Iceland drafts Burson to defend global reputation

LONDON: The Icelandic government has brought in heavyweight communications help to shift opinion over a global dispute over the country's financial crisis.

LONDON: The Icelandic government has brought in heavyweight communications help to shift opinion over a global dispute over the country's financial crisis.

The country has hired Burson-Marsteller UK to help Iceland with its global image. The agency is working with both the Icelandic Embassy and ministries of foreign affairs and industries and innovation.

The brief covers international communications and public affairs, with the agency expected to focus on an upcoming European Union-based decision that could see Icelandic taxpayers forced to repay the UK the equivalent of about $3 billion.

The Icelandic government is awaiting a decision from a European court that may overturn a referendum held in the country that rejected a deal to pay back British and Dutch savers after Landsbanki's online savings account Icesave collapsed in 2008.

The agency has refused to explain specifics of the six-figure work, but Michael Hartt, director of the corporate and crisis practice for Burson UK, said: “This sits well with our international affairs expertise: helping countries manage issues that affect their reputation and educate decision makers, particularly on economic and political matters.”

As part of a dual brief, the agency will also work for the government in an over-fishing dispute.

Ireland and a number of other states are pressing for EU sanctions accusing Iceland of increasing its mackerel catch, with a well-placed source suggesting the government is looking to speak more “clearly and accurately” about the issue.

The source added that the Icelandic government felt there had been international “misperception and misreporting” on the Icesave issue.

In 2009, Iceland's finance ministry brought in FTI Consulting to help to with international comms for Icesave, with the project brief completed shortly afterwards.

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