Public Relations

DCI Group's Stealth Campaign Torpedoed Freddie Mac Reform

Pete Yost reports that "Freddie Mac secretly paid a Republican consulting firm $2 million to kill legislation that would have regulated and trimmed the mortgage finance giant and its sister company, Fannie Mae, three years before the government took control to prevent their collapse.


And Now, for the PR Bailout

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission "has bolstered its PR staff after the agency and its chair Christopher Cox have been criticized" over the current financial crisis, reports O'Dwyer's. Riding to the SEC's assistance are Erik Hotmire and Andrew Weinstein.


PR Consultant Gave Palin a Boost into the National Spotlight

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's meteoric rise to prominence on the national political scene after only 21 months in office came about with the help of a media relations and marketing consulting firm hired to draw national attention to the state's proposed natural gas pipeline project.


FDA Tries to Pay Qorvis $300K Under the Table

After the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was "pummeled by Congress for poor inspections of tainted vegetables, drugs and other products," the agency wanted public relations help. First, it hired Mildred Cooper as "a temporary FDA consultant ... on a two-year contract to advise FDA Commissioner Andrew C.


Hill & Knowlton Engages "Influencers" for the IMF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has retained the major public relations firm Hill & Knowlton for one year, to boost the international financial institution's "global outreach." H&K's press release quotes CEO Paul Taaffe as saying, "The IMF plays a crucial role around the world working to stabilize financial markets.


A Veneer of Health

The Burson-Marsteller PR firm did pro bono communications and media relations support for America's Health Care at Risk: Finding a Cure, which is billed as "a bi-partisan conference bringing together major stakeholders in the health care debate for a high-level dialogue aimed at generating real and lasting solutions." While organizers of the conference were thrilled to have the free help, they may have been wise to check on B-M's health credentials.


Stealth Marketers Gone Wild: Will the FCC Act?

One of my favorite critiques of our ad-saturated modern world is in "Infinite Jest," the epic novel by recently-departed author and essayist David Foster Wallace. In the novel's not-too-distant future, time itself has become a corporate marketing opportunity. There's the Year of the Trial-Size Dove Bar and the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment. That's not to mention the Year of the Yushityu 2007 Mimetic-Resolution-Cartridge-View-Motherboard-Easy-To-Install-Upgrade For Infernatron/InterLace TP Systems For Home, Office, Or Mobile, which is often abbreviated.

Image from a Masterfoods video news releaseThe novel's system of Subsidized Time is hilarious ... and you can almost imagine it really happening. At least corporate-sponsored years wouldn't present the disclosure problems of today's stealth ads -- marketing messages that masquerade as entertainment or news content.

The Center for Media and Democracy believes that all advertising should be as clearly announced as the Year of the Trial-Size Dove Bar. That's why we just filed a comment with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC is debating how its sponsorship identification rules apply to product placement, product integration and other types of "embedded advertising" relayed over television or radio stations.

In 2003, Commercial Alert urged the FCC to address product placement disclosure. "Advertisers can puff and tout, and use all the many tricks of their trade," the watchdog group wrote (pdf). "But they must not pretend that their ads are something else."

Especially, we would add, when that "something else" is news programming.

PickensPlan Pushed by Patton Boggs

In July, oil industry figure T. Boone Pickens launched the PickensPlan to promote "energy independence" from "foreign oil" for the United States. In the plan, Pickens promotes the use of wind power to generate 20 percent of U.S. electricity, and natural gas and biofuels for transportation. Pickens now has business interests from funds management, water projects and the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel.



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