Friday, November 30, 2012
A judge has ordered tobacco companies to advertise that they lied about the dangers of smoking. If the companies bow and do not appeal the court's order, it will be an historic occasion in communications. Only rarely have judges stepped in to force companies to admit they have not told the truth. From a PR perspective, there is no danger to tobacco companies for having to do this. They are pariahs already in the public's estimation. Advertising would be one more nail in a finished coffin. From a larger perspective, however, it is a warning to organizations to be honest. Despite inducements to stick with facts, human nature bends to deception time and again. The internet has escalated the opportunity for embarrassment, but that won't prevent companies and individuals from skating on and over the edge. Perhaps judges should act more often.