rt. The use of PR campaigns that link messages with unconscious feelings in milliseconds has been perfected over the past ninety years. Based on the US American and nephew of Sigmund Freud, Edward Bernays1, the PR industry has developed increasingly sophisticated methods of influencing with the help of social sciences. It has become an everyday business to influence an addressee to certain behaviors far away from rational considerations. For example, positive feelings are awakened, but aversions can also be generated. Products are linked to these emotions. Sales figures show success: “Who bought another hair dryer even though he still has one at home?”
These techniques are used not only in the consumer sector, but also in the political and pre-political area PR agencies are hired.2 Not only products are sold, but also attitudes or political preferences. Think of the short and networked presence of that young, dynamic and sympathetic troop Operation Libero, who told us that it was good for others to determine our very own concerns.
Or think of the meteoric rise of the so-called movement En Marche by the youthful newcomer Emmanuel Macron. He surrounded himself with the aura that anything would be possible with him. A PR campaign had succeeded in selling him as a savior, although his track record was not elaborate and his background was modest and his program promised nothing new. His campaign was actively supported by financial circles on the other side of the Atlantic,3 as it often is the case.
After only a few months, the disillusionment began. Reality returned to France. As if after an intoxication, one rubbed one’s eyes in amazement. How could that happen? Once again it had been hoped that everything would change with the next president, chancellor, king, member of parliament, senator, and so on. At least a bit. Perhaps. As so often …
While you can bring back or exchange the hair dryer, which you have admired so much in the advertisement and acquired in a touch of buying frenzy, the damage caused in politics may be immense. A type of product testing or liability, the right to return or exchange could perhaps be desirable and considerable in politics as well.
It is even better to postpone your own decision to buy the hair dryer for a short time, to think it over again or discuss it with your spouse. Maybe buying a reading lamp would be more sensible after all? •
1 compare Bernays, Edward. Propaganda. Die Kunst der Public Relations. Berlin 2013 (Erstausgabe USA 1928)
2 compare Becker, Jörg. Krieg an der Propagandafront: Wie PR-Agenturen und Medien die Öffentlichkeit entmündigen, in: Mies, Ullrich; Wernicke, Jens. Fassadendemokratie und tiefer Staat. Auf dem Weg in ein autoritäres Zeitalter. Wien 2017
3 compare. Meyssan, Thierry. “Who does Emmanuel Macron owe?”, in: Current Concerns Nr. 29/30 from 7 January 2019 [https://www.zeit-fragen.ch/en/editions/2018/n-2930-27-decembre-2018/envers-qui-emmanuel-macron-est-il-debiteur.html]
If you want to prevent the setting of cookies (for example, Google Analytics), you can set this up by using this browser add-on.