In new ads by The Richards Group in Dallas, Halliburton battles reams of negative PR with employee testimonials about how proud they are to work for a company that's pilloried by critics as a war profiteer. The campaign has come just as family members filed a lawsuit in California over the deaths of Halliburton employees in an Iraqi ambush. (The firm has lost 68 employees or contractors to the war.) The suit may undermine the words of CEO David Lesar on the Halliburton Web site: "The campaign is focused on the thousands of Halliburton employees who every day go places no one else will go and do things no one else can do. Wherever there's an impossible task to be done, you'll find Halliburton. I'm proud to work for Halliburton, and I'm proud of the company's thousands of employees."
Speaking of impossible tasks, it remains to be seen if Richards can make Halliburton seem like a benevolent government contractor amid investigations of improper billing and questionable work. In one testimonial (shown here), Halliburton's Jay Patterson offers a note about how proud he was to help move 80,000 troops out of tents and into more comfortable shelter. "No other company could have done that," he says.
Of course, a cynic might reply, "No other company got a chance." And Halliburton cynics are not hard to come by. They, too, have a Web site, HalliburtonWatch.org, which shows their own guerrilla ads, including a banner hung over a Houston freeway with the top-hatted millionaire from Monopoly and the words: "Halliburton: Making a killing."