Ketchum puts 50 to work for Firestone

WASHINGTON, DC: Ketchum has taken on the Bridgestone/Firestone account, following the resignation of Fleishman-Hillard earlier this month, and is expected to bring in dollars 1.75-dollars 2 million a month in fees, with around 50 staffers assigned to it, according to PRWeek sources.

WASHINGTON, DC: Ketchum has taken on the Bridgestone/Firestone account, following the resignation of Fleishman-Hillard earlier this month, and is expected to bring in dollars 1.75-dollars 2 million a month in fees, with around 50 staffers assigned to it, according to PRWeek sources.

WASHINGTON, DC: Ketchum has taken on the Bridgestone/Firestone account, following the resignation of Fleishman-Hillard earlier this month, and is expected to bring in dollars 1.75-dollars 2 million a month in fees, with around 50 staffers assigned to it, according to PRWeek sources.

Ketchum and Firestone announced the new agency arrangement last Monday after Ketchum officials met in Nashville with Bridgestone/Firestone executives the prior Thursday and Friday.

'We came away very confident that they (Firestone) are willing to do what it takes to turn this situation around,' said Mark Schannon, director of Ketchum's Washington, DC office and senior counselor on the account.

Schannon said he thinks Bridgestone/Firestone's Japanese management team now understands the need for more proactive PR. 'There's a very real awareness of how intense the situation is in the US,' he said. 'They know they have to be more aggressive. We didn't tell them that.'

Bridgestone's new aggressive PR approach was evident last week when Bridgestone chief executive Yoichiro Kaizaki held his first press conference in Tokyo since the crisis began on August 9.

Ketchum is setting up a Washington, DC 'war room' for the account where SVP public affairs Julia Sutherland will oversee day-to-day issues, said Schannon. Ketchum will be handling a full range of PR, including public affairs, consumer relations and employee communications.'We've basically pulled in everyone we could get our hands on from Ketchum offices around the world,' Schannon said.

Bridgestone/Firestone approached a number of firms, including Porter Novelli and Vorhaus & Company, after Fleishman-Hillard resigned the account on September 3. The agency was understood to be frustrated at the tire maker's reluctance to follow its PR counsel (see PRWeek, Sept. 11).

Bridgestone/Firestone's new, proactive stance was illustrated when, last week, EVP John Lampe, appearing before a Senate committee, attacked Ford's Explorer as a major part of the crisis.

Ford CEO Jacques Nasser then became more vocal in his criticism of Firestone, leading one senator to characterize the exchange as 'like tying two cats by the tail, throwing them over the clothesline and letting them claw each other.'





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