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O'Dwyer's Newsletter - Nov. 19, 2012 - Vol. 45 - No. 46 (download PDF version)

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Edelman has named Robert Phillips to the new position of global chair-public engagement and future strategies as the No. 1 PR firm seeks to fend off challenges from ad agencies and digital shops for primacy in the social media space, Richard Edelman told O’Dwyer’s.


He described the slot as a “big think” position and a move to codify the seismic shifts in PR that are occurring in a communications market that is changing faster than ever.

Edelman expects his firm will continue to thrive in the public engagement arena due to its strengths in “bottom-up” communications, where transparency, visibility and the ability to foster conversations are paramount.

One of the biggest advantages that PR has over advertising, according to Edelman, is that PR messages have more substance.

Phillips added that PR “celebrates complexity” while “top-down” advertising pushes “reductivity” or shaving themes to eight-word sound-bites.

The executives believe that ad agencies and digital shops look at online communications from a technology stand-point, while Edelman gears its effort to "behavioral change."

Phillips said his future strategies work will decide how breakthroughs in communications impact Edelman and its clients. His overall mission is to keep Edelman "ahead of the curve" and flexible enough to adapt to the rapidly changing world of communications.

Phillips joined Edelman in 2004 after the firm that he co-founded, Jackie Cooper Public Relations, was acquired. He became CEO of Edelman/U.K. in 2007 and CEO of EMEA January 2011.

Phillips is co-author of "Citizen Renaissance," which sees the world shifting from rampant consumerism to citizen-based values.


Revamping biotech company Dendreon has brought in Lindsay Rocco to head corporate communications.

Rocco takes an executive VP title reporting to chairman and CEO John Johnson, who joined in February from Savient Pharmaceuticals. Rocco was previously senior VP at Omnicom’s Rx Mosaic Health and, earlier, director of public affairs at Roche-Genentech.

The Seattle-based developer of prostate cancer drug Provenge is in the midst of a $150M cost-cutting plan that includes cutting 600 jobs and closure of a manufacturing plant as it shifts sales and marketing operations to Bridgewater, N.J. Third-quarter revenue was up 21 percent, including a 27% increase from the two-year-old prostate cancer treatment to $77.9M. Its quarterly loss soared to $154.9M on the restructuring and analysts noted Provenge sales are falling well short of goals.

Rocco, based in New Jersey, noted she joins Dendreon at “such an important time for the company.”

Katherine Stueland previously led corporate comms. and IR from Seattle.

Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher works with Dendreon.


Energy drink marketer Living Essentials responded last week to reports that its flagship 5-Hour Energy "shot" was possibly involved in 13 deaths.

The Food and Drug Administration said last week that the two-ounce caffeine drink has been associated with 92 adverse reports over the past four years. Thirty-two resulted in hospitalizations.

Responding to reports, LE, through spokeswoman Elaine Lutz, stressed that 5-Hour Energy is a dietary supplement and sought to distance the product from so-called energy drinks like Red Bull which are regulated differently by the FDA.

“Living Essentials is unaware of any deaths proven to have been caused by the consumption of 5-Hour Energy,” she said, pointing out that adverse reports are not admissions that the product was involved or contributed to an event.

Lutz said the company “takes reports of any potential adverse event tied to our products very seriously,” adding that the product is “strictly regulated by and complies with” laws governing dietary supplements.

She was not yet reached by O’Dwyer’s about her role with LE. [A LinkedIn profile for an Elaine Lutz lists that individual as owner of PR shop EPL Communications and Chrysler PR manager as a previous position.]

Washington, D.C.-based Crosby-Volmer Int'l Communications previously handled the Living Essentials PR account, winning the business in 2007 and handling tasks like developing a crisis plan for the company as it moved to a mass-market product.

Last month, Monster Beverage, another drink marketed as a dietary supplement, was in the spotlight after a lawsuit and FDA reports possibly linked the product to five deaths and other illnesses. Pondel Wilkinson works PR for Monster.


Poultry giant Butterball is in the crosshairs of animal rights group Mercy for Animals for a second straight year, following the group's Nov. 13 release of an undercover video purporting to show abuses at a Butterball facility.

Mercy for Animals said an investigator recorded the footage in October at a Butterball facility in North Carolina showing workers abusing turkeys.

Butterball, which works with Edelman for PR, said in a statement that it takes the allegations seriously and has a “zero tolerance policy” regarding animal abuse, which involves suspending workers involved before conducting an investigation.

“Pending the completion of that investigation, Butterball will then make a determination on additional actions including immediate termination for those involved,” the company said.

A video released by MFA last November led to animal cruelty charges against a handful of Butterball employees.

The group is urging consumers turn to vegetarian, turkey-free Thanksgiving dinners.

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