ST LOUIS, MO--Monsanto has selected FleishmanHillard to handle PR duties, amid fierce opposition to the seed giant's genetically modified products.
The Holmes Report understands that the company is locked in final negotiations with the Omnicom PR firm after a competitive review that was revealed last month, for a seven-figure brief that focuses heavily on issues management.
Both based in St Louis, Monsanto and FleishmanHillard have a solid historic relationship. After previously serving as the company's AOR in the 80s, FH has more recently worked on branding and comms projects for some of the company's divisions.
It is understood that FH prevailed in a pitch that included at least two other global PR firm contenders. Burson-Marsteller and APCO have also handled specific assignments for Monsanto in recent times.
According to sources familiar with the situation, Monsanto is aiming develop a more cohesive communications approach, in the face of sustained NGO criticism. Earlier this year, a 'March Against Monsanto' protest was held in numerous countries, following a Facebook campaign that attacked the company's promotion of genetically modified crops.
While the assignment will be led from the US, it is likely that its scope will be international, given the global nature of the issues that the company faces. For example, Monsanto recently confirmed that it will cease marketing new GMO seeds in the European Union, because of public opposition.
While acceptance of GMO crops in other regions is higher, Monsanto has found itself battling US farmers. Meanwhile, two US states have passed GMO-labelling laws. The Biotechnology Industry Organization, which includes Monsanto, DuPont and other major players, has said that it supports voluntary labelling instead.
When reached, FleishmanHillard CEO Dave Senay declined to comment and referred calls to Monsanto. Representatives from Monsanto did not respond to request for comment as this story went live.