BEIJING - The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is reviewing its brand and PR agency support, PRovoke Media has learned, following high-profile allegations that the institution is "dominated" by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
PRovoke Media understands that several major PR agencies have been contacted regarding the brief, which includes multi-market reputation management and brand strategy, including creative. The AIIB has previously worked with M&C Saatchi and FleishmanHillard.
However, it is further understood that a number of firms are wary of participating in the process, given the furore triggered by the exit of AIIB communications director-general Bob Pickard earlier this year. Pickard, a former agency leader at Burson-Marsteller and Edelman, alleged that the AIIB is controlled by the CCP, causing his native country of Canada to freeze ties with Beijing's alternative to the World Bank.
Pickard fled Beijing, where the AIIB is headquartered, and has returned to Canada. Communications responsibilities have since been led by interim VP Ricardo Dunn, but PRovoke Media understands that a permanent replacement is being sought for the role.
According to sources familiar with the situation, the communications leadership role at AIIB will no longer report to CEO Jin Liqun, but to corporate secretary Ludger Schuknecht. The decision follows an internal review of the function's remit, which intends to strengthen how AIIB communicates with clients, shareholders and civil society.
Following Pickard's allegations and exit, which were heavily covered in international media, the AIIB conducted its own investigation into the affair - culminating in an internal report that found the claims groundless and instead suggested there was widespread dysfunction in the communications department during Pickard's one-year tenure at the organisation.
Pickard dismissed the report as "a despicable pack of lies", and continues to maintain that the AIIB is severely compromised by CCP influence.
The AIIB did not respond to request for comment as this story went live.
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