Drug company Amgen Inc. was recently accused of running a website that misleads cancer patients and makes scientifically unsubstantiated claims. The site's toll-free number, which offers patient testimonials, is actually run by a subsidiary of Burson-Marsteller.
In a press release earlier today, Burson-Marsteller announced a worldwide agreement to represent Death. This completes the PR and lobbying giant's successful campaign to represent all Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Pestilence and Famine signed with the firm earlier this year, and War is a longtime client. Death, the remaining holdout, signed a deal this week.
"We represented Blackwater after its wave of civilian shootings," a firm spokesman said, "and of course we recently signed with the maker of Aqua Dots, the child's toy that turns into a date rape drug and temporarily left two children in a non-responsive coma. But this," the spokesman added, "this is the Big One."
The spokesman added that the firm was equally proud of all its clients, and said it will continue to seek similar contracts in the future. He cited recent reports that the firm - and subsidiary Penn, Schoen and Berland - had also signed with Benazir Bhutto's party, despite charges of rampant corruption and the fact that Ms. Bhutto's niece suspects she had something to do with the death of her father, Ms. Bhutto's brother.
"Our new accounts are merely the latest examples of the typical Burson client," the spokesman explained, "whether it's the Nigerian military junta after the Biafran war, the Indonesian government after the slaughter of 200,000 East Timorese, the Argentine dictator who 'disappeared' 35,000 of his own people, or anti-environmental groups that support the destruction of the planet itself."
The spokesman expressed indifference about the bad publicity the firm is bringing to its most prominent client, Sen. Hillary Clinton. When asked whether Mark Penn should step down from his dual role as key Clinton advisor and Burson-Marsteller CEO, the spokesman scoffed. "For who, the voters?" he said. "Where else are they gonna go - to Rudy? We're signing him next."
Burson-Marsteller executives plan to make the Horsemen availably for interviews, singly or as a group. While they're enthusiastic about representing all four, they say they're especially excited about this opportunity to improve Death's image. "He may be the Reaper," one exec said, "but he's not Grim. It's surprising, but he's a very funny guy."
Burson-Marsteller says it is "rebranding" its new client as "the Dark Angel," which they feel conveys a softer and more romantic image. "We envision the Angel going one on one with Charlie Rose, unscripted, for an entire hour," an unnamed executive said. "From there it's on to Larry King. Larry's viewers will hear about his private life, and he'll share the personal values that make it all worthwhile."
"Viewers will see that this whole 'Pale Horse, Pale Rider' thing is a canard," the executive added. "Actually, he's got a great tan."