Hikvision Hires Ex-Herbalife MLM Scheme PR Director

By John Honovich, Published Apr 09, 2018, 11:37am EDT

Hikvision has hired Michael Gutierrez, a 'crisis management excellence' award-winning PR director for his work at Herbalife, as Gutierrez emphasizes:

Gutierrez's award was for his role in ‘communicating’ the US Government's 'resolution' of Herbalife victimizing hundreds of thousands of people in a 'multi-level marketing scheme' for $200 million, as the US FTC announcement declares:

Before Herbalife, Gutierrez worked in PR for Moneygram dealing with another crisis, as Gutierrez describes:

Following a U.S. Federal Trade Commission settlement, helped develop media pivot strategy for the $1.3 billion company’s various international units to ensure external stakeholders felt confident MoneyGram was abiding by the FTC's consent order.

That US government 'settlement' was because Moneygram:

allowed its money transfer system to be used by fraudulent telemarketers to bilk U.S. consumers out of tens of millions of dollars [emphasis added]

Now, Gutierrez is at Hikvision bringing that expertise to Hikvision's crisis.

Press, Politics and Policy Expertise

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Hikvision's own introduction post to Gutierrez emphasizes his experience with politics (e.g., at Herbalife and Moneygram), emphasizing:

expertise in assembling and leading teams through high-profile complex communications strategies that intersect press, politics, and policy [emphasis added]

For normal manufacturers, such expertise in politics is unnecessary but for Hikvision it is sensible.

Good Recognition By Hikvision

This hiring shows good recognition and self-awareness by Hikvision. Hikvision has come under scrutiny including for deceiving about their Chinese government ownership and cybersecurity problems. The company has faced criticisms from various sources including from the WSJ, from the UK Times, from the UK Sun, from the Voice of America, as well as being featured in a 2018 US Congressional hearing.

Smart Hiring By Hikvision

Since Gutierrez is new to the industry, we cannot opine on his abilities - good or bad.

However, the position and hiring make sense structurally. The type of expertise and personality one needs to defend against such serious global criticisms are different from normal manufacturer marketing roles.

Many people would be embarrassed to be associated with Herbalife victimizing hundreds of thousands of people. And even fewer would tout it as a career-defining positive on their LinkedIn profile, as Gutierrez does [link no longer available]. This signals that he will be capable of embracing the negatives of the China Communist Party's authoritarian regime and control of Hikvision.

Promote Hikvision To Hikvision's Employees

One of the more extraordinary elements of this hiring is that Hikvision plans to use Gutierrez to literally promote Hikvision to Hikvision's own employees as they say in their introductory post:

Here again, Hikvision shows impressive self-awareness. The global criticism has become a problem for many employees as they hear objections from customers and partners as well as worrying themselves about what Hikvision is doing. While needing a crisis management expert to market to one's own employees is dystopian, it could help mitigate employee's concerns about working for the PRC government's surveillance manufacturer.

Happy Ending For Hikvision Like Herbalife?

Though Herbalife faced significant criticism (e.g., Multilevel Marketing: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and the movie Betting on Zero [link no longer available]), there is a happy ending for Herbalife that Gutierrez can share with Hikvision's employees. Herbalife's stock has tripled in the past 3 years, making the US FTC $200 million settlement effectively irrelevant compared to the company's now ~$8.6 billion market capitalization, and Herbalife's most vocal critic, Bill Ackerman, surrender his bet against Herbalife, while his 'hedge fund empire crumbles'.

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