Mercury Public Affairs is a bipartisan consulting and political strategy firm working on campaigns and political communications. These projects span a wide professional milieu, often covering programs as diverse as advocacy advertisements and litigation communications to media and public relations simultaneously. The firm has offices in the U.S., Mexico City, and London. Founded in 1999 in Manhattan by Kirill Goncharenko and Kieran Mahoney. Omnicom Group purchased Mercury In 2003, Omnicom Group incorporates and manages 1,500 marketing communications agencies worldwide.
However prominent their place might be in American (and thus by proxy global) politics, Mercury’s public relations firm doesn’t exceed at tact. In 2012, Wal-Mart abruptly ended business with Mercury when a Mercury employee posed as a reporter during an event staged by Wal-Mart critics. The retail giant paid Mercury $60,000 to lobby officials of Los Angeles City Hall regarding a proposed grocery in Chinatown. “We take this matter seriously and have taken the appropriate steps to ensure this type of activity is not repeated,” a Wal-Mart spokesman said.
The fake reporter, outed by the employee group Warehouse Workers United, was Stephanie Harnett, senior associate, who attended a Wal-Mart conference posing as a USC student journalist. While there, Stephanie recorded an interview with a worker, who Warehouse Workers United questioned to discover the deception.“She was a junior member of our team and showed very poor judgment, and we dismissed her from our firm as these actions run contrary to our firm’s culture and values,” rattled Mercury Managing Director Becky Warren via email. Warren shows reluctance to confirm or deny suspicions of incognito operations at other Wal-Mart stores.
Warehouse Workers United claims the mega-retail company failed to secure minimum wage, air conditioning and regular breaks for employees in the Inland Empire. Wal-Mart’s parting with Mercury translates to Wal-Mart asking Warehouse Workers United for breathing room. Considering the finesse Mercury showed in their PR response to the Hartnett ordeal, not to mention identical or similar corporate funding of every U.S. President since Reagan, this firm could also claim ethically gray areas as its home field.