Bell Pottinger Private (Legally BPP Communications Ltd. , informally Bell Pottinger ) is a British multinational public relationship and marketing company headquartered in London , United Kingdom. It was the largest UK-based public relations consultancy measured by 2010 fee income. [5]

Bell Pottinger offers services such as lobbying , speech writing, search engine optimization to clients including companies, governments and rich individuals. It was the largest UK-based public relations consultancy measured by 2010 fee income. [5]

Bell Bell , who advised Margaret Thatcher on media matters, was a co-founder of Bell Pottinger, [6] which, until July 2012, was a subsidiary of Chime Communications plc . In June 2012, Lord Bell and Bell Pottinger CEO James Henderson completed a £ 19.6m MBO from Chime, with Chime retaining a 25% stake in the business. [7]

The firm has been described as having the most controversial client list in the PR industry. [8] It has been criticized for the fact that the company has made on Wikipediapages that involve or are about their clients. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism , the company was hired by the Pentagon to work in Iraq, making fake terror and news-style videos, against the interests of al-Qaeda for the reported sum of $ 540m. [9]

In 2017, Bell Pottinger fired a lead partner, suspended 3 other employees and apologized for sowing racial animosity in South Africa , as part of a contract with the controversial Gupta family . [10] [11]

History

Bell Pottinger’s origins go back to 1985, when Bell and Frank Lowe found Lowe Bell as a subsidiary of Lowe Howard-Spink . Bell and Piers Pottinger bought out Lowe Bell in 1989, and it was subsequently floated in 1994 as Chime Communications plc but retained the name Lowe Bell on some of its subsidiary companies. In 1998, the subsidiaries were renamed as Bell Pottinger after Frank Lowe. [12] In 2000 the Bell Pottinger Group Acquired Harvard Public Relations and QBO, qui Was renamed Bell Pottinger Public Relations. [13] In 2001 Bell Pottinger acquired MMK in Germany and also The Smart Company, which was merged into Corporate Citizenship when the Group acquired it in 2007. [14] [15] In 2003 Resonate, a consumer public relations company was set up. [16] In 2004 Bell Pottinger Communications USA Was lancé and in 2005 Bell Pottinger Middle East Was lancé with offices in Bahrain in 2009. [17] [18] In 2009 Bell Pottinger Change & Internal Communications Was lancé [19] and Ptarmigan in Leeds Was acquired by the Bell Pottinger Group. In 2010 Pelham Public Relations, a financial public relations business, merged with Bell Pottinger Corporate and Financial. [20] [16] In 2004 Bell Pottinger Communications USA Was lancé and in 2005 Bell Pottinger Middle East Was lancé with offices in Bahrain in 2009. [17] [18] In 2009 Bell Pottinger Change & Internal Communications Was lancé [19] and Ptarmigan in Leeds Was acquired by the Bell Pottinger Group. In 2010 Pelham Public Relations, a financial public relations business, merged with Bell Pottinger Corporate and Financial. [20] [16] In 2004 Bell Pottinger Communications USA Was lancé and in 2005 Bell Pottinger Middle East Was lancé with offices in Bahrain in 2009. [17] [18] In 2009 Bell Pottinger Change & Internal Communications Was lancé [19] and Ptarmigan in Leeds Was acquired by the Bell Pottinger Group. In 2010 Pelham Public Relations, a financial public relations business, merged with Bell Pottinger Corporate and Financial. [20] Internal Communications was launched [19] and Ptarmigan in Leeds was acquired by the Bell Pottinger Group. In 2010 Pelham Public Relations, a financial public relations business, merged with Bell Pottinger Corporate and Financial. [20] Internal Communications was launched [19] and Ptarmigan in Leeds was acquired by the Bell Pottinger Group. In 2010 Pelham Public Relations, a financial public relations business, merged with Bell Pottinger Corporate and Financial. [20]

