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O'Dwyer's Newsletter - Oct. 22, 2012 - Vol. 45 - No. 42 (download PDF version)

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Israel’s Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs plans a $260K PR campaign targeting bloggers and opinion-leaders at home and overseas to bolster the image of settlements on the West Bank.

The World Zionist Organization is to handle that effort, according to a report on

The PR drive comes as prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for elections to be moved up to January.

According to the Ministry, the settlers are “misrepresented as a violent, conquering and destructive group.”

The Ministry said in a statement that the PR project “seeks to set off proactive measures aiming to expose opinion leaders abroad to the complex Israeli reality, thus improving Israel’s global image.”

It says the PR push is in line with its diplomatic strategy.

“The activity aims to take foreign delegations on trips across Israel, including the sites of conflict and the settlements, which stand at the center of the de-legitimization efforts waged against Israel,” according to the Ministry.


Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar has picked Kansas City hometown-based Crossroads, a unit of Barkley ad agency, to handle its PR business after a competitive pitch.

Charlotte-headquartered DFPR had done PR for the nation’s largest chain of casual dining restaurants with nearly 2,000 units in 16 countries. Its contract expired in July.

Mike Swenson is president of Crossroads, which has worked for clients such as Weight Watchers, Krispy Kreme, Big Bunny Ice Cream, Missouri Lottery, Lee Jeans and New Era Cap Co., Sporting Kansas City and March of Dimes.

A key focus of Crossroads will be to promote Applebee’s “See You Tomorrow” positioning that debuted in July.

Crispin Porter + Bogusky, a unit of MDC Partners, kicked off an advertising campaign in July to support that effort to encourage regular visits to Applebee's to sample new menu ingredients and combinations.

That push coincides with a $200M system-wide restaurant upgrade that ditches Applebee’s traditional stained glass light fixture look in favor of sleek new lighting and murals that link each outlet to its neighborhood. Applebee’s is owned by DineEquity Inc., which has more than 3,500 Applebee’s and IHOP restaurants in 18 countries, and 400 franchisees.

Barkley bills itself as the largest employee-owned ad agency.


Brunswick Group regained the top slot for U.S. M&A PR advisors through Q3 by deal value, while Kekst and Company remained in the lead for deals by volume as the M&A market slumped during the period, according to a quarterly report by mergermarket.

The research firm reported U.S. deals hit $512.1B from Q1 to Q3, a decline of 18.6% for the same period of 2011, although Q3 of 2012 was up over Q2 by 11.7%. Globally, M&A activity in Q3 was down 16.1% to $461B over Q2, and down 17.4% for the first three quarters over 2011.

Brunswick edged Q2 deal value leader Sard Verbinnen & Co in the U.S. in working 65 transactions totaling more than $118.5B. Sard handled 81 deals worth $107.6B. Brunswick worked the year’s largest U.S. transaction to date, Kraft’s spinoff of its snack business as Mondelez International, a $26.3B deal.

Kekst was the U.S. M&A PR workhorse in counseling 86 deals through Q3.

Brunswick was the global deal value leader, as well, with its work on 130 transactions totaling $180.8B. FTI Consulting topped the volume charts with 153 deals through Q3. The top five global M&A PR firms by value were Brunswick, RLM Finsbury, Sard Verbinnen, FTI and Kekst.

RLM Finsbury counseled Glencore International in its $50.6B acquisition of Xstrata, which worked with FTI, Stockwell Comms. and Aura Financial in the largest global M&A deal to date for 2012.


Finn Partners has hired Ben Trounson to strengthen the consumer practice of the New York-based independent firm.

He ran Hill+Knowlton Strategies’ consumer marketing practice in New York, a group that includes high-profile brands such as Dos Equis and Target.

Prior to working at the WPP unit, Trounson was director of client service at Omnicom’s Ketchum, representing Kodak and Bank of America.

Cliff Berman heads FP’s consumer practice, which handles Bosch Home Appliances, Dole Packaged Foods, North Face, StubHub and Vonage.

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