Which twin has the Toni?

During a career in public relations in Canada, you kept an eye on what was happening in PR south of the border as well as the Canadian market. You always wanted to be aware of what firms were doing for their clients. A firm watched over the last 60 years was started by the late Daniel Edelman who opened a firm with his name on it in Chicago in 1952. One of Dan’s first clients was Toni Home Permanents for whom he had previously worked. His most noted accomplishment for Toni was the strategy of doing media tours throughout the United States with twins posing the question: “Which twin has the Toni?”

As you can imagine, Dan’s stunt opened the door to many marketing public relations programs focussed on product awareness and sales. When you could measure actual sales of product through PR, contract renewals were always easier.

It certainly works for Dan’s firm, now run by his son, which has become the largest public relations firm in the world. Edelman has more than 5000 employees worldwide and annual billings of the privately held firm are reputed to be in excess of $700 million.

One of the major challenges for the firm is its client TransCanada Pipelines. It has been estimated that TransCanada paid the Washington office of Edelman more than $50 million to try to get the Keystone XL pipeline past the legislative barriers in the United States.

Despite the lack of success to-date, TransCanada must like something about Edelman’s Washington office. They have also retained the same office to convince Canadians of the benefits of TransCanada’s EnergyEast pipeline project that runs from Hardisty, Alberta to Saint John, New Brunswick. And this is no nickel and dime campaign!

Many Canadians are becoming nauseous from the repetition of TransCanada’s television advertising that shows ubiquitous greenery and the hoary tag line that “we not only work here, but we live and play here.”

But it is the more insidious assault that a firm such as Edelman mounts that works on the acceptance of their versions of the truth. An editorial in a local newspaper last week screamed of Edelman’s expertise. The writer in this case does well with farm reports but this one was way out of his league. He wrote about how North Americans need to work together to unify their strategies for our new-found energy self-sufficiency. The ideas in that editorial were pure Edelman and pro TransCanada Pipelines.

Having worked the corridors of both Ottawa and Washington over the years, it is amusing to note that the our Conservative government has hired the Ottawa office of PR firm FleishmanHilliard to influence Washington to approve the TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline while the Washington office of Edelman is doing the EnergyEast job in Canada.

Maybe both PR company offices should pay heed to those EnergyEast TV commercials and work where they live and play!

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Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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