Title: Thank You for Smoking
Adapted from the Novel written by Christopher Buckley
Genre: Satiric comedy
Year of Release: 2006.
Production Company: Twentieth Century Fox
Producer: David O Sacks
Reviewer: Olutayo Irantiola
The role of a Strategic Communicator cum Lobbyist is very diverse, in fact, there are no two days in the life of a communicator that is the same and this is depicted in the movie, “Thank You for Smoking”. Interestingly, a single stick of cigarette was not use in the entire flick. Of a truth, this movie would not interest people who work within the tobacco industry but it has passed a message to the world.
The campaigns which were typified in the movie are for and against the use of cigarettes. The Campaign of Naylor was $50 million Anti-Teen Smoking Campaign being sponsored by ATS while Senator Finistirre believed that Tobacco is winning the war against our children, cartoon and symbols and this was what he wanted to challenge. He wants skull and bones on the cigarette packs so that the image would graphically depict poison to the consumer.
The struggle was so vehement that everyone was finding various ways of protecting their interest. There are certain tactics which Nick Naylor used which makes him juggle various roles together within the public relations space.
Naylor, the Spokesperson for the academy, was involved in various speaking opportunities. He appeared on Joan Lunden show and he really demonstrated that he truly talks for a living. He described himself as such, “Most importantly, we’ve got spin control. That’s where I come in. I get paid to talk.” He could convince and convict. He was not scared of physical engagements like many in-house professionals of today, who cannot stand to defend their brand.
What stood Naylor out as a specialist, when BR, his Boss, was complaining about the sales of cigarette, Naylor stood up to tell the whole meeting about his research on the sales of cigarette sticks over the years. His executive summary goes thus, “1910- US Produces 10 billion cigarettes a year, by 1930, 123 billion cigarettes. What happened in between this period was World War, Dieting and Movies”. He mentioned that the big thing that could be done in order to increase the sales of cigarette was for Hollywood to send out the message, “smoking is cool.”
Sequel to this, he approached Jeff Megall, a movie producer and the idea grew bigger and better. Megall suggested that the Naylor should “think of designing a cigarette that would be released simultaneously with the movie”. This part of the movie showed that successful brands learn subtle ways of getting their products into people’s life. There are various strategic thrust to communications.
This idea made his Boss, which he described as the last legend of tobacco, request for a meeting and Naylor was told to report directly to the big Boss. This reflects that strategic communication would not just gain the applause of external stakeholders but it could attract the top echelon of an organization and he can perform his advisory role to his best. He was given the opportunity of riding in the boss’ private jet called Tobacco One! This authenticates the statement of the boss, “Tobacco takes care of its own!”
How vast would a Professional be without engaging other professional associates? The Merchant of Death or MOD Squad are professional colleagues of Mr Naylor, firearm lobbyist, Bobby Jay Bliss and alcohol lobbyist, Polly Bailey. They discussed happenings in their various industries and they robbed minds together. In their playful chat, they mentioned, “If you must drink and drive, suck charcoal.” Their primary focus was to ensure that their consumers were protected.
Naylor is a man of the fields, during one of his trips in the movies, he advised viewers to know their clients, if he successfully introduces tobacco to a youngster, and it pays for his trip. For any PR Specialist who wants to get his product out at all times, he must be able to do the elevated pitch with ease, he must be able to find facts on the streets and be a proud brand ambassador of the brand. A media shy person would be of great disservice to a brand.
Brand Ambassadorship and its hoax was typified in the flick also. The Ex-Marlboro man, who was on all the posters of Marlboro had come down with Lung Cancer and he was aiming to become an advocate against smoking but he was ‘silenced’ by being given wads of dollars. The hoax of it all was that he never tasted Marlboro but Kool. Who is on the losing end, the brand, of course?
A Celebrity Victim Tour on All Sunday Talkshow was organized for Naylor after his kidnap where he was injured with nicotine patches and he almost passed on. They got public sympathy and used the media to their advantage. Reflects is that when the media feels concerned about your brand and her C-Suites Executives, do grant them an audience for it will be to your advantage.
A PR Specialist will find pride in befriending the media but when it gets erotic, the tendency is high that there would be a lot of risk to the person’s job. Naylor revealed all his secrets to Heather Holloway thinking it would all be ‘off records’ but it was used in writing an extensive article which negatively impacted the career of Naylor, he was fired because the organization had to do some damage control.
A PR Specialist needs the support of friends and families at times like this, the glamour that he had experienced over the years and the ridicule that came upon him with the publication of a single article made him depressed but his son encouraged him, he came out of it, granted another media interview that helped him to tell his own part of the story and it got Heather Holloway fired.
As a Lobbyist, he testified boldly before the Senate, his Boss, BR, who backstabbed him wanted him back because of his testimony before the senate but he turned down the job and this led to the dismantling of the Academy of Tobacco Studies and they paid $246 million dollar fine.
Eventually, Naylor who believed in himself said, there is a place for guys like me’, he founded the Naylor Strategic Relations and he became a Consultant to a telecommunications industry. He was being consulted based on the presumption that cellphone causes brain cancer. What does this sum up, every strategic communicator must be able to cross the two divides easily- In-House PR Consultant or an Agency Consultant.
This film is highly recommended for every PR Specialist, it goes beyond the campaign for and against. It speaks to the dynamic nature expected of a PR Specialist cum lobbyist.
Enjoy the thriller of the movie-