In May 2012, it was reported that Lord Bell had agreed to a £ 20m deal to buy most of the Bell Pottinger branded PR businesses from Chime, with Chime retaining a 25% stake in the venture and a seat on the board. [21]The MBO was completed on 30 June 2012 with BPP Communications (Bell Pottinger Private) trading as an independent business from 1 July 2012. [22] Chime retained the Good Relationship group of PR businesses, including Harvard, Corporate Citizenship, Ptarmigan, and some UK regional offices formally branded as Bell Pottinger were rebranded to Good Relations. [23]

Bell Pottinger Private acquired Centerground Political Communications Limited, founded by Tony Blair adviser Darren Murphy, in June 2014. [24] In September this year, the company launched a new service at the luxury sector. [25]

In August 2016, it was announced that Lord Bell was quitting as Bell Pottinger chairman to set up an advisory firm, Sans Frontières. He retained a 7% stake in Bell Pottinger. [1] He later (July 2017) asked that the company partly owed its “smelly” activities to a South African client, Oakbay Investments. [26]

The Bell Pottinger Group has been ranked number one in the PRWeek and Marketing magazine league tables. [27] [28]

Operations

Bell Pottinger has offices in London , North America, Middle East and South-East Asia. It offers consumer, corporate and financial, healthcare, technology, industrial, public affairs , public sector , corporate social responsibility , internal communication , crisis and issues management services. [29]

The Bell Pottinger Private Group includes Pelham Bell Pottinger , Bell Pottinger Public Relations, Bell Pottinger Public Affairs, Bell Pottinger Middle East (offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi), [30 ] and Bell Pottinger USA. [32]

Bell Pottinger donated £ 11,900 to the Conservative Party in the twelve months to September 2011. [33]

European Union legislative processes by organizing participation in ” European Citizens’ Initiatives “, a mechanism intended for grassroots involvement. [34]

Notable customers

Notable Bell Pottinger customers include:

  • The government of Bahrain . [35]
  • Currencies Direct : Since 2008. [36]
  • Milklink: Since 2003. [37]
  • EADS : Since April 2009. [38]
  • The RSA Group Fallon in advertising and Bell Pottinger in public relations since November 2009. [39]
  • Dutch oil company Trafigura , notably in regards to the 2006 Ivory Coast toxic waste dump . [40] [41]
  • DWF: the national law firm’s Liverpool office since March 2010. [42]
  • The government of Sri Lanka . [43]
  • Cuadrilla Resources [44]
  • Rolf Harris [45]
  • South Africa Tourism [46]
  • Centrica [47]
  • Friends Life [48]
  • Virgin Media Business [49]
  • Hays [50]
  • Mulberry [51]
  • Birds Eye [52]
  • AT & T Williams [53]
  • Waitrose [54]
Past clients include:

  • Asma Assad , wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [55]
  • The government of Belarus . [56]
  • Kate and Gerry McCann [57]
  • Ali Abdullah Saleh [58]
  • Boris Berozovsky [59]
  • The Templeton Prize [60]
  • Augusto Pinochet and the Pinochet Foundation [61] [62]
  • The Press Association [63]
  • Talk Talk [64]
  • Madrid Olympic Bid [65]
  • Multiplex Wembley [66]
  • Coca-Cola [67]
  • Adobe [68]
  • O2 [69]
  • HSBC [70]
  • EBay [71]
  • ASDA [72]
  • NHS [73]
  • Sega Europe [74]
  • Emirates Airline : [75] [76] Chelsea / Emirates since February 2001 [77]
  • Fortnum & Mason : [78] Bell Pottinger handles its retail and brand PR. [79]
  • Airbus : UK government relations [38]
  • Investec [80]
  • Richemont [81]
  • Oakbay Investments [82] [83]
  • Dyson Ltd. [84] [85]
  • Volvo. [86]

Criticism

In 2011, Bell Pottinger was able to boast of a high-ranking British politicians, including Prime Minister David Cameron, and could influence these officials.

