Week 5|Assignment 5|Kevin May

Kevin May

JRN 101 UX1


A great example today of corporations using “front organizations’ to subtly influence popular belief is the tobacco industry. Tobacco is a vast and powerful industry, still to this day. Regardless of the hazardous effects to a human’s health for inhaling the product they create. It has a debilitating effect on overall healthcare expenditure and ruins physical quality of life in exchange for addictive neurochemicals. We know this nowadays due to scientists and advocacy groups crying louder and railing harder than the tobacco lobby groups. However, that does not mean that “Big Tobacco’ will back down without a fight.

It is an easily detected conflict of interest if a company peddling a product endorses itself. When I talked to friends about the FIFA scandal and when it investigated itself for corruption, no one bought it. Big Tobacco is not a collection of stupid executives; these are Captains of Industry that must protect their market share. To do this they create front organizations that do their dirty work of advertising the brand in ways not destabilizing to the brand image. They also play this cat and mouse game of devil’s advocacy, red herrings, and begging the question. They do this not to win the argument, just to cast doubt on the efficacy of the opponent’s points.

It is quite successful, the Big Tobacco lobby groups and front organizations are insanely influential in protecting corporate profits. The funding may come from Big Tobacco, but the front organization must divorce all known ties to Big Tobacco.

Here is an excerpt from Ron Saldana, a lobbyist for the Tobacco Institute:

I’ve learned from experience that as soon as I’m identified as a representative of the Tobacco Institute, I lose all credibility. They just sneer us away…so I try to work behind the scenes whenever I can.

Obviously this is a shrewd attempt to protect profit and profit only. It does not matter if it is at the expense of the consumer, money is all that matters. This type of advertising is pervasive and insidious and has wormed its way into mass media. Their effect can be felt to a lesser extent today for items such as cigarettes and cigars. The newest battlefield for tobacco versus anti-tobacco is e-cigarettes and their rising popularity.

The crux of the argument is that Big Tobacco companies have created and perpetuated a myth that these products are safer than cigarettes. Whether that is true or not boils down to semantics and empirical evidence that is still being debated. This is a perfect ground for perception management to take hold by Big Tobacco. As this new craze continues to increase in popularity, be sure that front organizations and the parent companies will do their best to advertise its legitimacy both covertly and overtly.