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Internet Edition, April 12, 2000, Page 1


A six-page article in the May issue of Red Herring magazine, which will go on newsstands next week, says high-tech companies are being "fleeced of huge fees by PR firms."

The report by staff writer Kenneth Neil Cukier says that with many high profile firms turning away client prospects at the rate of 20 or more a week, a "second tier" of firms has sprung up "offering little more than a stale E-mail list and a gaggle of interns to place pestering follow-up calls."

As a result, "reporters feel besieged and clients feel cheated," said Cukier.  This is the latest in a series of negative articles about high-tech PR.  The initial blast came last November when Soft-letter polled 91 journalists about PR and received comments such as "the quality has sunk to unbelievable lows" and "Trinket Know-nothings" have overrun the field.

"FrontPage" inventor Charles Ferguson said in a book published in January that the rank-and-file of PR is "completely dominated by attractive young women," a strategy pioneered by Regis McKenna and his "army of Regettes."  The april Harper's then wrote five pages about PR women seeking millionaire execs in Silicon Valley.  The New York Times on April 10 did a front page article on single women seeking rich "geeks" in Palo Alto.

The Red Herring article, part of a 480-page issue, said some firms charge clients full fees for travel time; unnecessarily change press kits, and charge for creation of press lists that already exist.  Interviewed were execs from Alexander Ogilvy, Fleishman-Hillard, Waggener Edstrom, Brodeur Worldwide, and Niehaus Ryan Wong.


Interpublic, paying more for one company than it did for 55 acquisitions in 1999, is buying NFO Worldwide, Greenwich, Conn., research firm, for about $580 million in stock. It spent about $515M in cash and stock for all its acquisitions in 1999. NFO stockholders are expected to approve the deal April 21. NFO has 3,300 employees and 3,000 clients worldwide. It lost $6.2M in 1999 after a profit of $14.5M in 1998. Revenues soared 66%, reflecting acquisitions and currency translation gains.

IPG has purchased Nueva Comunicacion, Buenos Aires, described as the largest PR firm in South America with 70 employees and $10M in billings. Clients include Coca-Cola, Unilever, McDonald's, Wal-Mart, Citibank and Telefonica de Argentina.


The Coalition for Asbestos Resolution, which is lobbying to limit asbestos liability, has hired Goddard Claussen Porter Novelli, Washington, D.C., for an ad campaign.

GCPN, which produced the "Harry and Louise" commercials credited with helping defeat the Clinton healthcare proposal in 1994, has launched a $300K-$400K inside-the-Beltway campaign for the Coalition.

CAR is supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and GAF Corp., which The Washington Post said have spent more than $7 million since 1997 to get a bill passed that would limit lawsuits against former asbestos producers.

The ads blame "asbestos lawyers" for clogging courts and preventing compensation to asbestos victims before they die.

A bill which passed 18 to 15 by the House Judiciary Committee last month would limit the financial exposure of former asbestos producers, and set up a federal agency to evaluate claims. The Senate version of the bill appears to have bipartisan support.

The Council for Biotechnology Information is the name given to the coalition that will do an ad/PR campaign for genetically engineered crops (3/22 NL). Members include Monsanto, DuPont, Novartis and Dow Chemical. BSMG Worldwide is handling a $50 million+ PR, PA and ad campaign. One TV spot shows the sun setting over a farm and has shots of doctors, children and farmers. There is upbeat music and a narration about the promise of biotechnology. The April 10 New Yorker had a lengthy article on Monsanto, noting that biotech has aroused heavy opposition in Europe. Biotech can backfire by making undesirable as well as desirable plants resistant to pesticides, the article said.

Nancy Nielsen, VP-CC at the New York Times Co., is leaving after 14 years to head the Globalization Project of Harvard's Center for the Study of World Religions. She is succeeded by IR director Catherine Mathis, 46, who was at Overseas Shipholding Group and International Paper before joining the Times in 1997...David S. Fuhrman, 38, VP of The Weber Group, S.F., to Porter Novelli Convergence Group as a senior manager.  Marc Bien named SVP of Weber/S.F.  Bien joined Weber last August from Burson-Marsteller, L.A...Ken Herz, 18-year Chase Manhattan VP, to Mellon Financial Corp., Pittsburgh, as dir., CC. 

Internet Edition, April 12, 2000, Page 2


Toronto author, Naomi Klein’s new book, "No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies," has made her a spokesperson for the anti-corporate youth movement. The 29-year-old writer’s book has been on the Canadian best seller lists since its publication in January, a few weeks after days of protests in Seattle forced the cancellation of the World Trade Organization meeting.

