The latest Chevron Ecuador news is that Chevron fired its $600,000 lobbyist Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, after it was revealed that Felipe Benitez, a relatively new Ogilvy Account Director, gave a presentation to Amazon Watch (the advocacy group that claims to be for the protection of the Amazon, but really is more of an advocacy front for the giant lawsuit against Chevron) on on “strategic communications for environmental defense and protection on human rights” on May 9th.
While Chevron sacked Ogilvy for Felipe Benitez’s one ‘double agent’ act, someone at Ogilvy and at Chevron did not check out Mr. Benitez’ Linkedin profile; I did. Just over a year ago, Benitez worked to help Ecuador and had worked for Ecuador President Rafael Correa. Check out his profile, which is took a screen shot (posted below) of in case it was deleted. I put the relevant information in bold letters:
Felipe Benitez’s Experience
Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide
Public Company; 1001-5000 employees; WPPGY; Public Relations and Communications industry
July 2011 – Present (1 year) Washington D.C. Metro Area
Felipe brings to Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide more than ten years of experience in Strategic Communications for countries, organizations, and companies. He has planned and executed communications strategies in almost every country in Latin America and currently provides communications counsel to the Government of Mexico.
Prior to joining Ogilvy PR, Felipe led a team of communications experts counseling the Government of Ecuador to foster the country’s relations with the United States and to develop a positive global image of the country. Among the campaigns and initiatives that Felipe planned and implemented for the Government of Ecuador were three consecutive annual renewals by the U.S. Congress of the Andean Trade Preferences Act (ATPDEA.)
Felipe also provided strategic counseling to the Government of Ecuador during the country’s debt and bond renegotiation of 2007 as well as during key moments of the Correa Administration, such as the Constitutional Referendum of 2008, the pro tempore presidency of UNASUR, and the September 30, 2010 attempted coup. Felipe also served as a strategic communications counselor for the Ecuadorean Foreign Ministry during the 2008 Angostura bombing as well as the 2009 Honduras coup d’état.
Felipe worked closely with Ecuador’s Ministry of Production, Employment and Competitiveness in the design and implementation of communication efforts to attract FDI in strategic sectors.
Felipe also played a significant role in the global efforts to promote the Yasuní-ITT initiative. His efforts included securing maximum exposure and coverage of President Correa, Vice President Moreno at the U.N. General Assembly and the COP 15 &16 Conferences.
Felipe has also counseled organizations focused on Latin America, including The Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Amazon Watch, the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), the Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
Now that’s the resume of a double agent with a company. Wow, what a bone-headed play, or lack thereof, from Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide. All the time Ogilvy was working for Chevron, they housed a person who had worked for the same Ecuadorian government that helped fashion the fraudulent lawsuit against them.
Moreover, Felipe Benitez played “a key role” in the Yasuní-ITT Initiative to hold the World hostage for money to stop Ecuador from doing what it already does: drilling for oil on its own sensitive lands.
And Felipe was often privy to, as Fenton EVP Bill Hamilton put it “the very latest gossip from Quito.” (Fenton is an international strategy consulting firm Benitez worked for as the door for working with Ecuador)
UPDATE: a number of media outlets have got this story wrong. For example, Jim Edwards at The Business Insider incorrectly reported that Benitez “talked to an environmentalist four years ago” and that he “worked for environmental organizations since at least 2008” – that’s completely incorrect and shows that Edwards rushed the story to post, thinking he found something, even to the point of calling Chevron “stupid.”
Overlooking the insult worthy of reversal, Edwards entirely flubbed reading Benitez’ profile. It’s clear that he worked for Oglivy for one year, and equally obvious that he worked for Ecuador as far back as 2006, and in a communications role, not an environnment position, as Edwards would have us believe by posting only part, and not all, of Benitez’ profile.
As I read what Edwards did, it’s starting to look like a news fix.