Ruder Finn

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Group.png Ruder Finn  
(Propagandist, PR agencySourcewatch WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Ruder Finn logo.png
Founder• David Finn
• Bill Ruder
HeadquartersNew York City, Beijing
InterestsNeom, Bosnian War, Croatian War, Kosovo War, Philip Morris
PR agency known for its close ties to Israel and its decades of work for Philip Morris. It was also the main agency used to create war propaganda during the Croatian, Bosnian wars and Kosovo wars in the 1990s.

Ruder Finn is a public relations firm with headquarters in the United States and China. It is a large privately owned communications agency, working for corporations, governments, and "non-profits".[1] Known for its close ties to Israel and its decades of work for Philip Morris, it was also the main PR agency used to create war propaganda during the Croatian, Bosnian wars and Kosovo wars in the 1990s.


Ruder Finn was established in 1948 in New York by David Finn and Bill Ruder.[2]

In the 1960s through late 1990s, while representing long-time client Philip Morris (now Altria), Ruder Finn was instrumental in crafting the public relations campaign that disputed the evidence tobacco smoking is hazardous to health.[3][4][5][6]

In 1997, Ruder Finn ran the Global Climate Coalition, a group of mainly United States businesses opposing action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.[7]

In 1999 Ruder Finn established RFI Studios, a digital practice, to help clients protect and build their reputation online.[8] The agency expanded in Asia, establishing offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Singapore, Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

In 2005, pro bono work done for the UN raised speculation when Kofi Annan's nephew, Kobina, worked as an intern at the firm.[9]

Kathy Bloomgarden, Finn's daughter, became CEO when he retired in 2011.[10] That year Ruder Finn acquired Thunder Communications, a Chinese event management, brand and marketing consultancy, and formed a partnership with Kyodo Public Relations.[11]

In 2012, Ruder Finn accepted a controversial contract from the government of Maldives that was condemned by the Commonwealth of Nations for organizing a political coup d'état that led to the fall of the first democratically elected President of the Maldives.[12] Vice-president of Ruder Finn Tchividjian "admitted there were 'diverse points of views' surrounding the circumstances around the change of government"[13] The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group reiterated its call for early elections to be held in the Maldives.[14]

In 2015, Ruder Finn acquired the Japanese business of Kyodo Public Relations, one of the largest independent PR firms in Japan.[15]

In June 2020, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Neom city project signed a $1.7 million contract with Ruder Finn to counter criticism and controversies surrounding the project and its founder[16][17]

In July 2020, Ruder Finn acquired the video content studio Osmosis Films, headquartered in Brooklyn, New York.[18]


In 2004, Ruder Finn was appointed to promote El Al's "status as Israel's national carrier and handle communications regarding the privatization of the airline."[19]

O'Dwyer's reported that the account win was attibuted to RF's "RF's strong commitment to Israel" where it opened an office in 1977. Its offices "in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv serve clients such as General Electric, Pfizer and the Museum of Tolerance," O'Dwyers reported.

Jeffrey Blankfort (31:45 min mark [20]): It is interesting, the [the Senate investigation] files discuss the concern the American Zionist Council, and later AIPAC, had for an organization called the American Council for Judaism – which most people don't know of today. At the time this was happening, Israel was not on the agenda of most American Jews – that didn't happen until 1967. So all this was going on there was a battle going... the American Council for Judaism – they were anti-zionist and major individuals from the Jewish community; they were not fringe at all – and they were battling in the public with the American Zionist Council for the ears of the American people. But they did not have the money or the zealots as did the American Zionist Council.
There was one message that was sent in 1962, the document that you have in your files, from the magazine committee that I want to read for a moment:

This is a very important committee chaired by a man who holds a key position on the editorial board of the magazine business; he knows everyone in the trade, has important important contacts and exploits them on behalf of Israel. He has just returned from his first visit to Israel where the opportunity to discuss his work of his committee with the man in Israel concerned with good public relations for Israel in this country. The committee itself is composed of 15 writers and editors who are eminent in their respective fields, and has built a bank of ideas for freelance writers who go to Israel in search of articles, and provide the Israelis with better ideas about the kind of material that is acceptable to the American reading public and magazine editors. So, already they had infiltrated into the media – the magazine and newspaper business – Israeli propagandists.

Grant F. Smith (33:38 min mark): But an important point: I assume that because this was filed along with a proposal of Ruder and Finn, a lobbying organization, which became in fact a registered lobbyist for the Israeli government for economic development. I assume that they have may been referring to the founder, Mr. Finn himself. And that kind of shows the business model that was emerging, that you could be a public voice and you could contribute in other ways, and be paid by the Israeli government for your activities.

War propaganda in Yugoslavia

Ruder Finn was awarded the Silver Medal of the Public Relations Society of America in the category "crisis communication". This related to its work assisting Croatia/Bosnia sell the war in the Balkans to the American public and create the basis for the US bombing Serbia.