No Logo Book Klein, who mixes activism with analysis, has been touring the university speakers circuit, filling university auditoriums, and she recently started writing a column for The Toronto Globe and Mail.

"Her war on modern corporations boils down to a central theme: As companies’ marketing budgets become more and more lavish, they maintain profit margins by farming out manufacturing to sweatshops in the poorest corners of the globe, " said James Brooke, a reporter for the New York Times.

Klein is participating in debates in New York before going to Washington, D.C., where protestors are getting ready to demonstrate at meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

She also plans to attend another meeting of the World Bank and the IMF, in Prague in September.

In No Logo, Klein demonstrates how brands have become ubiquitous, not just in media and on the street but increasingly in the schools as well.

She said the global companies claim to support diversity, but their version of "corporate multiculturalism" is merely intended to create more buying options for consumers.

Workers Don't Share

When Klein talks about how easy it is for retailers like Wal-Mart and Blockbuster to "censor" the contents of videotapes and albums, she also considers the role a corporate conglomeration plays in the process.  How much would one expect Paramount Pictures, for example, to protest against Blockbuster’s policies, given they are both divisions of Viacom, she asks.

Klein also looks at the workers who keep these companies running, most of whom never share in any of the great rewards.  She discusses the tactic of hiring "permatemps" who can do most of the work and receive few, if any, benefits like healthcare, paid vacations, or stock options.

She believes a backlash against the brands has set in.  Street-level education programs have taught kids, for example, not only about Nike’s abusive labor practices but about the astronomical markup in their prices.   

According to a report in The New York Times (April 3), one of Klein’s grandfathers, a Marxist, was fired by Walt Disney for trying to unionize the animators of "Fantasia."

The Times said her parents left the U.S. in the late 1960’s to protest the Vietnam War, her mother becoming a "feminist filmmaker and her father, a doctor, a supporter of Canada’s national health system."


A study conducted by GCI Group found five of the largest global mergers in 1998 and 1999 attracted more negative news coverage (47.1%) than positive coverage (32.7%).

One-third of the coverage in major news media focused on trouble in meshing corporate cultures and other employee relations issues.

The five mergers studied were British Petroleum and Amoco; Citicorp and Travelers; Daimler-Benz and Chrysler; Deutsche Bank and Bankers Trust, and Exxon and Mobil.

Several studies have chronicled the challenges of getting a merger or acquisition to perform up to expectations, according GCI.

An A.T. Kearney study found of 115 global mergers between 1993 and 1996, 58% of the deals failed to create substantial returns for shareholders.

A Mercer Management study reviewing all mergers between 1990 and 1996 found nearly half "destroyed" shareholder value.

A study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that of 97 acquisitions from 1994 to 1997 worth $500 million or more, two-thirds of the buyers’ stock dropped at the announcement.


John Ashford, chairman/CEO of the Hawthorn Group, an Alexandria, Va.-based PR firm, said political consultants are unethical when they divulge confidential information about their clients.

Ashford said the American Assn. of Political Consultants has a rule that states members will "respect the confidence of my clients and not reveal confidential or privileged information obtained during our professional relationship."

Ashford states his views in an opinion piece that ran in the March 19 edition of The Washington Post.

He said he was "troubled" by the report that Sen. John McCain’s consultant, Mike Murphy, agreed to give frank interviews to the Post’s Howard Kurtz during McCain’s presidential run, but no story could be published until the campaign was over.  

"The more I read, the more the story bothered me," said Ashford, who has been a consultant to many Democrats, including Sen. Edward Kennedy, Sen. John Glenn, and Sen. Claiborne Pell.

Ashford said Murphy is "only the latest of a collection of consultants and staff members to engage in this game of advise-and-tell."

George Stephanopoulos and Stan Greenberg, who were consultants to President Clinton, had committed "far more serious violations of trust and confidence" than Murphy, said Ashford.

"I think official Washington needs to have a frank conversation about this trend.  It is spiraling toward being a threat to our political soul.

"Imagine a world where your lawyer, accountant or any other professionals you hired felt that it was acceptable to give every detail to everybody once the court case, tax cycle or business relationship was over," said Ashford.

Internet Edition, April 12, 2000, Page 3


Veteran PR pro and author Leonard Saffir is CEO of, a website for consumers that will feature an array of celebrity news and merchandise.

