Burson-Marsteller: A PR Star in the Middle East

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Burson-Marsteller is a premier public relations firm with an impressive global reach – including in the Middle East, where the company’s most notable addition to their portfolio this year brought in the Prime Minister of Turkey. The Prime Minister hopes to use their help improving his image overseas.

The firm boasts a steady foothold in the Americas, Europe and Africa. Its subsidiary, ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller established a strong reputation in the Middle East. Burson-Marsteller mainly represents corporations and organisations influencing public policy.


Burson-Marsteller first entered the Middle Eastern market through Saudi Arabia in the 1970s. There, it worked with a longstanding client, Saudi Arabia Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC). The company’s presence in the Middle East grew after this partnership. In fact, one of the company’s most notable projects occurred in the Middle East. In 1993, Egypt experienced terrorist attacks threatening the viability of the tourism industry. The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism acted quickly. It employed the firm to manage the crisis and encourage tourists to visit. The campaign focused on highlighting recent archaeological discoveries in the country. It was a success.

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In 2001, terrorist attacks created panic and grief on American soil. Investigations later found 15 of the 19 attackers came from Saudi Arabia. They also revealed the involvement of Saudi politicians with Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist ring. The media criticized the country for their links to the attack. These criticisms made the government desperate to create a new image. It scrambled to rebuild a civil relationship with the U.S. government and its people. They hired Burson-Marsteller to assist other PR companies with managing the crisis.

The government paid the firm $2.5 million to create and place newspaper ads. These ads included condolences for the terrorist attack and ran in about 20 newspapers for three days. They repaired some of the damage by including quotes from the U.S. President. The quotes praised Saudi Arabia for their full cooperation in the war against terror showing a friendly relationship between the two nations.

By 2008, the firm’s Middle Eastern projects became so profitable it created ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller. This subsidiary dealt specifically with the Middle Eastern Market. This strategic decision made the company more relatable to Middle Eastern clientele and in turn allowed the company to expand their already prestigious portfolio. The subsidiary handles public relations projects and crisis management. Conducting in-depth research on issues in the region and creating an image of commitment to understanding the people and their culture. ASDA’A B-M head office in Dubai manages 11 other offices in the Middle East.

Today, Burson-Marsteller continues enjoying success in the Middle East. In 2008, the Holmes Report named the firm ‘Consultancy of the Year.’ That Holmes Report covered the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. In 2015, the SABRE Awards in London named the firm ‘Middle East Consultancy of the Year 2015’.

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