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O'Dwyer's Newsletter - Sep. 4, 2012 - Vol. 45 - No. 35 (download PDF version)

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The Costa Rica Tourism Board is looking to hire a PR firm to attract visitors from the U.S. and Canada. The two-year contract is budgeted at $360K, with an option to renew for another pair of years. The Board has allocated $20K yearly for presentations on strategies and work sessions in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica
Photo: Costa Rica Tourism Board

The pitch is to position Costa Rica as a leader in sustainable tourism, while promoting the country's value and competitive advantages over other Caribbean and central America vacation spots.

The winning firm will have at least 10 years of travel experience and will handle the work in a city that contains the country’s best traveler prospects – Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle, Houston, Dallas, Chicago, New York, Washington or Florida. The Board may seek PR in other target markets, including England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, which would require an additional budget. A “sworn statement” is needed attesting to a firm’s ability to work in those global markets.

Deadline for English submissions is Sept. 10. Spanish languages bids will be accepted until Sept. 17. Burson-Marsteller is the incumbent on the Costa Rica account. RFP:


Ryan Peal, a former creative director and senior VP for Hill+Knowlton, has taken the new GM post for Fleishman-Hillard in Los Angeles.

San Diego-based senior partner Della Sweetman, to whom Peal reports, had overseen the L.A. operation for F-H as GM for Southern California.

The firm has been building up its California operations, including new L.A. additions like managing supervisors Chris Ward (Murphy O'Brien) and Lauren Karasek (Atomic PR).

F-H's Los Angeles outpost was the center of a 2004 overbilling and pay-to-play scandal that led to a multimillion-dollar settlement with the city and a jail term for office head Doug Dowie.

J.J. Carter, president for the U.S. West region of FH, said the appointment of a dedicated GM for L.A. is “an important milestone for the agency.”

Peal has been consulting since exiting Momentum Worldwide as a partner last October.


Jim Tsokanos is leaving the MSLGroup North America presidency post on Sept. 10 to pursue a "more entrepreneurial venture," the Publicis Groupe unit announced Aug. 29.


He’s an 11-year veteran, who took the U.S. helm in 2007 at predecessor firm, Manning Selvage & Lee. Previously, Tsokanos ran the Atlanta and New York offices.

Tsokanos will be replaced by Renee Wilson, chief client officer, who has worked with MSLGroup blue-chips such as Procter & Gamble, General Motors, Kellogg and Tiffany. Wilson also served as managing director of New York.

She is to work closely with CEO Olivier Fleurot as she transitions out of the CCO position during the next few weeks.

MSLGroup and Publicis face a class action sex discrimination lawsuit filed by former healthcare chief Monique da Silva. The suit seeks $100M in damages.

WPP PR, PA UP 5.8% IN Q2

WPP said PR and public affairs revenues rose 5.8% to £234M in the second quarter with a particular slowdown in Washington and at its Penn Schoen Berland unit.

CEO Martin Sorrell said Cohn & Wolfe continued strong growth seen in Q1, and singled out its German PR unit Herin Schuppener, as well. Other units include Burson-Marsteller, Ogilvy PR and Glover Park Group.

Overall at WPP, revenue was up 6.2% to just under £2.6B on operating profit of £570M.

For the first half, WPP's PR and public affairs is up 6.8% to £459M with an operating profit of £62M.

In North America overall, Sorrell cited reduced client spending in parts of the healthcare business, custom research, WPP’s call center operation and public affairs businesses in Washington in advance of the presidential election.

Improvement was seen in the U.K., although Western Europe slowed with the U.S.

WPP is returning to the U.K. from Ireland next year, pending shareholder approval, because of new legislation in Britain protecting foreign profits from taxes.

“The pattern of 2012 looks very similar to 2010 and 2011, albeit at lower overall like-for-like growth rates – in effect, the same but less,” Sorrell said in a statement. Looking further ahead, 2013 is likely to be more challenging.

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