Thank You for Smoking is a satirical comedy that depicts the life of Nick Naylor, chief spokesperson and lobbyist of Big Tobacco. Nick Naylor speaks on behalf of cigarettes and is very talented at doing just that – speaking and spinning arguments to defend the cigarette industry. The movie paints a vivid picture of the role of public relations for big corporations – damage control, acquirement of new customers and corporate social responsibility are some of the key phrases to keep in mind when looking at the movie at hand from a public relations perspective.
Even though one would assume ethics is an important part of an effective public relations plan, this movie had me thinking otherwise. It describes the process of generating effective publicity as a series of well-tailored arguments that aren’t necessarily even relevant to the matter at hand, but rather meant to shift the focus off of the main concerns. A good example of this is the scene where Nick has the „ice cream talk“ with his son (which teaches the boy to sidestep truth in order to win an argument). Also, within his Senate appearance, he manages to escape without even discussing any of the concerns in real depth.
Big Tobacco had also implemented a Corporate Social Responsibility plan in the form of a $50 million dollar anti-smoking campaign aimed at teenagers. Even though at first glance, this campaign might seem as a way to give back to and serve the best interest of the community, in reality it was just a means of avoiding bad publicity. What this shows is that in reality , the motives behind the public relations plans are seldom what they appear to be. At the end of the day, what really matters is how the corporate affairs appear to be, not what they actually are. CSR plans should be a result of genuine care, rather than bribes to divert attention from bad press.
Fortunately though, not all CSR plans are motivated by the sheer will to earn...