Saffir said the Boca Raton-based site, which is scheduled to be launched in May, will be packed with the latest news, information and profiles as well as CDs, DVDs, videos and licensed merchandise linked to the stars of films, TV, Broadway, music and sports.

Saffir said the three major stockholders in CelebrityStores are: e-Integrators, Beber/Silverstein & Ptrs., a Miami-based ad agency, which also owns JGR PR, and Plexus Interactive, also based in Miami.

The editorial content will be supplied by Streaming Media, a company which resells stories from more than 500 media outlets, ranging from The Associated Press to Rolling Stone to The New York Times and USA Today.

Editorial offices will be located at 3020 North Military trail in Boca Raton. An editor and other news staffers are currently being interviewed for positions.  Currently, the company has an office at 1515 S. Federal hwy., Boca Raton.  561/479-2969.

Tilson Communications, an 11-year-old PR firm in Boca Raton, is handling publicity for the new website.  Tilson is also a stockholder of the company.

Universal Press Syndicate will start distributing April 15 a package of fashion content from www.FashionWire, an Internet-based news service that was started six months ago by Branduso Niro, who also owns North American Publicity, a New York-based PR firm.

PR Newswire’s Press Room website (www. has a new "Money Beat" section featuring breaking news, trade show and conference information and financial news from Asia, Australia and Europe.

Some 17,000 journalists use the PRN Press Room, which was started as a free service in late 1997.  It offers other specific sections covering the automotive, technology, travel, energy, retail, entertainment, sports, media and finance industries.

O, The Oprah Magazine, makes its nationwide debut on newsstands April 19.  The first issue has 166 ad pages and the second (July/August) issue has 125 ad pages. The magazine, which is a co-venture between Hearst Magazines and Harpo Entertainment Group, will go monthly in September.

Ellen Kunes, editor-in-chief, said the magazine will target women 25-49 year olds with articles about health, relationships, finances, beauty, fashion, fitness and celebrities.

Winfrey, who is editorial director, will appear on every cover for the foreseeable future, said Kunes.

Editorial offices are at 1700 Broadway, NYC.

MEDIA BRIEFS _______________________

Six magazines have gotten credit from the Office of National Drug Control Policy for including anti-drug messages in their articles.

The magazines named by Salon are: U.S. News & World Report, The Sporting News, Family Circle, Seventeen, Parade and USA Weekend.

Salon, which recently reported a similar arrangement in the TV industry, said the drug policy office never read the articles before publication in deciding whether to grant a credit and never influenced editorial content in any way.

Under a plan that began in 1997, the drug control office was authorized to spend up to $1 billion over five years in TV and print ads against drug use.  For every ad bought by the office, the publication or network would run a public service ad. Media organizations could ask that an article that included a strong anti-drug message be used as a substitute.

Jacqueline Leo, president of the American Society of Magazine Editors, said she saw nothing wrong with the arrangement.

Bob Weiner, a spokesman for the anti-drug office, said no news articles were given credit, just feature articles that stress that children should not use drugs.

Starbucks is reevaluating Joe, its custom-publishing venture with Time, after three issues that registered lukewarm sales.

Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment and Primedia have agreed to combine their two soap opera websites— and—respectively.

SoapCity provides coverage, updated daily, for 10 daytime dramas and is also the official site for Columbia TriStar properities like "The Young and the Restless" and "Days of Our Lives."

The live webcasts feature weekly celebrity chats, fashion and style reviews, up-to-the minute news and its new e-commerce destination, SoapCityStore.

Primedia’s Soap Opera Digest magazine also features celebrity profiles, soap synopses and the stars’ views on such topics as parenting, food, fashion and beauty., San Francisco, is buying Gaywire News Network, which delivers breaking news releases and information provided directly from gay and lesbian companies and organizations.

Mark Elderkin, president/COO of, said Gaywire’s online distribution network will be expanded to the existing base of 2,500 website affiliates., a healthcare information website which was started in June 1998 by former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, may not have enough cash to continue operations beyond the next 12 months, according to its auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Internet Edition, April 12, 2000, Page 4


The Wall Street Journal named Stephen Adler as a deputy managing editor, and John Brecher is leaving as Page One editor.

Adler's responsibilities will include coordination with The Interactive Journal, and the Journal's investigative team.  He makes the third deputy mng. editor who reports to Paul E. Steiger, managing editor. The others are Daniel Hertzberg and Byron Calame.

