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
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
"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