Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hill & Knowlton is evil

I did not know this before, but I know this now from a blogpost by Clare Curran, Labour MP for Dunedin South, at Red Alert. Before becoming an MP she ran a business, which is unusual for a Labour MP. It was a PR agency, Inzight Communications, and she ran it from 2003 to 2008, winning a PRINZ award in 2006. Before that she worked in a Sydney PR agency, 2001-2. So she knows the industry at an international level. Yesterday she posted this:
Spinning it with John
Posted by Clare Curran on August 2nd, 2011
The public relations firm paid $10,000 to broker John Key’s appearance on the Letterman Show was Hill & Knowlton, the PR firm that became notorious for its involvement in the Kuwaiti embassy’s lobbying of congress to provoke a military response to the Iraq invasion back in 1991.
This involved creating an artificial scandal over Iraq troops murdering Kuwaiti babies in incubators, using the Kuwaiti ambassador’s family as stooges claiming to have witnessed these atrocities.
Congress bought it, and Hill & Knowlton was rewarded handsomely for their assistance in facilitating a military response.
Even Crosby Textor looks tame compared with these guys.
Clearly this is an unacceptable connection between our Prime Minister and a global (i.e. evil) PR company whose former client we must all disapprove of. I am shocked, shocked – as are many of those who have commented on Curran’s post, some of them entertainingly.

But I wonder if Curran realises that the conspiracy is even darker and deeper than she suspects. Hill & Knowlton is huge – it even has a branch in Morocco – but it is a small cog in the vast global (i.e. evil) machine that is WPP.

WPP controls 20 companies in Auckland – well, you’d expect that of sleazy Auckland – but it also controls six companies in virtuous Wellington, PR agencies, ad agencies, pollsters and the like. I can reveal their names: Designworks, MEC, Milward Brown (Colmar Brunton), Ogilvy & Mather, PPR and Y&R.

Curran possibly knows some people who work for these companies but hadn’t realised that, just like John Key, they are tainted by their connection with allegations made 21 years ago that some Iraqi soldiers behaved badly in Kuwait and that as a result of H&K’s work (spoiler alert: not everybody believes this) the US invaded Kuwait which was obviously a bad thing as it removed Saddam Hussein from his neighbour’s property. (If you can stand to read the comments, one says that Saddam Hussein’s “biggest mistake is that he started serving Iraqi interests more than US interests” – which would seem an unusual interpretation of what serving Iraqi interests might entail. Especially if you were, say, a Kurd from Halabja.)

Even I am implicated. Yes, I have taken Hill & Knowlton’s shilling and hence am implicated in the nastiness in Kuwait 21 years ago (i.e. the removal of the Iraqis, rather than what the Iraqis did). H&K is the lead PR agency for Emirates, in whose lovely business class I flew to Dubai last year to write a story for the Listener. The trip was arranged by one of H&K’s local affiliates.

But it gets even worse. Y&R’s clients include the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Te Papa, the Met Service and the NZSO.

Truly, none of us is innocent.

I just hope that none of WPP’s companies has ever had Labour as a client. That would be awkward.


Anonymous said...

So the Met Service is evil too? Does that explain any and all bad weather?

Paddy said...

Oops - they may be in trouble with the Internationale Secretariatate of Labour Parties: "Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide (Ogilvy PR) today announced that Iain Bundred, former political spokesperson to Gordon Brown, has joined its London office as Director of Strategic Media Relations."
Isn't Oglivy part of WPP? And doesn't Peter Mandelson (ex-Blair) work for WPP?

Stephen Stratford said...

@Home Paddock: quite possibly, on Planet Curran.

@Paddy: the conspiracy deepens, widens and thickens.