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In the early 1900s The Committee on Public Information or "CPI" was a private company that served as the United States propaganda arm during the early 20th century.

The CPI's Division of Advertising produced posters and ads that depicted German atrocities that never happened, played up threats to American homes and families that were wildly exaggerated, and generally appealed to the fears and anxieties that lurked beneath the surface of public consciousness.

When the war broke out, a young Edward Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud, was hired to write propaganda for the CPI's Latin American section. Bernays, had previously worked as co editor of the Medical Review of Reviews and Dietetic and Hygienic Gazette, which took editorial positions in favor of showers and against corsets, and distributed free copies to thousands of physicians across the country, as well as promoting a play called "Damaged Goods" which dealt with effects of syphilis, an extremely taboo subject for its time.

His work with the CPI had convinced him that if you could sell war by appealing to images and symbols, then you could do the same thing to sell just about anything.

Bernays had concluded that "public opinion was fundamentally irrational, and irrationality was now the filter through which human nature could best be understood. Symbols, not facts, would be the primary tool of persuasion. Public opinion was to be manufactured and managed through communications strategies that aimed for the gut rather than the brain." After the war Bernays set up his own consulting business or what we know today as a P.R. firm (Bernays did not invent the concept of P.R. or P.R first firm, 1897 is the first use of the word by railroad companies although ironically Bernays waged a subversive campaign throughout his life to stylize himself as the creator of all things P.R., including the name)

One of Bernays earliest successes was a campaign for the American Tobacco Company. In the early 1900s it was taboo and in some places illegal for women to smoke. In order to increase sales among women Edward Bernays contacted psychoanalyst Abraham Brill to understand the societal perceptions that discouraged women from smoking. Brill told him that for feminists, cigarettes were like "torches of freedom" that symbolized their nonconformity and freedom from male oppression.
Bernays used this information to build a strategy. He contacted a female friend and asked her to find a group of women to march in the New York City Easter Day parade. He asked her to tell the press that a group of women's rights marchers would light "Torches of Freedom". The women were selected to be pretty but not "model like", and Bernays supposedly hired some of his own photographers to be in the crowd. The actual extent of the Easter Day parades influence on getting women to smoke more is disputed to this day because as mentioned above, Bernays would run parallel P.R. campaigns to convince the public he was the father of all advertising when in fact Bernays had quite a few talented and well established contemporaries and competition such as Ivy Lee.

Regardless shortly after Bernays proved himself a master manipulator when he the American Tobacoo company again a;preached him with the issue that women were shunning Lucky Strikes. Bernays theorized that the green packaging on Lucky Strikes was damaging sales as it clashed with color styles of the time but the American Tobacco company was reluctant to change the packaging. Bernays than decided to change American fashions perception of green.
He organized the "Green Ball" at the Waldorf Astoria and convinced leading designers into providing green gowns for the event. He convinced the Onondaga Silk Company to sponsor a Green Fashions Fall luncheonfor fashion editors and invited an art historian and a psychologist to expatiate on the significance of green. He organized a Color Fashion Bureau, which disseminated trends to the press, emphasizing the popularity of the color green.

Using green paper, he concocted a letter-writing campaign to interior decorators, art-industry groups, department stores and clubwomen describing the sudden "dominance" of green. A talk was given by the head of the Hunter College art department, titled “Green in the Work of Great Artists", and he persuaded the Reinhardt Galleries to hold a "Green Exhibition" of paintings. By September, the month before the ball was to be held, Vogue’s cover sported a woman in a smart green dress. In 6 months time green had become the new black.

Bernays would go on to successfully convince Americans bacon, eggs, or an overall heavy breakfast were American. For men to wear wrist watches and the use of disposal cups, as well as convincing the American people of toppling the government of Guatemala for his client United Fruit Company, who we know today in the grocery store as "Chiquita".

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