On 6 December 2011, the British national newspaper The Independent ran a forehead story based page is covert filming by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism qui the paper Claimed Revealed executives from Bell Pottinger boasting of ways in qui They burnished the reputations of countries accusé of human rights violations. [87] Ubisoft is a leading provider of business intelligence solutions for the Uzbekistan government. At one point, Tim Collins of Bell, David Cameron , Edward Llewellyn , And Steve Hilton -had referred to “dark arts”. [88]

It was also reported that senior executives at Bell Pottinger told the undercover reporters that they had written a key speech given by the Sri Lankan President to the United Nations , in which he had described military action against Tamil Tiger separatists as “humanitarian”. [89] [90] During a meeting with reporters, David Wilson-the chairman of Bell Pottinger Public Relations-had stated: “We had a team working in the President’s office. Well received … it was a long way to take the country where it needed to go “. [89]

One of the techniques that was mentioned by Collins was the use of search engine optimization to alter Google results. [91] He said:

“Uzbek child labor” or “Uzbek human rights violation”, some of the “Uzbek child labor” or “Uzbek child labor” First results that come up are sites talking about what you guys are doing to address and improve that, not just the critical voices saying how terrible this all is. [88]

British politicians, including Prime Minister David Cameron; The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne ; David Cameron’s former Director of Strategy, Steve Hilton; James Arbuthnot (Chair of the Defense Select Committee ); And MP Rory Stewart . [88]

Collins also claimed that Bell Pottinger had been involved in David Cameron raising a matter with the Chinese government on behalf of a Bell Pottinger customer, saying:

… just as a final example just for you … I’m not saying we can always do this just as an example of what we can sometimes do. Three weeks ago, We Were rung up at 2.30 on a Friday afternoon by one of our clients, Dyson … They rank up and They Said look, we’ve got a huge issue, and That Is That a lot of our products are (The Chinese government will not take it seriously, it’s half past two on Friday afternoon. On Saturday, the Chinese Prime Minister is coming in for a UK visit – can you please get the UK to raise it? … And I’m pleased to say that on the Saturday, David Cameron Shown him the photos of the products. David Cameron, Dyson, Dyson, David Dyson, David Dyson, David Dyson , He was doing this also because he was also in the UK wider national interest. This was a good place to stay. But if you have the right message, yes, we can do it. [88] This was a good place to stay. But if you have the right message, yes, we can do it. [88] This was a good place to stay. But if you have the right message, yes, we can do it. [88]

The allegations of Bell Pottinger Directly influençant the British Prime Minister and other senior Government figures On Behalf Of private sector customers led to calls from the opposition Labor Party for the Cabinet secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell to launch an investigation, and from the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency for the immediate introduction of a statutory register of lobbyists. [92] [93]

Editing Wikipedia

In December 2011, it came under public scrutiny after managers were secretly recorded to fake representatives of the Uzbek government [94] and violating Wikipedia rules by removing negative information and replacing it with positive spin. [95] [96]

On 8 December 2011, the UK national newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported that some Wikipedia user accounts allegedly linked to Bell Pottinger had been suspended. Its reports stated that “Further claims in the Independent of the Independent have been made in the last few years. By a user – traced to a Bell Pottinger computer – who used the pseudonym ‘Biggleswiki’ “. [97] Among the articles edited by “Biggleswiki” was the Wikipedia entry for Dahabshiil , [98] a funds transfer firm. On the same day, The Independent reported that Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales had described Bell Pottinger as “ethically blind”, after it had admitted altering Wikipedia related to its customers. [99]

The Clare Rewcastle Brown , and the South African arms manufacturer, the Paramount Group . The article was published on 9 December 2011, the Independent published further allegations, including that Bell Pottinger had targeted the Wikipedia entry of Gordon Brown’s sister-in-law . [100] On the same day, it was reported that a lobbying firm, including Bell Pottinger, and their links with ministers, [101] [102]

Bell Pottinger: Complaints to the Complaints Commission (PCC) Against the Independent , Inquiries to the Articles published on 6 to 9 December 2011 The Office of Investigative Journalism is undercover investigation. [103] However, in its ruling, the PCC agreed with the Bureau that there was a “broad public interest in exploring the relationship between lobbying and politics” and that it would not be possible to Company through other means. [103] The Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s editor, Iain Overton, welcomed the PCC’s ruling, saying: “During our undercover filming Bell Pottinger executives explained to us that one of the PC’s. On the offensive following our exposé claiming foul “. [104]

