Did Freud Bring Down GM?

This is Part 1 of a 4 part BBC doc, The Century of the Self, the story of Edward Bernays, Freud’s nephew and father of PR who applied his uncle’s theories to managing the masses.

The thread title might seem at first disingenuous but i think if you view all 4 parts (about an hour each) you’ll agree that it really does apply to the auto industry and to our idea of a “free market economy” in general, not to mention our concept of democracy. Goebbels loved Bernays.

I don’t know how widely this has been viewed and if I’m just late for dinner, let me know. I think it’s a must-see for anyone wanting to understand the mess we’re in today.

You gotta love his “torches of freedom” bit about ten minutes into Part 1.

All around better link. Better quality and makes all four parts easily available.

Welcome to the Dope. Here, instead of offering a link to four hours (!!!) of video, it’s considered polite to at the very least sum up what it is that you’re talking about.

Thanks and pardon my lack of civility. There is so much presented in the doc I hardly knew where to begin. A most telling point is in a quote from the Wickipedia overview of TCOTC.

TCOTC is in part a history of how planned obsolescence (pertinent to GM’s troubles) was brought about by Bernays and those who followed him. Also covered are the political implications of equating consumer choice and democracy in the public mind.

Here are a couple of examples of his work.

Back in the teens, women smoking in public was frowned upon due to a male imposed taboo. The tobacco manufacturers hired Bernays to open up the lost market … to break the taboo. He did it by persuading a group of wealthy debutantes to join the NYC Easter Parade, a big event, well covered by the press. The gals secreted cigarettes on themselves and at Bernays’ signal (to an alerted press corp) all lit up what Bernays described as “torches of freedom”. The story got global press and the rest is history. Actually starts at 10:30 in Part 1.

In the '50’s, instant cake mixes appeared on the market. They were acknowledged to be convenient but sales were small. In early focus groups it was determined that homemakers felt guilty about using them because they were so easy. The solution? Require that they add an egg. Sales soared.

For another hit on TCOTC, here is a review in Entertainment Weekly.

Hope this is enough to get that popcorn poppin’.

Thanks again for your post.