Public affairs firm Bell Pottinger has failed to see the funny side of a satirical jibe at their expense. The Pan-Arabia Enquirer, whose strapline reads ‘Spreading the hummous of satire over the flatbread of news’ was forced to remove an article in which it joked that Bell Pottinger had landed a $10 million contract with terrorist group ISIS.
In a dig at the corporate style commonly adopted by public relations professionals, Business Insider has reported that the article included a spoof quote from a ‘Bell Pottinger spokesman’ reading “We’ve been closely watching ISIS transform into the Islamic State and are now delighted to reveal that we’ll be able to use our expertise to help steer this engaging and fast-moving brand onto the next stage of its exciting journey”.
The article, headlined “PR giant Bell Pottinger lands $10 million Islamic State account” was removed just two days after being posted following a complaint by Bell Pottinger, although it can still be seen via Google cache.
The following day, The Pan-Arabia Enquirer posted a statement of ‘apology’ on its Facebook page which read:
“Yesterday we received a complaint about one of our articles and subsequently removed it from The Pan-Arabia Enquirer website. Following on from this, we would like to offer our apologies to PR firm Bell Pottinger for a satirical story that suggested it had won the account to represent the Islamic State. Although the article was entirely in jest, we feel we must apologise for any sullying of the name of a company whose standing in the international community is reflected in a client list that has included the likes of Augusto Pinochet and the government of Bahrain. Oh, and the government of Sri Lanka. And Rolf Harris.”
That statement was also later removed.
A profile in The Guardian also listed Bell Pottinger’s clients as including “Rebekah Brooks after the phone-hacking scandal broke; … the American occupying administration in Iraq; the polluting oil company Trafigura; the fracking company Cuadrilla; [and] the athlete Oscar Pistorius after he was charged with murder.”
The Pan-Arabia Enquirer was launched in 2005 as the Dubai Enquirer, and claims to get 400,000 page views per month. Its articles are written in English by anonymous writers.