Profile: MSL GROUP

1- Name of NGO:


2- Brief & Mission:

MSLGROUP constitutes a network of publicly-traded companies specializing in the field of strategic communication and engagement. As a component of the renowned French multinational corporation Publicis Groupe, MSLGROUP is dedicated to crafting proficient communication strategies. Notably, recent disclosures have come to light regarding MSL’s involvement in lobbying for Saudi Arabia. Within this context, MSL Brussels has undertaken the task of representing the Saudi Foreign Office and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. This representation has been facilitated through the Saudi Mission to the European Union, allowing MSL to effectively communicate the pivotal lobbying stances of the country to Members of the European Parliament, the media, and various European Union institutions.

3- Bias, Agenda & Motivation:

Exclusive findings from the Corporate Europe Observatory have brought to light that MSL Brussels, a subsidiary of the French media conglomerate Publicis Groupe, has been in possession of a contract to represent the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia within the European Union since at least October 2015. Despite MSL Brussels being listed in the EU’s Transparency Register as an entity involved in lobbying activities, Saudi Arabia has conspicuously been omitted from their roster of clients. 

The potential reasons for this omission are numerous, particularly given the Kingdom’s reputation for its harsh methods.

MSL Brussels, in its role, has undertaken the task of representing the Saudi Foreign Office and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. This representation is executed through the Saudi Mission to the European Union, a conduit used to effectively communicate the crucial lobbying positions of the country to Members of the European Parliament, the media, and various institutions within the European Union.

Interestingly, there appears to be a significant underestimation of the value of the contract in question by MSL Brussels. Their entry in the EU Transparency Register indicates that the Qorvis contract holds an annual value of €50,000 to €99,000. However, insider sources reveal a different picture, suggesting that Saudi Arabia held a primary client status for MSL Brussels and that the contract was in fact worth approximately €110,000 per month. This equates to roughly €1,320,000 annually, nearly twice the entirety of MSL Brussels’ reported annual lobbying budget for 2017 as documented in the Transparency Register and nearly three times that of 2016.

4- Links to Governments/Political Agenda:

The company played a pivotal role in shaping the public relations narrative and engaging in lobbying efforts concerning critical matters relevant to the kingdom. These efforts encompassed: Crafting a defense against allegations connecting the kingdom to the propagation of terrorism. This involved strategically placing media stories addressing this issue, particularly following the Brussels terror attacks. Mitigating the global criticism aimed at the Saudi-led coalition’s actions in the Yemeni conflict. Their strategy revolved around highlighting Saudi Arabia’s humanitarian contributions, effectively diverting international censure. These actions underscore the firm’s utilization as a tool by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to further its political interests.5- Sources of Funding:

Reports suggest that MSL Brussels’ principal client was Saudi Arabia, and the associated contract was estimated to be valued at around €110,000 per month. This cumulative sum would amount to approximately €1,320,000 on an annual basis. Remarkably, this figure is nearly twice the entirety of MSL Brussels’ annual lobbying budget for 2017, a detail officially documented in the Transparency Register. Moreover, this annual contract value is nearly threefold that of the year 2016.

6- Activities:

From 2015 to the latter part of 2017, MSL Brussels’ contributions to the Saudi Arabian Foreign Office encompassed various activities. These included managing the website and Twitter accounts for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Mission to the EU, which also functions as its diplomatic representation for Belgium and Luxembourg. Their lobbying efforts extended to interacting with Members of the European Parliament, compiling daily monitoring reports for the Belgian and international press on behalf of the client, and securing media coverage that aligned with Saudi Arabia’s viewpoints. 

Additionally, they maintained a channel for transmitting relevant political updates from both the European and Belgian parliaments to the Saudi Mission.

They helped with Mission events and set out to organise trips for Saudi parliamentarians to the European Parliament. Their lobbying targets were often MEPs in the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Delegation to the Arabian Peninsula. They also wrote and sent out a monthly newsletter to a long list of key politicians and officials in the European Parliament, the Commission, and the European External Action Service (the EU’s diplomatic service, which is responsible for EU foreign and security policy).

7- NGO Leadership:

Diana Littman is  CEO of MSL U.S.

8- Controversy:

Concealing the nation’s egregious human rights track record by presenting a favorable perspective on advancements in women’s rights and other narratives; and Amplifying its purported dedication to addressing global warming, despite being a prominent oil producer and a notable impediment in international discussions aimed at combatting climate change, among various other subjects. This scenario initiates a substantial ethical discussion, considering that the firm’s lobbying endeavors are linked to a country implicated in the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi and are aligned with a major fossil fuel producer.

 9- Contact Details:

  • Website:
  • Address:USA
  • Email:

10- Classification/Blacklist:

MSL Group’s engagement with the Saudi Arabian government involves taking on substantial responsibilities. Specifically, these duties revolve around advancing the interests of an autocratic regime that has consistently demonstrated minimal respect for essential human rights principles. Consequently, this collaboration has led to MSLGroup being included in the list of entities currently facing scrutiny due to their associations with the Saudi government.

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