Bristol-Myers drops Fleishman after inaccurate e-mail gets sent topress

TORONTO: An inaccurate e-mail has cost Fleishman-Hillard a big-name

Canadian client and caused the firm to remind staffers of its policy

that all written communications, even casual e-mails, need to be

reviewed by clients before dissemination.



Bristol-Myers Squibb dropped Fleishman from project work for its

anti-clotting drug Clopidogrel after the company discovered a staffer

had overstated the effectiveness of the drug in an e-mail message

accompanying a press release. The cover note stated that Clopidogrel was

"the biggest cardiovascular treatment advance since aspirin." Fleishman

issued a retraction that claimed the benefit of the drug was actually

"modest, and offset by an increased risk of bleeding, including bleeding

necessitating transfusion."



Bristol-Myers had approved the release, but wasn't shown the cover note,

which was sent to six Canadian media outlets, said Linda Smith, SVP and

GM of Fleishman Canada.



Smith wouldn't comment on the size of the account, but confirmed it was

only project work, as Fleishman is not an agency of record for Bristol

Myers in Canada. It is not known if Bristol Myers will use an existing

AOR for the business, or hold a review.



Fleishman staffers knew the agency required press releases to be

reviewed by clients, but "e-mail has made some communications more

casual," Smith said. "Our policy needed to be restated."



The agency also has contacted other clients, assuring them that this

won't happen again. Smith wouldn't discuss the experience level of the

person who made the mistake, but said that staffer was not suspended for

the action.



"An error of this nature is very painful to us," said Bill Anderson,

regional president and senior partner of Fleishman. "We are asking all

of our general managers to use this situation to remind their staffs of

the importance of carefully following the practice of prior client

approval."



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