Marketeers Beware, Your Freudian Slip is Showing…

Uncategorized Posted Apr 22, 2005 by metropolis

Something on the lighter side for a sunny spring Friday, from VP Kevin Kosh…

Hi, my name is Kevin. Long time NPR listener, first time caller. Yes, I find stories on NPR on a daily basis that move, tickle or infuriate me, but I tend to leave those emotions in the car.

But today, one story struck close to home … it was called “The Birth of PR,” and as that is what I purport to do for a living, I felt compelled to offer comment, or at least observation.

The story is one of a series highlighting the scientific breakthroughs of 1905. It was the year Freud published Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, and Albert Einstein published most of his important papers, including the theory of relativity. And, more importantly to my world, Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, used Uncle Siggy’s ideas to help convince the public, among other things, that bacon and eggs composed the true all-American breakfast. If you question the effectiveness of playing to the subconscious desires at some level in a “meat and potatoes” PR/marketing program, let me offer a quote from a great mind of our time, Homer Simpson, “Mmmm … Bacon.”

In true NPR form — and it’s why I respect them so — it passes no judgment either way, so for anyone interested in listening to the story of the dirty secrets behind how the PR world spins (pun intended) you’re probably not going to come away with the ultimate code crack or formula for PR (since in PR, everything is “relative”…oh I’m full of ’em this morning). However, it does do a great job of framing, though more from a general marketing than necessarily PR-specific perspective, the logic — or lack thereof — and calculations in marketing communications that walk the fine line between id and ego, between PR and propaganda. And in one example, the extreme case of the latter.

All in all, I recommend this piece by as an intriguing, albeit brief, look into the historical context of public relations. It’s something to get you thinking about how you parse the stories you read, see and hear.