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O'Dwyer's Newsletter - Sept. 19, 2011 - Vol. 44 - No. 36 (download PDF version)

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Merck is pushing back against repetative shots aimed at its HPV vaccine Gardasil, which has become a political football in the Republican presidential primary race.


The New Jersey-based drug maker circulated a lengthy statement and fact sheet Sept. 13 after Rep. Michele Bachmann suggested in national TV appearances that Gardasil, typically administered to teenage girls, can cause mental retardation.

“The facts about Gardasil are clear,” Merck said in a statement, tying the drug to prevention of cervical cancer. “The efficacy and safety of Gardasil was established in clinical trials in thousands of patients.”

Bachmann in a Sept. 13 debate on CNN said a woman approached her crying to say her daughter “suffered mental retardation as a result” of an HPV vaccine. “There are very dangerous consequences,” Bachmann said, before repeating the allegation on NBC’s “The Today Show” on Sept. 14.

The Minnesota Congresswoman has sought to leverage the vaccine against front-runner and Texas governor, Rick Perry, who mandated HPV vaccines for young women in his state. He also took donations from Merck and his former chief of staff lobbies for the company.

Edelman and Cohn & Wolfe/GCI have worked PR for Merck’s Gardasil business since its approval in 2006.


Ketchum has landed Tourism Australia’s PR account for the Americas, following an RFP review.

Fleishman-Hillard was the three-year incumbent.

Ketchum’s Los Angeles office locked up a three-year contract which started on Sept. 9 to guide PR programs covering the U.S., Canada and Latin America.

Tourism Australia’s VP of the Americas, Daryl Hudson, said the Omnicom unit showed a solid understanding of the business as well as “the future of public relations,” adding a desire to capitalize on the digital realm. He said F-H did a “great job” over the past three years, including the rollout of its current campaign, “There’s Nothing Like Australia,” and playing a key role in Oprah’s PR blockbuster visit last year.

Ketchum’s three-year pact has a year-long option.


Allyson Hugley, senior VP of MSLGroup’s insight creation unit, has move to Weber Shandwick as executive VP of its measurement and analytics practice.

In a 14-year PR career, Hugley has counseled Partnership for a Drug Free America, GE Medical Systems, Philip Morris Youth Smoking Prevention and AARP.

Before working at the Publicis Groupe shop, Hugley was research manager at Scholastic Inc., publisher of children’s books.

Hugley serves as vice chairman of the North American chapter of the Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications.


FTI Consulting has dropped the FD name for its strategic communications division, five years after its acquisition in a $260M deal.

FTI Consulting

West Palm Beach, Fla.-based FTI said in January that it was adopting a “One Brand” strategy across its five business units and FD is the latest. The push has coincided with a major marketing effort to put FTI’s name among the so-called Big Four of business consultancies.

Ed Reilly, CEO of the strategic communications division, said the change is particularly timely given volatility in global markets. “Operating under the FTI Consulting brand ensures that we can advise our clients through whatever critical event they may face,” he said.

FD revenues were up 7.5% in the second quarter to $53.6M as the firm counseled 122 deals in the first half.

The firm took its name from predecessor Financial Dynamics, which itself was a relatively small London-based agency when it absorbed Morgen-Walke Assocs. in 2002 under Cordiant Comms. Upper management led by Charles Watson bought FD from Cordiant in 2003.

FTI, which paid $260M for FD in 2006, counts corporate finance/restructuring, forensic/litigation consulting, technology, and economic consulting as its other main units alongside strategic communications.


Cohn & Wolfe has named Brad McCormick, who was executive VP/global digital director at Porter Novelli, senior digital strategist and executive VP/managing director of the firm’s Austin outpost.

Kelley, Hovey
Kelley, Hovey

Brooke Hovey, who had led Austin, is upped to executive VP/digital practice-Americas. She is to oversee digital recruitment and push the WPP’s social media and thought leadership strategy.

Hovey has handled clients such as ExxonMobil, Dell and MasterCard. She reports to Chad Latz, global digital practice president.

McCormick was with Ruder Finn in the senior VP/digital client services post before moving to PN. He has worked on key accounts like BP, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble and U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security.

C&W also recruited Katy Kelley, VP-corporate communications at Ruder Finn, for the VP-global marketing and communications post. She reports to Jill Tannenbaum, chief marketing officer. Prior to RF, Kelley was VP at social media shop Carrot Creative and communications manager at digital agency HUGE.

CEO Donna Imperato says her top strategic priority is to transform C&W globally from a company with digital experts to a company where digital is embedded in every aspect of the organization.”

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