In 'smart' move, Providian hires Golin Harris for PR

SAN FRANCISCO: Troubled credit card giant Providian Financial has shifted its corporate communications and product PR business from the GCI Group to Golin/Harris' SF branch.

SAN FRANCISCO: Troubled credit card giant Providian Financial has shifted its corporate communications and product PR business from the GCI Group to Golin/Harris' SF branch.

SAN FRANCISCO: Troubled credit card giant Providian Financial has shifted its corporate communications and product PR business from the GCI Group to Golin/Harris' SF branch.

Providian, which just last June agreed to pay out a record dollars 305 million to settle charges it cheated customers - including fooling them into buying products they didn't want - employed GCI's SF-based GCI Kamer-Singer (now GCI Kamer) for strategic crisis and corporate affairs counsel less than 12 months ago. However, corporate communications VP Alan Elias confirmed that Golin was selected to take over the account, in addition to handling marketing communications and media relations for Providian's new 'smart card' and several other to-be-launched financial products.

Value of the account was not released, and Elias did not give any specific reasons for the change in firms, though Golin SF had worked with the company on a project in 1999.

'We wanted an agency with a strong San Francisco operation but also a national presence. Golin also had just the right kind of experience and capabilities we needed,' said Elias, who added that the company also works with Shandwick's Powell Tate in Washington, DC for legislative and public affairs, and with an affiliate of Manning Selvage & Lee in Argentina for international communications.

The nation's sixth-largest bank credit card issuer, Providian has never admitted to any wrongdoing in the still-ongoing consumer fraud investigation and class-action lawsuits, stating that accepting the payout sanctions was simply 'a business decision' to 'lay the matter to rest.' Two months ago, the company scored PR points for the release of a study on the savings habits of Americans that it conducted jointly with the Consumer Federation of America.



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