Diana Johnstone wrote the following of Ruder Finn's propaganda work during the breaking up of Yugoslavia:

Creating a Public Opinion

On 7 July 1991, under the auspices of the European Community, the leaders of Slovenia and Croatia agreed (in the so-called "Brioni Declaration") to suspend their declarations of independence for three months to allow negotiations toward a peaceful solution. However, during this supposed cooling-off period a major unilateral step was taken in the most decisive of all wars in Yugoslavia: the public relations war. On 12 August 1991, the Croatian government hired the American public relations firm Ruder Finn Global Public Affairs to "develop and carry out strategies and tactics for communication with members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate as well as with officials of the U.S. government including the State Department, the National Security Council and other relevant agencies and departments of the U.S. government as well as with American and international news media". On 12 November 1991, Ruder Finn's contract was renewed to include lobbying in relation to diplomatic recognition, sanctions, and embargoes, as well as briefings for officials of the first Bush administration and preparation of special background material, press releases, both reactive and proactive articles and letters to the editors to appear in major newspapers, briefings for journalists, columnists, and commentators. In January and February 1992, Ruder Finn organized trips to Croatia for U.S. Congressmen. The United States recognized Croatia as an independent state on 7 April 1992.

Many people's first impressions of the conflict were influenced by the deluge of press releases sent to Congressmen and media. Video clips with frightful images of death and destruction were distributed worldwide with commentaries designed to support the idea that the fighting taking place in Croatia was part of a deliberate plan to create "Greater Serbia" by the conquering Croatia.

On 23 June 1992, Izetbegovic's government in Sarajevo in turn signed a contract with Ruder Finn in order to promote a stronger leadership role for the United States in the Balkans. To this end, the agency undertook an impressive array of actions, notably setting up a "Bosnia Crisis Communication Center" in contact with American, British, and French media; media appearance coaching for Bosnian foreign minister Haris Silajdzic; sending press releases to U.S. Congressmen and "Fax Updates" on developments in Bosnia-Herzegovina to over 300 addresses, including the most important world media and parliamentarians; writing 17 letters to be signed by Izetbegovic and Silajdzic and addressed to top world representatives at international conferences; organizing personal contacts between Silajdzic and Al Gore, Margaret Thatcher, and other influential personalities, including 17 U.S. Senators; placing articles on in the editorial pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and so on.

Siladjdzic revealed the effects of his Ruder Finn training in subsequent conversation with the French writer Bernard-Henry Lévy, who had undertaken volunteer public relations for Izetbegovic in Paris. Silajdzic boasted naively of being a "star" in the United States, and claimed that he was able to change millions of votes by merely appearing on television. Silajdzic startled Lévy by reproaching him for failing to exploit sufficiently the "propaganda" theme of "genocide". This showed his "American side", commented Lévy.

Eighteen months after taking the Croatian contract, Ruder Finn was able to boast to having "developed a reputation as the international public relations agency with the greatest experience and involvement with the crisis in the Balkans. Our work has helped put Ruder Finn on the map in Washington, DC, and internationally." The agency claimed to have gained "dozens of close contacts in Congress and among the news media".

In October 1992, Ruder Finn took up the job of public relations for the ethnic Albanian separatists in the Serbian province of Kosovo.

In March 1993, as hostilities sharpened between Croatia and Muslim forces disputing territory in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Croatian government turned to another American agency, Waterman and Associates, to stave off eventual Muslim accusations that Croatia shared equal responsibility with Serbia. The campaigns on behalf of Tudjman's Croatia enjoyed financial and political support from Croatian é­migré organizations in the United States and Canada.

In April 1993, French television journalist Jacques Merlino visited the Washington headquarters of Ruder Finn Global Public Affairs to interview the man in charge of the Balkan contracts, James Harff. Merlino asked Harff what he considered his proudest achievement in this operation. The answer: "Having succeeded in putting Jewish opinion on our side." The image of both Croats and Bosnian Muslims risked being tarnished by their involvement in the persecution of Jews during World War II. "Our challenge was to turn that around", Harff told Merlino, and this had been done thanks to the "camps" story.

In the first days of August 1992, the Long Island newspaper Newsday published reports from its Bonn correspondent Roy Gutman, based on interviews in Zagreb, telling of horrendous conditions in Serb-run internment camps in Bosnia. Seeing the potential impact of comparison with Nazi "death camps", Ruder Finn immediately contacted three major Jewish organizations, the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, and the American Jewish Congress, suggesting they publicly protest. They did. This launched the demonization of Serbs as the new Nazis. In 1993, Ruder Finn was awarded the Silver Medal of the Public Relations Society of America in the category "crisis communication".[21]


  19. [1]
  20. Grant Smith on the Israel Lobby, an interview with Jeffrey Blankfort. 8 September 2010.
  21. Diana Johnstone Fool's Crusade, Pluto Press 2002, p. 68-70
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