perfectly scripted.  Bernays recast smoking as an act of women's liberation, the parade made headlines coast to coast, and convinced a generation of women to start smoking - increasing profits for Bernays tobacco company client.
Ironic, isn’t it, that our rational, practical, mind knew all along that  putting chemicals into our body wasn’t beneficial- HOWEVER, smoking was billed as a “women’s right – a women’s choice!” And by using attractive women in “news stories” sold a whole country on smoking; Beautiful rich women smoked. Smoking was a symbol of freedom. Smoking was cool, hip, and rebellious!
Bernays understood that people respond more quickly when using emotions –by using something that was socially and symbolically important. And the instinct in terms of cigarettes wasn't to convince women that buying cigarettes made any rational sense or that the money they would spend or what they were putting into their body made sense. It was to tap into something that was instinctively important; our biological desire to be significant and to be independent.  Bernays appealed t the women that they were sending the message of  freeing themselves from the idea it was okay for men to smoke but distasteful for women.
Everybody wants to be liberated, “free” and the cigarette sent a message of status (all the elite pretty girls are smoking), and stood for freedom (which is quite ironic because cigarettes made us addicted, dependent and sick).

These same techniques are still regularly used to market health fads, dietary supplements, and hijack social movements (feminism, civil rights, children’s rights, religious rights),  into selling often questionable products and/or ideas.

“Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”
― Eric Hoffer

These techniques are nothing but illusions disguised as news, or issues on talk shows. They appear as scientific reports and studies from ‘independent testing firms’ - the primary recipients who you know nothing about (like bananas and the United Fruit Company,  bacon and the Beech-Nut Corporation) and these companies benefit while you pay.

The Middle American Information Bureau and the Medical Review Reviews were only two fake “front groups” of many that Bernays set up during his career to get out supposedly “neutral” information. If a client was willing to pay enough money, Bernays set up front groups for every client that he could, and he had over 400 clients over the years.

Do you ever notice that as soon as someone quotes a statistic…if  the statistic is coming from an authentic sounding institution, you don’t really question it.
Take this study from The International Psychology Institute (IPI): “In a factor analysis of 200 Men, Cognitive Scientists found women 80% more attractive if they were wearing red lipstick.”
What you don’t know it that the International Psychology Institute doesn’t really exist – it’s a P.O. Box somewhere in New York. The IPI is really a front group – an offshoot of a cosmetics corporation – and that ‘study’ will be posted on an advertisement for their new line of red lipstick.

If the organization sounds legitimate, we don’t question the studies. If the studies are being reported in a newspaper or on a major news network, we often believe them. Perhaps the organization is real, but understand that, just like Bernays always did, the studies or statistics have been manipulated to ‘prove’ their opinion is true.  But maybe what they aren’t telling you is in the survey of  men who found the women wearing red lipstick were more attractive it was because they were being comparing women wearing lipstick with pictures of women who had just rolled out of bed…or perhaps they were comparing a woman with a rock and posing the question; “Which do you find more attractive?”
Terms like “factor analysis” “ multifaceted scaling” and “ data clustering” all sound impressive but they are simply just words and phrases that sound really intellectual. 

When Ed Bernays became involved in “Public Relations” there were only a few people in that field. Now, we have over 150,000 people using manipulated data to sell us ‘information’ which will help make us ‘better’ people.

Bernays, like his Uncle Freud, didn't believe in God. He believed the PR man was God: that PR people had to tame the unruly masses, to give them order and to lead them in a- “socially useful direction” But that social direction was one that served his clients.

As I write this, Hillary Clinton has been exposed for running a front organization called “The Clinton Foundation.” Millions of dollars were donated to it by people looking for favors and people who actually believed the foundation was doing good work. It’s not just democrats or republicans or marketers who do this; you see it all the time with people on social networks using social causes, ‘social awareness campaigns. ’  You see it on Go Fund Me sites…people pretending  they have cancer or are raising money to help a need family or ill dog…in essence, these are personal front organizations. 

The solution is awareness – and some legwork. The bad news is, it might take a bit of time. The good news is, we have more access to information now more than ever. But always remember, don’t stop when your search leads you to “The Foundation For Women’s Equality” – don’t stop when you see 12 names listed on the board of directors. Sadly, you have to drill all the way down to make sure you aren’t being misled. That you are donating money to an actual organization that is using the money for what they say. That the organization citing statistics and studies isn’t a fake organization created by a company trying to tell you something. And that something, is often not just products, but also ideas (compassion) regarding social “justice.”  
People rarely have the time to investigate – and that’s exactly what these front organizations are counting on.  

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