The U.S. Forest Service Doesn’t Need a $10M Rebranding After All

Today various news agencies report that the U.S. Forest Service’s big-budget image improvement campaign is kaput. The news is a big blow to relevant firms because the five-year contract would have paid $10 million.

For context, Metropolitan Group of Portland signed a no-bid contract with the Forest Service last year; the resulting “Valuing People and Places” campaign aimed to raise awareness of what, exactly, the organization does. Here’s the video:

The organization has worked with Metropolitan since 2011 and paid them a total of more than $3.5 million.

The most interesting part of the story is the reason behind the breakdown: email outrage from current and former Forest Service employees.

The org’s spokesman wouldn’t talk to Associated Press reporters, but the responsible party was an advocacy group. Witness the power of networking for a cause:

“Andy Stahl, director of the watchdog group Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics…sent an email to 25,000 Forest Service employees…He got about 50 replies, all critical, suggesting the money could be put to better use on recreation programs, revising forest management plans, restoring ecosystems, hiring employees and lifting a three-year wage freeze.”

The org appears to have bowed under the pressure of hundreds of irate emails after refusing to release additional details about the now-dead campaign.

The employees’ argument holds that the Service should be dedicated to preserving American land, not promoting itself — yet the need for a rebranding stemmed from public opposition to plans that would have closed certain roads and trails to traffic. That’s not all: the organization is also currently accepting comments on plans for a natural gas pipeline that would cut through the George Washington Natural Forest.

Reports include no word on which firms submitted bids, and Metropolitan has yet to comment.