Defend Main Street
Defend Main Street is a website and project created by PR flack Richard Berman for the Job Creators Network (JCN) as part of a national print and television advertising campaign launched on January 21, 2015.
The campaign alleges that the franchise business model used by multinational corporations like McDonald's and Hampton Hotels is threatened by a National Labor Relations Board ruling holding large corporations that operate franchises jointly accountable -- along with individual franchise owners -- for employment conditions. This advertising campaign includes television commercials running on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, and CNBC. It also includes print advertisements in both Roll Call and the Washington edition of the Wall Street Journal. A six-week plan for the advertising campaign included expansion beyond the Washington, D.C. area with regional advertisements, according to Daily Caller.
The website includes the claim that "Unelected Bureaucrats Are Threatening America's Franchise System," alleging that "[t]he General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board -- an unelected bureaucrat -- has made a recommendation that would make franchisors responsible for the employment actions of all local business owners." DefendMainStreet.com includes a petition by which interested parties can "Pledge to Defend Main Street" and "Let the NLRB Know: This is Unacceptable."
Website a Project of "Notorious" Richard Berman
The domain DefendMainStreet.com was registered by proxy on November 19, 2014, but a report by Mother Jones in March 2015 revealed the site to be a project of the PR firm Berman & Co., operated by "notorious astroturf pioneer" Richard Berman. Berman's in-house web developer had listed the site in his online portfolio, and the LinkedIn page of JCN's media contact stated that he was a digital media strategist at Berman & Co.
Some of the evidence linking Berman to the site was scrubbed from websites after Mother Jones began asking JCN staff about the connection, but an executive with JCN "confirmed Berman's longtime involvement with the group."
As Mother Jones noted, the Berman connection "has led to some inconvenient optics." One of the Defend Main Street ads features Heidi Ganahl, owner of a doggy day care franchise called Camp Bow Wow that has actively supported the Humane Society of the United States through charity events and at least one major donation. Berman has spent millions of dollars on a campaign attacking the Humane Society.
See Job Creators Network for more.
Articles and Resources
Related PRWatch Articles
- Jody Knauss, Trade Groups Launch Campaign to Attack NLRB and Keep Wages Low, Center for Media and Democracy's PR Watch, February 19, 2015.
Related SourceWatch Resources
- Job Creators Network, "Defend Main Street," organizational campaign website, accessed January 27, 2015.
- Alfredo Ortiz, Job Creators Network, Letter from Alfredo Ortiz, JCN President and CEO, on Defending Main Street," organizational blog, January 21, 2015.
- Connor D. Wolf, "Business Group Launches Campaign Against NLRB Franchise Ruling," Daily Caller, January 21, 2015.
- DefendMainStreet.com Registry Whois Whois.com, accessed January 27, 2015.
- Molly Redden, "Notorious Astroturf Pioneer Rick Berman Is Behind Business Group's Anti-Labor-Board Campaign," Mother Jones, March 25, 2015.