Brecher, whose replacement has not yet been named, plans to write a wine column with his wife Dorothy Gaiter.

PEOPLE ______________________________

William F. Gloede was elevated from editor of Mediaweek to group editor of Editor & Publisher and Mediaweek magazines.

Keith Dunnavant was named editor of Adweek Magazines' special reports/Mediaweek Features; Michael Burgi was named managing editor, and James Cooper was appointed news editor.

Kathryn Dennis was named exec. editor of MC, Adweek Magazines' monthly computer publication.

Patricia Orsini was made editor of IQ, the interactive supplement of Adweek Magazines, and Kipp Cheng was named news editor.

Anne Kilpatrick was named director of photography for Teen People magazine, and Christine Duvulo is now photo editor of Teen People Online.

Joseph Steuer, previously a reporter for The Hollywood Reporter and Women's Wear Daily, is now executive editor of Interview magazine.

Katherine Boo of The Washington Post, Sam Roe of The Toledo Blade and Willy Stern of The Nashville Scene were awarded 1999 medals by Investigative Reporters and Editors for their investigative work.

Alberto Oliva, previously U.S. bureau chief of Editorial Atlantida, an Argentine magazine publisher of nine weekly publications, has joined People En Espanol as associate editor.  He will oversee the editing of primary features of the magazine.

Tiarra Mukherjee, previously executive editor at Notorious magazine, has rejoined Vibe as music editor.  Mukherjee will conceive, assign, and edit the magazine's music stories, secure covers, and will work on planning the magazine*s overall editorial content and style.

Beth Kwon, who was a reporter for TheStreet. com and Newsweek, has joined FSB: Fortune Small Business, as a writer.  Arlyan Gajilan, who edits "Livewire" and features, was promoted to senior writer.  Carlye Adler, former reporter for Institutional Investor, was moved up from writer-reporter to writer.


Kinsey Wilson was named editor-in-chief of  He was formerly editor of daily news at Congressional Quarterly.

Wilson will be responsible for editorial content on the website, which has nearly 15 million unique monthly users, according to the publisher.

MEDIA BRIEFS ___________________________

Lisa Napoli, who is the Internet correspondent for, said a publicist pitched her a story about a new print version of, asked her to recommend former colleagues at The New York Times who might be interested in the story, and then a few hours later asked her to hold the story to let The Wall Street Journal have an exclusive.

"It surprised me that the caller was so brazen and careless with his tidbit of information, and didn't stop to think that his request might be insulting," said Napoli.  

"Not really seeing the Journal and the Times as competition to my job here on TV and on the Web, and feeling sorry for the begging man, I said okay," said Napoli, who did not identify the publicist.

But Napoli changed her mind after she saw the new magazine, called Nerve, was being promoted on the company's website.

Her story ran March 31, three days before The Journal's report.

Her story also discloses dropped its PR agency, RLM PR, and started its own in-house agency in February.  "They claimed they were doing so, according to one report, because of 'frustrating' experiences with firms," said Napoli.  The publicist who asked her to hold her story was hired away from RLM to head the new PR department, according to Napoli, who said RLM*s managing director said the publicist had "just five months' experience."

James Cramer, the hedge fund manager who co-founded, which is up for sale, is glad to be back at New York magazine as its "Bottom Line" columnist.

Cramer, who left four years ago, says E-zines cannot hold a candle to the old media.

"I like to be read by my peers on Wall Street, and I like to be read by the people where I's driving me nuts I lost those great audiences..." he says in an editor's note in his first column since returning.

NIRI/New York, which has 800 members, has launched a website at

IR and PR professionals can exchange ideas in an open forum, providing advice, insight and critiques of hotels, meeting venues, transportation services and IR program strategies.

Other highlights include: programs and event calendar including online registration; educational opportunities through forums and seminars; latest chapter news; links to other sites, and membership details.

Internet Edition, April 12, 2000, Page 7


Business Week April 3 devoted two pages to the biggest owner of PR firms–Omnicom–calling it an "empire of happy fiefdoms" and a "loose federation of agencies, 'Net firms, and niche-marketing outfits."

Omnicom (OMC) owns PR firms that have PR fees totaling $700 million, about $300M ahead of the next biggest owner, Interpublic.

A competitor called OMC "a conglomerate of all these isolated parts" and asked why OMC exists at all "if it's not adding value to its parts."

BW noted that the firm likes to keep a low profile. Wren has rejected invitations to speak at the American Assn. of Adv. Agencies and similar groups.

