Manning Selvage and Lee has been called in to provide pan-European
crisis communication support to the personal computers division of
beleaguered Italian company Olivetti.
MS&L’s London office was called in by Olivetti PC on 4 September, the
day after the resignations of chairman Carlo De Benedetti and finance
director Renzo Francesconi sparked a freefall in the company’s share
Jackie Elliot, MS&L managing director, and head of technology Serafina
Espie are heading the agency team. Elliot declined to reveal the fees to
PR Week but such assignments normally have an hourly rate of between
pounds 150 and pounds 300 per consultant.
MS&L’s recruitment came shortly after the agency had held discussions
with Olivetti PC’s board about a three-month pan-European communications
programme. Those discussions, which have been put on hold during the
current crisis, were a spin off from Olivetti’s links with MS&L’s
sister company, ad agency D’Arcy Masius Benton and Bowles.
The Olivetti board resignations, which capped months of board-room
wrangling over strategy, followed the publication of interim results
showing operating losses of pounds 34.3 million. A criminal
investigation has since been launched into allegations that the interim
statement obscured even greater losses.
The PC division, which has enlisted MS&L’s help, is seen as a
contributor to Olivetti’s current troubles.
Despite holding more than three per cent of the European market and
recent successes with a new pocket-book range, the company has seemed
unable to compete effectively in the computer hardware market. Olivetti
has now said it no longer considers the PC business to be a strategic
Olivetti PC already retains UK-based agencies Text 100 and Vital PR in