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WARNING: This site deals only with the corporate corruption of science, and makes no inference about the motives or activities of individuals involved.
    There are many reasons why individuals become embroiled in corporate corruption activities - from political zealotry to over-enthusiastic activism; from gullibility to greed.
    Please read the OVERVIEW carefully, and make up your own mind.






Robert ('Bob') Lasagna    

— An Anglo-Italian advertising man who became the "Karl Rove" behind Silvio Berlusconi's campaign and the Italian Secretary for the Environment (while simultaneously running the press-relations office for Silvio himself). —  

Some key documents

NOTE the advertising agency is spelled Saatchi & Saatchi. He was the European Vice President in the Milan office in Italy.

1988 March 15: Peter Witonsky is a partner and director of the Intel Research Corporation (IRC) which is a small 4-man 'gung-ho' consulting firm trying to work for military, industrial and financial interests.

[Don't confuse this Intel with the chip maker — it is more likely linked to the CIA. The president, Chet Nagle, and the other partners in the IRC all have right-wing and Georgetown University Law School connections.]

    Here he is writing on Intel Research Corporation letterhead to Dr GH Long, Chairman and CEO of RJ Reynolds Tobacco offering his services as a consultant and project director.
As I noted in my long memo-cum-letter of last summer, the "Regulatory Watch" and your various other strategies are all well and good; but the industry needs to take the offensive.

    On the subject of regulation, I recommend to you the work of Bob Lasagna that was commissioned by Ted Littlejohn for Pfizer several years ago. One could learn one or two things from the pharmaceutical industry in this area.

[Edward Littlejohn ran the science scam operations for Pfizer; some via the Manhattan Institute.
      Bob Lasagna was a senior executive with Saatchi and Saachi advertising in Milan, Italy when he became campaign manager ('for free') heading Silvio Berlusconi's 1994 bid to become Italian Prime Minister.]

    I also recommend the extremely elegant studies produced by Murray Weidenbaum at Washington University; these studies form a kind of summa contra regulationibus.

    Since the industry is not about to introduce a scientific breakthrough that will nullify the rantings of the anti-smoking lobby (unless it be RJR's smokeless cigarette), the offensive will have to be other than scientific. One can, to be sure, play games with public health statistics, which are notoriously unscientific — especially when it comes to smoking. But there are other ways of taking the offensive; ways that will allow us to side-step science and medicine. I should add that I have long wanted to take-on the public health industry which tends to be wrong and unscientific more often than it is right.

    In my previous letter I suggested that we engage the anti-smoking lobby in a battle of ideas and values; that we avail ourselves of the vast body of pro-smoking literature that is already extant; that we exploit the intellectual community for allies in this struggle.

    To be specific, I would propose that RJR form a pro-smokers' rights "think tank", consisting of leading economists, philosophers, political scientists and writers. In the old days, the industry employed actresses and baseball players as spokesmen; today it ought to engage thinkers capable of articulating the industry's case.

    I am, as you know, an admirer of Mobil's op-ed advertisements: I would suggest to you that RJR would do well to contemplate a similar series of advertisements, although the RJR advertisements ought not to be anonymous as the Mobil pieces were.

    RJR should commission various leading pro-smoking thinkers and writers to write about various aspects of this problem. Most of these op-ed advertisements would be serious and straightforward; but it would be great fun to employ a great humorist such as Kingsley Amis or Auboran Waugh to expose, say, Larry Hagman for the fatuous nincompoop he is.

[They did employ Auberon Waugh in their Libertad operations]

1994 Jan 18: Berluscon formally files the constitution of Forza Italia, with five founding members. The platform is written by Paolo De Debbio, the Director of Studies Centre of Finivest — the Berlusconi holding company.

    The campaign is planned by a team of marketing and communications experts of Finivest coordinated by Alessio Goria (Director of ILR) and Roberto Lasagna, former managing director of Saatchi & Saatchi.

    The campaign can count on three TV stations, and the personalities of the channels are mobilized for Forza Italia. Two massive advertising campaigns are run.

1994 Mar 27: -28 Forza Italia with 21% of the votes was the first party with two center-right coalition partners, they won. Berlusconi is elected prime-ministerBob Lasagna, a former Forza Italia member of parliament,for Milan South

1994 Mar 19: The Independent article "Berlusconi's Message on the media takes Italy by storm:"

[Berlusconi] has refused to meet left-wing leaders on TV, or even potentially uncomfortable adversaries such as the correspondent of the Economist, which has sharply criticised him, and Professor Victor Uckmar, a leading taxation expert.

    'Why should he? He does not have to,' says Robert Lasagna, his Anglo-Italian campaign manager. His opponents' attacks are 'violent and personal. They have dredged up as much mud as they could. There is no argument.' At the same time, Mr Lasagna claims, the criticism has brought Mr Berlusconi popularity he might otherwise have lacked. 'The enemy has succeeded in doing what we could never have done by attacking him. People tell him how grossly unfair, how unjust, how stupid it is, how he is obviously innocent.'

    Argument, however, is not the key feature of the Berlusconi campaign either. It is, as Mr Lasagna stresses, the Message, simple, seductive, repetitive: the promise of a new Italian miracle, of wealth, efficiency, good government, family values. Of lower taxes but also a lower state deficit, of problems such as spending on the health service, for instance, quickly solved by the simple use of vouchers, to be spent at will either in the public or the private health system. And the need to keep the 'Communists' out of power — a point that ignores the fact that, apart from a smallish hardline splinter group, the former Communists are now a moderate, social democratic-style party.