Business Week magazine
CEO John Wren, pictured above, described as "shy about taking the spotlight," responded that 85 of the top 100 OMC clients used three or more company units in 1999, up from 12 in 1993.

The BW analysis, emphasizing the revenue and stock price growth of OMC, is the most searching piece on the company since Christopher Byron did one for MSNBC April 25, 1997.

Byron was much harsher on OMC than BW.

He said the firm had a "weak and strained balance sheet" and predicted that its "balance sheet games" would one day "catch up with it."

Receivables/Payables Gap Grows

Byron pointed out at that time that OMC's current liabilities of $2.8B exceeded current assets of $2.4 billion. As of Dec. 31, 1999, liabilities of $6.0B exceeded assets of $4.7 billion. A $400M gap had grown to $1.3 billion.

Byron was also worried about the $1B in intangibles at the end of 1996, which are being deducted off earnings but not taxes over a 40-year period (which Byron thought was far too long a period).

Intangibles have now grown to $2.4B on total revenues of $5.1B. Since stockholders' equity is $1.5B, OMC has a negative net worth of $875M.

What most annoyed Byron was OMC's habit of turning the media and other suppliers into "banks" by holding onto money due to them.

At the end of 1996, OMC was owed $1.54B by clients but owed media $2.05B–a $514M gap.

At the end of 1999, payables exceeded receivables by $754M, which is more than the $576M in cash that OMC had on Dec. 31, 1999.

A bright spot on OMC's balance sheet is "long-term investments." This rose from $4.9M to $785M as of Dec. 31, 1999, based on OMC's ownership of and other Internet companies. BW said OMC's dot-com stakes are now worth $2.5B+.

IPG Has Stronger Balance Sheet

Interpublic Group of Cos., whose revenues were $4.5B in 1999, had current assets of $5.7B and current liabilities of $5.6B. It owed media $4.5B while clients owed IPG $4.3B. Cash totaled $981M. Stockholders* equity was $1.628B and intangibles were nearly the same at $1.657B. IPG had $717M in investments.

Both OMC and IPG continued their acquisitive ways in 1999. OMC, which owed half of its growth in 1998 to acquisitions, bought the rest of affiliate Abbott Mead Vickers of the U.K. for stock worth $545M. AMV was said to "bill" $1.6B which, at 15% commission, would be a gross of $240M.

Total cost of this and "several" other acquisitions in 1999 was $748M in cash and stock with intangibles totaling $489M. OMC has been asked for a list of the acquisitions, size and types of business, and price paid (when the price is public record).

IPG acquired 55 companies in 1999 for $180M cash and 8,393,893 shares (worth $335M at IPG's current stock price of around $40). IPG has been asked for a similar list of these acquisitions, which are not described in any public or stockholder document issued by IPG.

Hill and Knowlton, which was previously sued for its work many years ago for the Tobacco Council, is part of a $3.4 billion lawsuit by the Healthcare Assn. of New York State and 147 private hospitals. The suit seeks to recover payments to Medicaid and Medicare patients...Saatchi & Saatchi and Young & Rubicam, which own major PR operations, are the subject of biting comments on Yahoo. com message boards. SSA (its stock symbol) is said to be "desperate to cut a deal with Grey Advertising." YNR has attracted negative comments partly because its stock recently plummeted from $73 to $40. One message said the firm is "in total disarray" and its only hope is that WPP will buy it. "There's hardly ever any news of the firm," said one critic. A message on Omnicom said, "It seems like a lot of creative people are leaving." An Interpublic message wondered if the 900 layoffs from IPG's merging of two ad units to form Lowe Lintas might touch off age discrimination suits. There are also positive messages on such boards, some of them supplied by corporate spokespeople...Troy Aikman, Dallas Cowboys quarterback, married former Cowboys PR staffer Rhonda Worthey April 8...the boards of PRSA and the Institute of PR (U.K.) had a historic first meeting April 5-8 in London but no stories or press releases were posted on either of their websites as of April 10. PRSA has not had a press relations person since last September...the Council of PR Firms has budgeted $100K to measure the effectiveness of PR, it was announced April 3 at a meeting of the Institute for PR's commission on PR measurement at American University, Washington, D.C. Wirthlin Worldwide has been named to develop "PR Outcome Models." CPRF chair David Drobis called the effort "a landmark project."...The National Investor Relations Institute's annual conference and IR services showcase will be held June 12-14 in San Francisco. Walden (Wally) O'Dell, president/CEO of Diebold International, will open the conference and discuss IR as a corporate strategy.", a Santa Monica-based Internet business directory and online resource for business info, has named Golin/Harris/Los Angeles for PR.

