Nielsen claims firm outed 'grassroots' client on site

LOS ANGELES: A case study posted on the website of DC-based Glover Park Group (GPG) has caused a PR snafu for the clients whose work it discusses.

LOS ANGELES: A case study posted on the website of DC-based Glover Park Group (GPG) has caused a PR snafu for the clients whose work it discusses.

Nielsen Media Research recently discovered a GPG web page that details work the firm did to combat the rollout of new Nielsen TV viewership technology. That campaign had been positioned as the work of a grassroots coalition called Don't Count Us Out (DCUO).

However, the case study implies that DCUO was actually created by the agency on behalf of its client News Corp.

"This is not a grassroots organization," said Nielsen SVP of communications Jack Loftus. "Now we can say that this is just News Corp speaking."

Nielsen has been in a long-running dispute with DCUO over whether Nielsen's new system undercounts minorities. The issue is important to News Corp., because its UPN and Fox networks have many shows popular with minorities, and undercounting these viewers affects advertising rates.

The case study reads, "Newscorp turned to the Glover Park Group to devise a campaign...GPG enlisted community activists and organizations across the country in the Don't Count Us Out coalition. The coalition launched a grassroots campaign."

Nielsen's PR team created a press release with a link to the site, as well as a back-up link in case GPG tried to remove it. The company then released it over multiple news wires, sent it to select reporters, and "circulated it around Washington," according to Loftus.

News Corp VP of community affairs and communications Andrew Butcher said the company's financial support of DCUO is no secret, but he did not know whether News Corp or the DCUO hired GPG.

DCUO spokesman Gil Casellas defended the group's grassroots image in a statement and added that, "Nielsen is trying to change the topic."

Loftus said his company discovered the Glover Park website while doing a "routine search.

A call to GPG was not returned.

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