Supporters of the Center for Media & Democracy have just been mailed the third quarter 2001 issue of PR Watch. It examines the strategies employed by corporations such as Philip Morris and BP/Amoco, and their PR firms such as Burson-Marsteller, to defeat environmental activism through partnerships and co-optation. Articles include "Keep America Beautiful: Grassroots Non-Profit or Tobacco Front Group?" by Walter Lamb; "Corporations 'Get Engaged' to the Environmental Movement" by Andy Rowell; and, "Endangered Wildlife Friends Are Here" by John Stauber.
Procter & Gamble admitted that a company working on its behalf went through the garbage of rival company Unilever in an attempt to find out more about its hair-care business. According to the Financial Times, the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals in Alexandria, Virginia, however, wrinkles its nose at the mention of rifling through a competitor's rubbish in search of corporate secrets. "It's not professional," says Bill Weber, executive director of the society, which represents 6,000 corporate intelligence gatherers in 45 countries.
The American Medical Association is mounting a $1 million campaign to educate doctors about its ethics guidelines against accepting gifts from drug companies -- with most of the funding for the effort coming from drug companies.
The UK's Labour Party is offering "branding opportunities" to corporations during its annual meeting set for the end of September. A Party brochure obtained by the Guardian offers a price list for placement of corporate logos and messages to reach the conference's "captive audience". Up for sale were spots on ambulance service, relaxation zone, phone service, video screens, recycling bins, and gala dinner flower arrangements. McDonalds ponied up
Earlier this year, Utah State Attorney General Mark Shurtleff received two letters from dead people requesting that the state go easy on Microsoft. As it turns out, the letters are part of the computer giant's nation-wide astroturf campaign, targeting the offices of 18 attorneys general who have joined the Justice Department's antitrust lawsuit. The Los Angeles Times reports that in recent weeks, Microsoft has been refining its letter writing strategy so that no two letters are identical. The giveaway, however, is in the phrasing.
A year ago we reported on the "No More Scares" campaign (www.nomorescares.org), an industry front group aimed at smearing environmental and health activists as "fearmongers." Now it appears that No More Scares has quietly decommissioned itself, and links to its website no longer work. In Trust Us, We're Experts we noted that "corporate-funded front groups ... are sometimes fly-by-night organizations.
Yesterday McDonald's announced it would be "providing more information about the specific source of the natural flavoring" it uses. However, today McDonald's refused to provide a spokesperson to CNN for an interview. Yesterday's announcement came after vegetarians filed lawsuits and some Hindus smashed windows upon discovering that McDonald's french fries cooked in oil were also cooked in meat flavorings.
On June 14, the U.S. Senate passed the Student Privacy Protection Act, which would require parental consent before a corporation or person could extract personal information from a child in school for commercial purposes. However, the bill faces strong opposition from the anti-privacy lobby, advertisers, some publishers and Primedia Inc., which owns Channel One.
Remember the PR hype and spin about how socially responsible and proactive 3M corporation was in pulling Scotchgard from the market last year? Well, check this out: "New analyses of 3M's own data, some decades old, reveals that the company knew far more, far earlier, about potential health problems from Scotchgard exposure. The (Scotchgard) story is likely to emerge as one of the apocryphal examples of 20th century experimentation with widespread chemical exposures without adequate testing."
The Bush administration's recently-announced plan to force General Electric to pay for a $460 million cleanup of the Hudson River is designed to battle the popular impression that his White House, particularly on environmental issues, is operating under corporate sponsorship.