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O'Dwyer's Newsletter - Nov. 28, 2011 - Vol. 44 - No. 46 (download PDF version)

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Kekst & Co. is handling Penn State’s probe into the alleged sex abuse by the former Nittany Lions defense coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

Jeffrey Taufield, managing director of the Publicis Groupe property, told O’Dwyer’s the work is for the “special committee of the Pennsylvania State University board of trustees that is investigating the university’s actions with regard to the allegations of child abuse.”

Kekst’s Penn State team includes Tom Davies, Jeremy Fielding and Jim Fingeroth.

Penn State’s full board of directors turned to Omnicom’s Ketchum for PR counsel when news of the allegations became national headlines, leading to the firing of football head coach Joe Paterno and resignation of president Graham Spanier.

Kenneth Frazier, Merck CEO, is the trustee who heads the special committee.

The committee has hired the firm of former FBI director Louis Freeh – Freeh Group International Solutions – to probe the abuse and the way the allegations were handled by the university. [Freeh was also named trustee for MF Global’s bankruptcy case.]

Sandusky faces criminal charges for allegedly assaulting eight boys over 15 years. He claims innocence.

Kekst also worked Ohio State University’s crisis surrounding the memorabilia-for-cash scandal that triggered the fall of its revered football coach Jim Tressel.


Florida’s emergency management entity is reviewing via RFP its public education effort campaign for hurricane preparedness in the Sunshine State on a year-long contract.

Get a Plan

The Florida Division of Emergency Management wants a firm to guide its five-year-old “Get a Plan!” campaign, which educates Floridians about hurricane safety and preparing for other events.

Public service announcements for TV, radio and Internet, along with polling and research and event support are included in the pact.

Orlando-based ad and PR agency Evok is the incumbent after beating seven other pitches for the account last year.

Proposals are due Jan. 4, 2012.

View the RFP at


APCO Worldwide is handling media for MF Global court-appointed trustee, James Giddens, who is handling the distribution of assets to customers of the former investment firm of Jersey Senator/Governor Jon Corzine.

Financial media reported that the estimate of the amount of “missing assets” has doubled to $1.2B.

APCO executive VP and crisis pro Kent Jarrell is spokesperson for the trustee.

He told O’Dwyer’s that APCO was “retained by the Trustee for the Liquidation of MF Global Inc. in the hours following the Trustee’s appointment by a federal judge in New York on Oct. 31.”

Jarrell, who served as lead on the Lehman Bros. liquidation, also handled media for Merck’s Vioxx litigation, WorldCom’s restructuring, Ford Motor’s battle with Firestone and Alaska Airlines’ plane crash probe.

On MF Global, Jarrell is supported by APCO staffers in New York and Washington, D.C.

Customer accounts of $5.5B were frozen in the aftermath of MF Global's collapse.

Giddens, so far, has distributed $1.5B in collateral to customers and is returning $520M in cash.

He said he remains committed to returning 100 percent of client money.


Longtime Oscar PR pro Leslie Unger is stepping down in December as communications director for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


The Academy installed a new CEO, Dawn Hudson, in June and tapped film PR and marketing vet Christina Kounelias as chief marketing officer in late July.

The Academy’s PR was placed under Kounelias’ purview.

Unger is slated to exit on Dec. 2 after 19 years with the Academy.

She joined in 1992 as a publicity coordinator and took the reins as communications director in 2007 on the retirement of John Pavlik after the 79th Academy Awards that year.

Pavlik was the Oscars’ first in-house PR head, setting up the Academy's unit in 1992.

Unger most recently handled the resignation of Oscar producer Brett Ratner, following an anti-gay remark. His exit preceded the departure of comedian Eddie Murphy as host of the event.

The 84th Academy Awards event is planned for Feb. 26, 2012 with Billy Crystal as host.

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