Up until 1929, smoking for women was considered immoral. Psychoanalysts equated the cigarette to the penis and male dominance. Cigarette barons though were desperate to have women as a new market. They hired press agent turned father of PR Edward Bernays who recognised if he could find an irrational/subconscious emotion that played to women’s desires, he could reach them en masse.

Bernays hired debutantes to conceal cigarettes on the Easter Sunday Parade in New York (1929) and on his cue, they would light up. He informed the press and ensued the photos which had that studium (taken well to provide his impact) gained maximum coverage. His message to the press was women were smoking torches of freedom. Freedom and liberty were a general, as well as women’s movement post-war.Cigarette sales soared.

Press-Pr-Marketing often operate as a single entity in commercial enterprises. They’re in the business of selling the explicit and subconscious e.g fears, desires. A headline and photo that works unconsciously (at first) on our irrational fears/desires is what’s needed to drive this human construct we call ‘news’. In the instagram age, paradoxically and often to us innocuously, our images and words are continuously being scrubbed for how they might provide secondary-to-primary meaning. Commerce eh! Enjoyed reading your article Parker.

Read what Bernays did to Bacon and the standard breakfast here

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Top Writer & Creative Technologist, Int. Award Winner. Cinemajournalist. Cardiff Uni @jomec. PhD (Dublin). Visiting Prof UBC, Ex BBC/C4News. Apple profiled.

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