Burned by Berman:
A Special Interest PR Campaign Gone Wrong
Few of Washington’s influence peddlers are as infamous as Richard Berman. Nicknamed “Dr. Evil,” Mr. Berman has been described as “an industry Doberman” and “the booze and food industry’s 6’4” weapon of mass destruction.” A veteran of the restaurant industry, Mr. Berman has spent nearly 30 years promoting the interests of big business through his consulting firm, Berman and Company, Inc. (BCI), and a series of nonprofits. He has a well-worn playbook he brings to fights, whether the issue is an increase in the minimum wage or stiffer drunk driving penalties.
Mr. Berman’s tactics can backfire, as the Indoor Tanning Association (ITA), which represents indoor tanning manufacturers, distributors, facility owners and members from other support industries, learned the hard way. In 2007, the trade association hired BCI to launch an aggressive campaign aimed at promoting indoor tanning and pushing back against the industry’s detractors. Mr. Berman delivered a flashy campaign, but the ultimate result for the ITA was a crackdown by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a $500,000 legal bill.