homelandThe American “Politico” website has revealed that the “Edelman” company, which is considered one of the most important liaison companies in the United States and the world, proposed to Saudi Arabia to help him improve his image by celebrities, music festivals, and comedy shows.
The US website said in a report that Saudi Arabia was trying to change stereotypes about it in the West, especially after the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who made him flee to Edelman Company to play this role.
The US website confirmed that it had submitted a plan consisting of 109 slides not previously announced by law to the Department of Justice in June, and that plan includes a campaign called “Search Beyond” for a period of five years in.
In this regard, Edelman has formed a partnership with MTV in addition to collaborating with major institutions and bodies, and it has been proposed to include international celebrities such as Priyanka Chopra and DJ David Guetta on the field togra.
Get rid of pariah status
The plan, presented in Arabic, shows how far the Saudis were willing to go to get rid of the “pariah” status in which U.S. President Joe Biden and others placed themselves in the wake of Khashoggi’s assassination.
Through this campaign, the Saudis will develop partnerships with celebrities and seek opportunities that could lead to international film productions being filmed throughout the Kingdom, and broadcast some episodes of major American entertainment programs from across the Kingdom, including “The Daily Show.”
A company spokesman said they would be charged $ 787,000 for the campaign, adding: “Because the agreements are confidential with all of our customers, we cannot comment outside of publicly available information.”
Saudi Arabia has spent large sums of money to improve its image internationally. These include sponsoring a new International Golf Tournament (LAV) and attracting big stars to take part, such as Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, as well as the purchase of English club Newcastle last year.
Previous work history between the company and Saudi Arabia
According to the website, Edelman has a history of working in and with Saudi Arabia. In 2020, Edelman registered with the Ministry of Justice to represent the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation, a company that manufactures chemicals and other materials mainly owned by the Saudi government, in a deal worth about $ 6.7 million. .
She has also done liaison work for NEOM, which is working to develop the “smart city” within the 2030 vision launched by the Saudi Crown Prince, but the current contract with Riyadh is perhaps one of the most lucrative among his partnerships with the Kingdom in last few years.
The effect of money on celebrities
The website quoted Brian Lanza, the former communications director for former US President Donald Trump’s transition team, as saying that these types of partnerships between governments and celebrities are becoming more frequent.
And he added: “You can not ignore the effect of money. Celebrities these days will make more money to promote a foreign government than to make a movie.”
In turn, see Ben Freeman, a scholar at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Government. “I think the campaigns (led by PR firms and celebrities) are a big part of why Biden was able to make this journey.”
“It became possible because of companies like Edelman and other people working for the Saudis,” he explained.
In addition to targeting an audience in the United States, the Search Beyond campaign will target markets in the Middle East, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and other parts of the world, and. It seems that influencers and the use of social media will be an essential part of this effort.
Create an influencer base
As part of the campaign, the kingdom will create a physical influencer base, known as House Beyond, which will likely be broadcast from MTV.
The plan slides indicated that the company was already in the process of launching a partnership with the International Arts Festival (Art Basel) for inclusion in the Search Beyond campaign, and that it could do the same with the Coachella, Bonaro and Southwest festivals. .
Edelman also suggested that, among other things, the Saudis are a partner of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But the museum’s chief communications officer, Ken Wynne, said he was not aware of the company’s proposal, and did not respond when asked if the museum would accept the Saudi money.
The campaign proposes that Saudi Arabia develop partnerships with international celebrities and large institutions and seize opportunities that could lead to productions being filmed across the Kingdom, although the plan indicated that there are some obstacles to improving its image, such as “lack to cultural diversity and respect for differences. ”
Indian actress Priyanka Chopra
A former employee of the company, who refused to be identified, indicated that the choice of celebrities such as actress Priyanka Chopper, who is characterized by feminist activism to enhance the Kingdom’s image, is likely to be strategic, and pointed out that the Kingdom has tried to win over a female audience amid years of criticism of its record on women’s rights. .