In June 2014, Bell Pottinger was a notable absentee from a group of major agencies that publicly pledged to abide by Wikipedia’s rules [105] and end the practice of amending their clients’ Wikipedia pages. [106]

‘State Capture’ in South Africa

Bell Pottinger Was aussi Reported to-have manipulated Wikipedia On Behalf Of icts customers in South Africa in 2016. The company Worked for the Gupta family -owned Oakbay Investments in a South African political controversy, Affecting the company’s relationships with other agency customers. [107] [108] In late February 2016, several internet-based sources were altered to be more favourable to the Guptas. These included activities in Wikipedia, Twitter, chat rooms, blogs and on articles related to the Gupta family. [109] [110] It was considered (by the Mail and Guardian ) that these alterations were part of a concerted online counter-propaganda campaign launched on behalf of the Gupta family. 111] Bell Pottinger was a member of the Gupta Society of Canada . A Bell Pottinger employee was said to have emailed much of the content to a Gupta account for it to be uploaded. [112] [113]

After Business Day Reported That HAD Bell Pottinger taken on Oakbay Investments as a customer, Investec stopped using Bell Pottinger’s services in March 2016. [80]

In December 2016, it was reported that South African billionaire Johann Rupert had also dropped Bell Pottinger as the PR agency of Richemont . Rupert ended the contract after-accusing Bell Pottinger of running a social media campaign contre _him_, to divert focus away from persistent ‘ state capture ‘ allegations leveled at the Gupta family. [81] [114] In February 2017, Rupert alleged that Bell Pottinger had maliciously altered his Wikipedia page. [115]

‘White Monopoly Capital’

On 19 March 2017, the South African Sunday Times alleged that Bell Pottinger was behind a social media strategy, using fake bloggers, commentators and Twitter users, in an attempt to influence public opinion and sow racial division in South Africa as well as targeting media And personalities that were opposed to the Gupta family. [116] The aim of the campaign Was to portray the Gupta family as victims of a conspiracy Involving ‘white monopoly capital’ [108] [117] to deflect accusations and evidence of customer Their’s involvement in corruption and state capture , [118] and To suggest that ‘white monopoly capital’ is actively blocking transformation in South Africa. [118]

The allegations were denied by Victoria Geoghegan, a partner and director at Bell Pottinger. [116] [108] On 12 April 2017, it Was Reported That Bell Pottinger HAD dropped the Gupta family as a client, [83] HAVING Previously-been paid around £ 100,000 per month, [119] reportedly Citing “Threatening” social media attacks And “insulting” allegations that had incited racial tensions. [120]

Pottinger’s involvement with the Gupta Family Was further Top highlight highlighted in June 2017 When South African newspapers The Citizen and Sunday Times published Several emails Allegedly entre South African President Jacob Zuma ‘s son, Duduzane Zuma (and a close Gupta comrade) and Bell Pottinger, pointing To a ‘dirty’ public relations smear battle. [121] [119] [122] They Proposed That Hamza Farooqui (MD of WorldSpace in South Africa, and a partner to Gupta associate Salim Essa) Would blame the train South African Deputy Finance Minister, Mr Mcebisi Jonas , of dishonesty and corruption. This alleged ‘dirty’ statement was formed by Bell Pottinger employee, Nick Lambert. The statement Was earmarked for release soon after-Mr Jonas Said That He Was offert a bribe by a Gupta family member to betray His boss, Pravin Gordhan. Mr Jonas denied this bribe and instead made a public announcement. Bell Pottinger’s Victoria Geoghegan. Nick Lambert, senior advisor at Bell Pottinger, Was aussi Said to-have prepared “key moment” for a speech by ANC Youth League leader Collen Maine. The speech included a quote “Those who want to disrupt the state of the nation must prepare themselves for a civil war.” Bell Pottinger initially denied any allegations of wrongdoing. [123] Pravin Gordhan. Mr Jonas denied this bribe and instead made a public announcement. Bell Pottinger’s Victoria Geoghegan. Nick Lambert, senior advisor at Bell Pottinger, Was aussi Said to-have prepared “key moment” for a speech by ANC Youth League leader Collen Maine. The speech included a quote “Those who want to disrupt the state of the nation must prepare themselves for a civil war.” Bell Pottinger initially denied any allegations of wrongdoing. [123] Pravin Gordhan. Mr Jonas denied this bribe and instead made a public announcement. Bell Pottinger’s Victoria Geoghegan. Nick Lambert, senior advisor at Bell Pottinger, Was aussi Said to-have prepared “key moment” for a speech by ANC Youth League leader Collen Maine. The speech included a quote “Those who want to disrupt the state of the nation must prepare themselves for a civil war.” Bell Pottinger initially denied any allegations of wrongdoing. [123] Was also said to have prepared “key moments” for a speech by ANC Youth League leader Collen Maine. The speech included a quote “Those who want to disrupt the state of the nation must prepare themselves for a civil war.” Bell Pottinger initially denied any allegations of wrongdoing. [123] Was also said to have prepared “key moments” for a speech by ANC Youth Leagueleader Collen Maine. The speech included a quote “Those who want to disrupt the state of the nation must prepare themselves for a civil war.” Bell Pottinger initially denied any allegations of wrongdoing. [123]

