#1: After the War,
I Could Really Use A Cigarette

Edward Bernays, often hailed as the "Father of Public Relations," was a master propagandist, not a pioneer of PR. His work during WWI exposed him to the potency of propaganda, inspiring him to apply its techniques to private industry. His most notable achievement was encouraging women to smoke publicly, linking it to feminism through the "Torches of Freedom" campaign. Bernays' legacy lies in his application of Freudian psychoanalysis to create associations between products and existing desires to influence public opinion, shaping the advertising industry as we know it today. This…is propaganda.

#2: the revolution will not be televised, it will be sold
The transformative impact of the 1960s counterculture on American society was driven by the post-WWII population explosion known as the baby boomer generation. As violence marred the social movements of the ‘60s, the emergence of the Human Potential Movement replaced the need for collective action with self-expression and radical individualism. Propaganda followed suit with lifestyle branding, creating associations between products and individual values. By blurring the line between self and brand identity, hippies were converted into the largest demographic of consumers in history. This…is propaganda.

#3: The Sound of One Hand Clapping

In our fast-paced society, people rely on symbols to guide their decisions. This makes propaganda a powerful force, as it streamlines information processing. Brands exploit our need for these cognitive shortcuts by virtue signaling to project supposed shared values, causing consumerism to shift from an act of self-expression to one of tribalism. We discuss cognitive dissonance and societal polarization resulting from the culture war, featuring brands like Disney, Tesla, Budweiser, Dove, Nike, Apple, and more. This…is propaganda.