Power pictures: Thank You for Smoking, Wag the Dog among PR pros' favorites

The films are a reminder of the power of the PR profession to do good or cause harm, execs said in the 2017 Global Power Book questionnaire.

Thank You for Smoking and Wag the Dog, two films that hold a mirror up to the PR industry at its best and worst, are favorites among comms execs.

Thank You for Smoking, a satirical film, follows Big Tobacco’s chief spokesperson as he attempts to spin away the dangers of smoking. The movie, which stars Aaron Eckhart as Nick Naylor, kept coming up again and again as a favorite in the 2017 Global Power Book questionnaire.

Although it was released in 2006, the film stands as a reminder of the power of the PR profession to do good or cause harm, noted Axis Capital chief communications officer Joe Cohen.

"[It reminds us of] the need for comms pros to create our own ethical codes and strive to maintain them," said Cohen.

In an era of fake news and an increasing disregard for truth and transparency in politics and business, Thank You for Smoking is also a frightening example of life imitating art, added Peppercomm president Ted Birkhahn.

The movie also appreciates how fragile all businesses are and the power that social media has over them, said Debra Forman, president of Ketchum Digital.

Corey duBrowa, Salesforce’s chief communications officer, noted that he uses two snippets from the movie when he speaks about the PR profession anywhere in the world.

Wag the Dog, a 20-year-old black comedy, also stands the test of time, say PR pros. It stars a political spin doctor who joins forces with a Hollywood producer to cover up a presidential sex scandal by constructing a fake war with Albania.

Nelson Fernandez, chair of North America at APCO Worldwide, called the movie "smart and prophetic," adding, "the past is prologue."

"Wag the Dog is a brilliant black comedy on the uses and abuses of public relations," added Alex Aiken, executive director of government comms, U.K., HM Government.

The other nominees: Jerry Maguire, The Queen, The Candidate, and All the President’s Men.

See the full 2017 Global Power Book here.

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