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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Penn’

Microsoft Sticks with Former Clinton Flack for Top Strategic Role

Mark-Penn-Microsoft

Microsoft isn’t listening to our advice.

Last week we learned that the company’s new CEO Satya Nadella was supposedly close to dropping former Clinton family flack/Burson-Marsteller head Mark Penn, now known as the guy behind all those anti-Google ads, as part of its brand refresh.

It now appears that Microsoft will take the very opposite approach by giving Penn the chief strategy officer position; he previously served as EVP of ads and strategy.

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Microsoft Might Just Be Done with Former Clinton Flack

When we searched Mark Penn‘s name yesterday on Bing, using our Surface tablets (psych!) and saw this headline we wondered, “Why would anyone want to fire this guy? His track record is just as spotless as his ethical record!” Remember the Wall Street Journal column he used to promote Burson-Marsteller while he was acting CEO? Good times.

Oh, and remember this 2008 gem? Thanks, Mark Penn!

Now why might Microsoft, according to the story broken by Re/code, be thinking about letting the guy go?

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Microsoft ‘Comms Guy’ Challenges Google Rep to a Twitter Duel

Frank X. Shaw is Microsoft’s “top comms guy”. He doesn’t think too much of rival Google’s attempts to go highbrow in the PR sphere—and he let thousands of people know about it on Twitter this weekend.

Let’s unravel the roots of this little playground mud fight between two of the biggest PR pros in the business: Microsoft, still desperate to sponsor the Bing vs. Google fight that no one in the world asked for, just hired much-hated political operative Mark Penn as its top messaging man. You may remember Penn as the guy behind Hillary Clinton’s infamous 2008 “3 AM” ad implying that then-Senator Barack Obama was too inexperienced to run the country.

The New York Times ran a story on the hire, casting Mr. Penn as a negative messenger who would help Microsoft attack Google with “scorched earth” spots like this one that criticizes the company for ruining users’ search experiences by clogging results with sponsored ads. The article notes that Microsoft has “long attacked Google from the shadows” but now looks to take the fight to prime-time. A former colleague of Mr. Penn’s warned that Google should prepare to have “everything…thrown at them”—including the kitchen sink.

Sounds like a run-of-the-mill corporate PR battle, right? Well, the Times also contacted top Google spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker for comment. She said that, while Google employs lobbyists and PR firms just like its rivals, “…our focus is on Google and the positive impact our industry has on society, not the competition.”

Of course Frank Shaw did not like this one bit.

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Donald Baer to head Burson-Marsteller; Mark Penn to Microsoft

Donald A. Baer, who served as White House communications director under President Bill Clinton, has been named global chief executive officer of Burson-Marsteller. Baer joined the public-relations firm four years ago and has been serving as vice chairman and chief strategy officer. He succeeds Mark Penn in the top spot at B-M, which boasts 73 offices worldwide.

Meanwhile, Penn, who has been CEO of Burson-Marsteller since 2005, is set to join Microsoft as corporate vice president, strategic and special projects. He has served as an adviser to Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, and was also senior strategist for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

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Komen For the Cure Asking Supporters What Level of Apology They’d Like to Receive

The Huffington Post reports that Susan G. Komen for the Cure has hired Penn Schoen Berland to help it recover from the Planned Parenthood disaster a few weeks ago. PSB is a WPP market research and consulting firm with Burson-Marsteller CEO (and former Clinton advisor) Mark Penn as its head.

Komen supporters have been given a survey to see how they feel about the organization. “Perhaps most interestingly,” HuffPo writes, “one section of the Komen survey asks participants whether they feel that the organization still owes them an apology, and then lists a series of potential apologies to test whether or not they are effective. The options range from deeply apologetic to defensive and deflective of blame.”

Sincere, no?

Click here for The Washington Post’s take on lessons learned from the fiasco.

Romney Goes M.I.A. To Keep From Making Mistakes

An illustration by 'The Daily Caller's Matt Lewis.