    Italians, who voted in the past out of ideology, religion, family tradition or in exchange for personal benefits, are now being sold the Message as if it were processed cheese. Intellectuals may be repelled by the commercial-style TV spots, the jingles, the eternal Berlusconi smile, the artificiality of it all, but who cares? It works. In just a few weeks, polls show, Forza Italia has become the biggest party.

    The campaign was set up and running in less than a month by Mr Lasagna, a former board member and senior executive of Saatchi and Saatchi Advertising, who says he is doing it for free.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/ber (etc.)

1994 Apr 2: Profile: Italy's arch seducer: Silvio Berlusconi.

'He has been proved right once again because Silvio's the greatest salesman,' said Fedele Confalonieri, one of Berlusconi's associates. 'Italians wanted a new political party. He created it in three months and he sold it to them.'

    Silvio Berlusconi has not yet revealed the style in which he intends to govern Italy but his second wife, the actress Veronica Lario, seems sure enough. 'I believe that in this election it was the man who won,' she said. 'People voted for Silvio Berlusconi, they rewarded the life story of this man. It's not a victory of the right wing, it's a victory of the man. People don't believe in political parties any more. They want men of calibre to believe in.'

    It is possible that Bob Lasagna, the genius from Saatchi & Saatchi who masterminded the Berlusconi campaign, might have welcomed the chance to rewrite these unscripted observations by the wife of the man likely to become the next Prime Minister of the Italian Republic.

    But in her striking way, Ms Lario has unerringly illuminated the philosophy - if such it is - that lay behind her husband's stunning victory. It was a triumph built on dreams, promises, relentless optimism, a soothing manner and plausible charm. Berlusconi showed Italians a lifestyle that many people's fantasies are made of: fast cars, luxurious homes, five children (two by his first wife, three by Ms Lario) and a business empire built around television stations on which glamorous women pout and disrobe. There are many nicknames for Berlusconi but the best came in a Rome newspaper headline last week which dubbed him 'The Great Seducer'.

    The Great Seducer understands his countrymen, or at least a section of them, with gifted insight. It is not the Italy that gave the world Garibaldi or Michelangelo. Berlusconi grasped instinctively the truth so apparent to the ad men who crafted the winning Tory campaigns in Britain. He identified a section of the population who aspired chiefly to greater material gain. He talked of lower taxes and easy reward. He disdained the political and intellectual elite, simply vaulting over them directly on to his own TV screens. His most brilliant stroke was to organise his campaign as a series of clubs, just like the AC Milan supporters' clubs. Football, television and consumer goods sum up the Berlusconi credo. And he called his movement simply 'Forza Italia'. The best translation in English for Forza is the most colloquial: 'Go for it]'
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/profile-italy (etc.)

1994 May 10: The Belusconi government; Chamber of Deputies

  • Ministry of Culture and Environment — Domineico Fisichella
  • Minister of Environment — Matteoli
  • Secretary - Roberto Lasagna

1994: Italian advertising magazine
    New elections, Silvio Berlusconi wins. The long campaign will go down history for several reasons: both tones modern communications, expertly used by the founder of the group Fininvest is a kind of hysteria and rampant violence that characterizes the parties (this trend inaugurated with Tangentopoli but experience with this elections).

Bob Lasagna, ex-Vice President you European Saatchi & Saatchi, which has handled the campaigns of the new premier, became Secretary for the Environment

1994 Sep 26: Bob Lasagna, one of Berlusconi's campaign advisers doing an interview for the BBC's Late Show. http://das.sagepub.com/content/7/2/243.full.pdf

2000: Wrote and Published a book on Al Pacino (I grandi del cinema) in Italian. Publisher: Gremese Editore Published Date: 2000 ISBN-10: [8877424273] ISBN-13: [9788877424273]

2001 May 10: BBC News The Northern [anti-imigrant] League

The Northern League has been holding anti-immigration rallies throughout northern Italy during the election campaign. Speakers at these rallies often read aloud lists of crimes committed by immigrants to cheers from the crowd.

    If [Berlusconi] wins by a large majority then the League will be less important and may even fade away altogether, but if his lead is narrower, then he will have to rely on the support of the League to survive in government.

    However Berlusconi will be keen to avoid a repeat performance of 1994 when the League caused the collapse of Berlusconi's government by pulling out. This time he has promised Bossi [head of the League] tougher action on immigration.

    Bob Lasagna, a former Forza Italia member of parliament, predicts a rough ride for Berlusconi if he does not keep his word. "Berlusconi will definitely be pushed by Bossi to push the whole problem of immigration. Even if part of northern Italy is screaming for workers, the selection process required by the Northern League will be a new element.

    "No more open frontiers, no more open house and a different kind of immigrant, not these difficult bands of Albanians," he predicts.

1994 Nov 22: indictment of Berlusconi in Naples for an international summit for the payment of bribes, kickbacks to the police finance by Fininvest.

1994 Dec 22: Berlusconi's government resigned when the anti-imigration Northern League caused the collapse of Berlusconi's government by pulling out.

2003 July 16: BBC News "Berlusconi skips his own question time." It's been a rocky few weeks for Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi - what with a mighty spat with Germany, deep cracks in his coalition and a row over immunity. But Mr Berlusconi has also been under pressure over an entirely separate issue — prime minister's questions.

    Mr Berlusconi hasn't attended a single session during his two years in office.

    Robert Lasagna, who was undersecretary of state for the environment during Mr Berlusconi's first government, says the Italian prime minister has his own way of communicating with the people. "He prefers going on television to having a verbal punch-up with very aggressive centre-left elected senators or MPs," he says.

    A political institution as British as prime minister's questions was never going to work in Italy, he says. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3069271.stm



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