I heard a commercial on the radio today that made me think about spin. No,  I’m not talking about the magazine, or the setting on your washer, but the kind used for public relations.

One of the best movies I’ve seen on spin is Thank You For Smoking. If you haven’t see it, or read the book, it’s fantastic. In short, it’s about a guy who works as a spin doctor for Big Tobacco, and how he’s trying to build a better relationship with his son, while going up against a senator who’s deeply against cigarettes.

Here’s one of my favorite examples of how he spins things in his favor.

The next line in the movie is fantastic, and I wish they’d included it. Senator Finisterre says “The great state of Vermont will not apologize for its cheese.”

But in the end, it’s a spin of sorts. You don’t have to win, you just have to make the other person look wrong. Here’s another scene from the movie.

I find spin fascinating. It’s everywhere, Bill Clinton saying he didn’t have sexual relations with that woman,  the IRS saying mistakes were made when they’re talking about the scandal of targeting conservative groups, and anyone who goes “If I have offended you, I apologize.”

Spin can come in other forms though, and that’s actually what I’m going for. Kaiser Permanente is doing radio ads in Portland. And while I can’t find a clip of exact ad, I did manage to find a pdf of Kaiser’s website that had the partial text of the radio ad, so here it is.

At Kaiser Permanente, out hiring process is so selective typically only one in ten doctors who apply make the cut. Which means you get great doctors to choose from.


That ad makes it sound awesome, doesn’t it? They’re only going to hire 10% of the doctors, ensuring you get the best medical care possible.

Except, when you think about it, is it truly that great? That means for every position open, only 10 people apply. Now, if that’s for something specialized, like a specific sort of cancer doctor, then I see how that could be a big deal.

But a general practitioner? Only 10 doctors apply for that position? I know that there aren’t a huge number of doctors looking for work out there, and even fresh, new doctors often have a specific area of expertise, but you’d think there would be more.

I have never been to a Kaiser facility, so I don’t know how good their medical care is. I know that most people I’ve talked to who have been don’t speak highly of it, but I don’t have any first hand experience with them.

I do however, think it’s interesting that Kaiser employs spin of it’s own kind to brighten it’s image.

Have any examples of spin you’d like to share?


12 thoughts on “Spin

  1. Hopefully they were bringing it down to the lowest denominator ratio, instead of saying “only 10 in 100” or “100 in 1000” or something. Hopefully?

    I never knew that Thank You For Smoking was also a book. I loved the movie and seeing how they spun things was frightening, but made for such a great movie. I’ll have to check out the book though.

  2. I really enjoyed your post on “spin”!
    Don’t parents often employ spin to help thier children acclimate to an idea…”you’re going to love camp”…you’ll get to ride horses, be with boys and girls your own age, have smores around the campfire…nevermind the child has never slept away from home, is afraid of things in the lake, is embarrased they may sleep walk etc.
    As you pointed out, spin is used all over and by everyone from the presidency to large companies.
    I think it can be useful but it is sad when we see a president [President Clinton]enploy such tactics to baffle us with um-mmm, “spin”.
    Carol aka myartistry swap-bot Gain exposure to your blog 3

  3. I really liked Thank Your For Smoking, the film. I didn’t even know there was a book! But it shows a lot about the way different lobbies work… As for the ad, I think they were just trying to say that only 10% of the applicants actually get a job. Which means that a lot of doctors apply, but very few of them actually get the job. It doesn’t say anything about their quality though…

    Tanja (tanchyka on swapbot)

  4. You know every time I saw that title I read it as “Thank you for not smoking” lol
    -Zefaniya (Follow me #14)

  5. What a great post about spin. I think that is something that a lot of people forget about these days..we are just so used to the way the big advertising machines keep on moving.

    Follow me #14

    ~Pashanista Swapbot

  6. I just want to say… LOVE AARON ECKHART!!! I seen bits and pieces of this movie. Now I might have to watch the whole thing. 🙂

  7. So So So TRUE!! Love it! I so put a spin on too much stuff! I never realized it till I read this, lol! Awesome blog, so glad I had you in the swap. Have a wonderful day, Dawn Gallop stampmom9 Follow me #14

  8. Thank You for Smoking is a great movie- haven’t read the book though. I do love the cigarettes versus cheese argument!!
    ~davisbabe from Swap-Bot

  9. Great post on spin! Haven’t really thought about it until now. And about the movie… I have seen parts of it and now I want to watch the whole movie!

  10. I’ve never seen Thank You For Smoking but I do like Aaron Eckhardt. I might have to see if I can find this to watch.

    Swap-bot Follow me #14

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