When we saw yesterday that Mitt Romney had put out a statement denouncing the debt ceiling agreement, we thought, “Hmm… When was the last time we heard from him?”

Turns out it has been a long time and it was by design. Politico has coined a new term today — the “Mittness Protection Program” — to describe the silence coming from the Romney campaign. Why all the hush-hush? Conservative Republicans have issues with him and he’s prone to gaffes. So if he keeps quiet and under the radar, the thinking goes, it helps his current status as leader among the Republican candidates.

That doesn’t sound right.

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Roll Call: MWW, B-M, JCPenney, MEC, and More

JCP's Mike Boylston

MWW Group has three new executive hires to report.
Richard Robbins has joined as VP, senior digital strategist and director of digital social innovation for Dialogue Digital, the firm’s digital and social media practice. He was previously director of social innovation at AT&T.
Dr. Mark Bernstein has also joined as SVP of an expanded energy, clean tech, and sustainability practice, playing a big role in managing clients’ environmental and sustainability issues, creating integrated strategies, and identifying and managing risk in this area. According to MWW, this environmental risk management focus is a first for the industry. Previously, Dr. Bernstein was the MD of USC’s Energy Institute.
And Doug O’Reilly has joined the firm as VP and director of insights and research, a new role that will include leading efforts to develop new methods and tools in this area. O’Reilly was previously owner and consultant at Maypopp LLC, which provided research, social media, and community building services.

JCPenney’s CMO Mike Boylson retired July 1. Bill Gentner, SVP of marketing planning and promotions is serving as interim CMO. The search for a permanent replacement is on. [via Ad Age]

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Roll Call: B-M, PepsiCo, H&K, and More

Lisa Poulson has been named Burson-Marsteller‘s global tech practice chair. She’ll remain in San Francisco reporting to CEO Mark Penn. Poulson rejoined the firm in 2005 after working for Sun Microsystems and had been the lead on the HP client. The four regional leads are Jackie Price, MD of the technology and media practices for Asia-Pacific; Guido Gaona, innovation and tech practice chair in Latin America; Chris Cartwright, EMEA technology practice chair; and Jim Goldman, U.S. technology practice chair.

PepsiCo is making changes to its marketing department. Jill Beraud, CMO of PepsiCo Beverages America is leaving amid the changes. Three new positions, two external and one internal, will assume her responsibilities. Brad Jakeman, previously VP and CMO at Activision Blizzard, will now be the international head marketer of Pepsi’s trademark for Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, and Pepsi Max. The two other execs have yet to be announced. [via Ad Age]

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B-M Launches Global Energy Practice

Burson-Marsteller has launched a global energy practice, pulling from the expertise of 100 of the firm’s international consultants.

Using oil issues in the Gulf of Mexico and the nuclear energy issues in Japan as examples, worldwide CEO Mark Penn said in a statement, “With energy demand anticipated to rise 40% in the coming decades and energy challenges becoming more extreme, strategic communications will be even more vital to success.”

The practice will be led out of B-M’s Beijing office. Leadership for the practice will include Bob Pickard in Asia Pacific, Mike Lake in North America, Ramiro Prudencio in Latin America, Bill Royce in Europe, and Stephen Worsley in the Middle East.

B-M launched a new tech practice, North of Nine, a couple of weeks ago.

Mark Penn: How ‘King’s Speech’ is Like Advising CEOs

Burson-Marsteller CEO Mark Penn‘s latest opinion piece is live, this time for the Arthur W. Page Society, the high-end club of corporate communicators.

He uses The King’s Speech to discuss his work for CEOs:  it takes an outsider to help leaders change course under duress, and how an armful of data underpinning the need for change can establish trust quickly so progress can be made.

Here’s the tidbit that peels back slightly what happens at the highest rungs of Burson:

“I sometimes don’t know how the clients I am working with can possibly stand up to the stress. They are often facing indictment, public humiliation, near certain electoral defeat or other pretty dire circumstances.”

And what happens in the King’s chambers, stays in the King’s chambers.   I guess till the movie comes out.  How about Randy Quaid as Penn?

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