Monday, May 15, 2006

Thank You for Smoking, Machiavelli

If you are a marketing or PR professional and you have not seen “Thank You for Smoking (, then buy your tickets ASAP. This movie is to marketing what Glenngary Glen Ross is to sales professionals, minus the pan-ultimate Alec Baldwin scene.

Really, Smoking has many tips, strategies and tactics to glean from its script, and I definitely plan on buying it on DVD. I loved the chocolate versus vanilla ice cream scene, which reminded me of one of my clients’ activities, as well as the way I view competing with some agencies out there.

What the movie did not necessarily take on was the ethical use of PR and marketing powers. Promoting tobacco, one of the big ugly three (the others being alcohol and firearms), is written off as a way to pay the mortgage. This seems like an easy way out of the moral dilemma caused by representing the big three members, and even some other companies like Wal-Mart, McDonalds, Exxon-Mobile (and other big oil cos) or Haliburton. As none of them are pounding down my door throwing money at me, this is only a hypothetical issue, but I’d still have to say that my answer would be no thank you.

I ran into a member of the old guard last week, someone who seemed resistant to the launch of my new agency. It reminded me of an old Machiavelli ( quote that someone recently shared with me:

There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success nor dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order, this lukewarmness arising partly from fear of their adversaries, who have the laws in their favor, and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who does not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it.”

Though I am not the biggest fan of Machiavellian pursuits, this quote seems very true to me. Whether it’s my company or a product that a client is launching, the market is always skeptical of “newness” until credibility and results are achieved. That’s why success requires good, strong products, and courage to weather the initial launch of such efforts.

In the end, the marketplace is always the great equalizer of such debates. Given what I’ve seen already in the three weeks since I launched (especially after building my first pipeline report on Saturday), things look very positive indeed.

The results to date on my three accounts are strong, so fulfillment is exceeding promise. Also consider that I have a fourth very small project this week. The key is focusing on helping these people meet their business objectives, and the rest will take care of itself.

As Mondays are tough going for many folks, I’ve decided to make a regular Monday morning blog feature of a positive, departing thought. So here is the first one, a Shakespeare quote (

"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em."

--From Twelfth Night (II, v, 156-159)


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