A Hard Sell

"You've heard a lot of Halliburton lately. Criticism is okay. We can take it." Thus opens a new television ad, part of the oil and gas services company's first public PR campaign. With the slogan "Proud To Serve Our Troops," Halliburton hopes to overcome negative "war profiteer" charges stemming from reports of kickbacks, overcharging for gas and food in Iraq, and no-bid government contracts. "Halliburton gets beaten up every day by people who don't have the facts," said company spokesperson Wendy Hall. The PR campaign seems to echo talking points in a leaked 2003 company memo, in which CEO David Lesar asked employees to write letters stressing that "Halliburton makes our troops more comfortable in a difficult environment."