08 November 2006

If you’re not in dictators and drugs, you’re not in…

Get with the times, will you? If you’re new business efforts are focused on finding reputable commercial organisations from which to extract a humble retainer on a monthly basis for some positive coverage and a bunch of reports, then you’re living in the past, man. The place to be now, it seems, is helping wayward regimes, disobedient dictators and naughty nations.

Soon after the furore around H&K’s highly-paid assistance for President Gayoom of the Maldives, the Independent points the finger at another big name PR agency helping out a less-than-reputable cause.

The story focuses on remarks made by comedian Mark Thomas who has written a book on toture and the arms trade (which doesn’t sound very funny to us) and “fumes” that Weber Shandwick has agreed to help the Colombian government – which has been condemned for tacit collaboration in paramilitary massacres – improve its PR. Thomas is quoted as saying:

"Colombia is the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist. The government is found wanting. So for someone to come along and say, 'We'll show you how to do good PR' is disgraceful. Where will people draw the line? Would Weber Shandwick want to see the swastikas before deciding not to work with someone?"

Weber Shandwick replies that it has "been hired by the democratically elected Colombian government to advise on a range of issues" - "mainly... [seeking] to promote dialogue, ideas and experience of how best to combat cocaine production, trafficking and abuse.”

The guys at Getting Ink recently asked “Gosh, who can we trust these days?” If Weber Shandwick hadn’t already been mentioned in relation to some other allegedly dodgy dealings, we’d suggest perhaps adding it to the list.


Anonymous said...

Small fry. An agency I once knew handled the PR for General Pinochet at around the time he was holed up in a mansion in Surrey. All under the protection of that other well known home grown dictator, Mrs T. Colombian's, pah! Pinochet, now there's a corrupt, mass murdering dictator for you.

Anonymous said...

If the Columbians are serious about defeating the drug cartels they should hire the Taleban, not Weber Shandwick.

The Taleban would do a much better job and they wouldn't spend 25% of their budget on reporting either...