Happenings at Bell Pottinger, Alison Brod, Mercury and Walker Sands
Bell Pottinger Discovered in Deal with Pentagon to Make Fake Terrorist Videos
Between 2007 and 2011, documents show Bell Pottinger was paid $540 million by the Pentagon, securing an additional contract with the government defense and military complex in 2006 for $120 million. These funds were paid to the U.K. firm since U.S. law prohibits propaganda from the government being used on the U.S. people. Martin Wells, a former BP employee, broke the story to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism recently.
Wells was hired as a video editor and found himself in Baghdad two days later editing content at Camp Victory. While there, he was part of creating television ads showing Al-Qaeda in a negative light as well as content that appeared to come from “Arabic TV.” The Pentagon confirmed that BP worked with them on the Information Operations Task Force (IOTF), but says all the content was “truthful.” BP also worked on the Joint Psychological Operations Task Force. They also reported to the National Security Council and the CIA for similar tasks.
New Name for Alison Brod PR
According to a recent snippet in the New York Post, Alison Brod has changed its company name to ABMC – Alison Brod Marketing and Communications. The ABMC Instagram account posted a copy of the Post’s statement on September 29th. Though they’ve kept the same alisonbrodpr website, it appears to be under construction currently, providing links to their Instagram and Twitter feeds, as well as their contact information. They have transitioned their Instagram account to show their new logo, but the Twitter link doesn’t work. Hope they manage to get things up and running quickly. It looks like most of their comments come from AlisonBrodMC, so the big change is really transitioning “PR” to “MC.”
Mercury No Longer the AOR for the Success Academy
The Success Academy and their network of charter schools just parted ways with Mercury PR after about six months. Success has worked with several New York PR firms during recent years, including SKDKnickerbocker and Sloane & Company. In between the times Success had agencies working for them, they relied on an internal PR team, just as they will do now.
Success’ Executive VP for public affairs, Ann Powell, indicated this is a routine move for their firm, saying: “Success often hires consultants when we are looking at ways to improve academic programs like math or writing. In the same way, it was useful to have Mercury’s external perspective.”
Walker Sands Released New Report on College Students View of Consulting Jobs
Walker Sands Communications’ new study, Where They’re Going, They Don’t Want Roadmaps: Gauging College Students’ Perceptions of Consulting Careers, comes from a survey of U.S. college students regarding what they think of the consulting industry’s employers and careers. Recommendations for consulting firms by the study include educating students about the jobs available, using a variety of recruiting tactics, and introducing better value options including benefits and salaries.
Many of the college students who believe they know what consulting firms do received their knowledge from television programs. Walker Sands’ partner and VP of professional services Will Kruisbrink said: “Left unaddressed, what is an image issue today could become a talent shortage tomorrow. Our research shows college students’ perceptions of what it means to be in the consulting industry are limited, if not completely inaccurate.”
ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Nabs Visa Account in Middle East Region
Visa put out an RFP recently for PR representation in the Middle East and North Africa. ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller won the bid against such firms as BPG Cohn & Wolfe (Visa’s previous agency), MSLGroup, APCO, Impact Porter Novelli, Four Communications, and Brunswick – although other than BPG C&W, the other firms listed are presumed to have answered the request for proposals.
ASDA’A is located in Dubai, with another office in Riyadh, and they recently won the Grand Stevie at the International Business Awards. ASDA’A’s CEO and founder, Sunil John, said: “This is an important account win for us, demonstrating the depth and breadth of our reach through MENA, and the excellent reputation of our finance practice.”