Bell Pottinger founder Lord Bell was said to have “left his own firm with key staff members, in apparent disgust over the plan”; [119] Bell confirmed in July 2017 that the Oakbay actions had been a factor in his August 2016 departure. [26]

In June 2017 the South Africa’s Democratic Alliance criticised the country’s tourism board for working with Bell Pottinger “at the Saami time as the Guptas Were paying em [Bell Pottinger] to sow division in South Africa” (the tourist board contract HAD-been terminated, with The board denying this was for political reasons). [124] The Democratic Alliance also complained about Bell Pottinger’s actions to two UK PR agencies, the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations . [139] DA spokesperson Phumzile Van Damme said The South African President Jacob Zuma and his party, the African National Congress (ANC), in power carry out reports Of “State Capture” by the Gupta family . [123] On 4 July, the PRCA acknowledged receipt of the Democratic Alliance’s complaint, [123] and on 13 July said it had also received written comments in response from Bell Pottinger. [126] [123] On 4 July, the PRCA acknowledged receipt of the Democratic Alliance’s complaint, [123] and on 13 July said it had also received written comments in response from Bell Pottinger. [126] [123] On 4 July, the PRCA acknowledged receipt of the Democratic Alliance’s complaint, [123] and on 13 July said it had also received written comments in response from Bell Pottinger. [126]

On June 30, 2017, Bell Pottinger announced it was hiring Herbert Smith Freehills to review its dealing with Oakbay Investments in light of the allegations made against Bell Pottinger that it intentionally aggravated racial tensions in South Africa in an effort to deflect attention away from its client . [124] On July 6, 2017 Bell Pottinger CEO James Henderson issued an apology [127] and announced that it had “dismissed the lead partner involved [and in the Oakbay portfolio] Precise role in what took place. ” [128] [129] [110] This cam follows initial findings from the Herbert Smith Freehills investigation. [128] The Victoria Geoghegan. [130] [131]

The phrase ‘white monopoly capital’ has been used many times by South African politicians. It is not known who or what the phrase actually refers to [132] and its existence is disputed (by former South African finance minister Trevor Manual, for example). [133] [134] However, activists including Pieter Bosch Botha and Black First Land argue that, despite Bell Pottinger’s campaign, ‘white monopoly capital’ does exist in modern day South Africa. [135] Black First Land First founder, Andile Mngxitama, even blamed ‘white monopoly capital’ for a severe storm that hit Cape Town in June 2017. [136]

Propaganda

It was revealed on October 2, 2016 that the Pentagon paid British PR firm Bell Pottinger $ 540 million to create fake terrorist videos, fake news articles for Arab news channels and propaganda videos. [137] [138]

An investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed the details of the multimillion-pound operation. Bell Pottinger has been awarded $ 540 million from the US Department of Defense (DoD) for five contracts from May 2007 to December 2011, according to The Times and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. [139] [140] Lord Bell confirmed Bell Pottinger reported to the Pentagon, the CIA and the US National Security Council on its work in Iraq. [141]

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