Burson-Marsteller is the world's largest PR network, whose past and present clients include fascist Argentina, Nicolae Ceaucescu, Monsanto, MacDonalds and the World Bank. Now they plan to get involved in running Leeds Metropolitan University
An in depth article appeared in Leeds Student in which some lecturers expressed concern at the proposal. Given Burson-Marsteller's track record this is a worrying proposition for many students.
In the past Burson-Marsteller have been responsibe for covering up for some serious human rights abuses. They were used by:
„h The totalitarian regime of South Korea during the 1988 Olympics to cover up human rights abuses.
„h The Indonesian government
„h The Nigerian government during the Biafran war, to discredit reports of genocide.
„h The fascist junta that ruled Argentina during the 70's and early 80's, to attract foreign investment.
„h Communist despot Nicolae Ceaucescu.
„h Governments of Singapore and Sri Lanka.
As far as working for multinationals with something to hide, the following have used (or currently use) Burson-Marsteller's "perception management":
The Exxon Corporation, following the Exxon-Valdez disaster in Alaska, one of the most devastating oil spillage¡¦s the world has ever seen.
Union Carbide, to handle the public relations crisis caused by the Bhopal tragedy in 1984.
Monsanto and Eli Lilly ¡V Biotech companies who have hired B-M to help fight the anti-biotech movement. It is alleged that B-M has paid academics to produce reports saying that products are safe. The companies were advised not to engage in public debate about safety of biotech products. B-M admitted paying the bus fares and lunch costs of members of a Washington Baptist church who picketed a government hearing in the US capital on GM technology, waving signs proclaiming "Biotech saves people's lives."
The Philip Morris company, in an attempt to undermine a passive smoking study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, set up a task force with other major tobacco companies. B-M became the advisors who advised them to "stimulate controversy" about the study. The task force infiltrated the research team to discover what its likely conclusions would be, commissioned their own studies and leaked stories to the media.
Dow Corning Corp. ¡V Company produces breast implants. B-M hired to build up public opinion after questions about safety.
NUS have yet to make a decision on what action they are taking, but it is believed that UNISON have decided to back a campaign. There has been a complete ban on campus of all posters concerning the issue. It seems as though this is something the university authorities want to keep from the students.