Internet Edition, April 12, 2000, Page 8

A rare and mostly positive look at the ad conglomerate Omnicom is in Business Week 4/3.

Although OMC is the biggest owner of PR firms ($700M+ in fees or about 15% of its business), the firm is almost pathologically shy. After four years at the helm, CEO John Wren has yet to address a major ad meeting.

The rationale of the No. 1 owner of ad agencies, which we heard  before Wren took over, is that the attention should be on OMC's hundreds of "brands" or agencies and not on OMC itself.

The refrain was, "We're only the holding company." However, we don't buy that. The real reason OMC lies low is the usual one–it has too many embarrassing things it would rather not talk about.

It owes media more than clients owe it! How can that be? What happened to the money? How old are these payables? Is it running its business on other people's money?

Since half of its growth (1998) is in acquisitions (paying far too much for them according to financial writer Christopher Byron), how long can it keep this up? It's now buying suppliers such as a speakers' bureau and volatile web builders. Few big ad agencies and PR firms are left to buy.

Conglomerates Buy Relationships

OMC and No. 2 conglomerate Interpublic are mostly buying agency/client relationships. But a client can walk from one of these agencies. The PR firm or ad agency that has "sold" that relationship has rarely asked the client's permission.

Staff can and do walk. Three of the four founding partners of the hot high-tech PR firm of Copithorne & Bellows ($26.7M in fees in 1998) have just left the OMC empire. They're all in their 40's or early 50's and could conceivably get together again.

OMC is expensing the cost of the PR firms over 40 years, a long time considering the staff turnover in PR. Recruiter Lisa Ryan says the top firms have a turnover of 30% a year, one agency hit the 80% mark and 100% turnover is not unheard of.

IPG just combined two ad shops, Lowe & Partners and Ammirati Puris Lintas, to form Lowe Lintas. Some 900 staffers or 7% of the total of 13,000 will be dropped. Squashing firms together a few years after they're bought is routine practice.

OMC spent $748M in cash and stock to acquire an unspecified number of ad/PR firms in 1999 and IPG spent $515M to acquire 55 companies, say their stockholder materials. We have asked for lists of these companies and other details since very little about them is in their shareholder reports.

OMC and IPG like to talk about their companies in terms of numbers but these must be taken with a large grain of salt. The question is, what is behind the numbers? Also, certain measurements and ratios are stressed while others are virtually ignored. Earnings releases go out to the press but never releases on balance sheets, which show debt, payables, receivables, intangibles, etc. In addressing stockholders and the ad community, OMC and IPG regularly refer to new business wins in terms of "billings" only a few sentences after talking about their gross incomes (thereby mixing apples and oranges). For instance, the IPG annual report says its gross rose to $4.5B in 1999 and it had net new business wins of "approximately $1.8B." That sounds like a lot until you realize the gross was about 10% (if that) of the billings. The copy should read IPG gross rose to more than $4.5B and net new business wins totaled $180 million.

Speaking of adulterated numbers, that brings up the mess many of the OMC and IPG PR firms have made of the PR industry rankings. In a collective act we feel is a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, conglomerate-owned firms such as Porter Novelli, Hill and Knowlton, Ketchum, Rowland and Weber are allowing up to 49% of their fee incomes to be in advertising commissions. Yet this ranking is trotted out as a ranking of PR firms. The legitimate PR media, because of a collective action by the Council of PR Firms, are blocked from collecting CPA and other proofs from the big firms. Thus far OMC and IPG have sat idly by while this statistical rape has taken place. No matter what OMC and IPG say about their subsidiaries being independent, parents are responsible for their children.

The perceived assault on consumers' minds called "branding" has caused a backlash in the form of the book "No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies" (click here for full story). Brands, which are instilled in the minds of target audiences by ad campaigns and other means following extensive psychological research, are a form of "collective hallucinations," according to author Naomi Klein, a Toronto consumer activist. Her theme is that with cheap foreign labor producing so many goods these days, the giant companies have more to spend on mind control of their audiences.

She says Western consumers are targets of "Big Brother Branding" and that her generation has grown up "completely under the marketing microscope." According to Klein, corporate watchdogs are demanding a citizen-centered alternative to the "international rule of the brands."



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