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10 Most Deceptive PR Campaigns in History


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Women's Right to Smoke Is Linked With Liberation
Bernays also organized a PR stunt equating ladies smoking with women's rights. Cigarette sales among women took off. © Underwood & Underwood/Corbis
Bernays also organized a PR stunt equating ladies smoking with women's rights. Cigarette sales among women took off. © Underwood & Underwood/Corbis

Edward Bernays created several brilliant-but-deceptive campaigns during his long lifetime. No wonder he's called the "father of public relations." He undertook another notable project at the behest of the American Tobacco Company. Shortly after World War I concluded, the tobacco group was jonesing to snag a huge part of the market it was missing: women [source: Frevele]. Back then, it was considered improper for women to smoke in public. This limited the American Tobacco Company to courting only half of the American public.

Enter Bernays. The women's suffrage movement was in full swing, and many females were anxious to enjoy more of the same rights as men. Bernays' plan, launched in 1929, involved gathering together a group of society women at New York's popular (and visible) Easter Sunday Parade. With cameras rolling and photogs snapping, the women proudly lit up all at once. By linking women's lib with the ability to freely smoke in public, innumerable females jumped on board and took up the new habit. Bernays —and the American Tobacco Company – notched a win. Women, of course, ended up the losers, when cancer, emphysema and a host of other smoking-related illnesses struck many of them, in the same way men were afflicted [source: Frevele].


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