Friday, December 21, 2012

RoboCon: RMG/Xentel/iMarketing Solutions revisited

Earlier this year the Cons' principal voter contact company Responsive Marketing Group came under heavy media scrutiny for
  •  its role as a partner in the Cons' CIMS data collection on Canadian voters used by 97 Con candidate campaigns in the last election,
  • allegations made by at least one former RMG call centre employee that their scripts were directing voters to the wrong polling stations, 
  • aggressive fundraising tactics for the Cons with pensioners, and
  • its merger with Xentel.

In March RMG put out a press release protesting the unfairness of being smeared by its association with Xentel, a company with a dodgy  robo/live call   history in both Canada and the US, that RMG had "acquired" two years earlier.
McMaher :
The company now operates under the umbrella of iMarketing Solutions Group. During the election campaign in the spring of 2011, the merged company was run by co-CEOs Michael Davis, formerly of RMG, and Michael Platz, formerly of Xentel 
As I wrote at the time, what was less clear was which company had acquired the other, with most news reports, like Bloomberg's Business Week for example, describing RMG as "a subsidiary of Xentel" and iMarketing Solutions as an "alternate name of Xentel".

Three weeks ago, iMarketing Solutions Group published its Canadian Stock Exchange Listing.
In the following excerpts, iMS is "The Company".
"On October 28, 2010, the shareholders of the Company approved a name change of the Company to iMarketing Solutions Group Inc. from Xentel DM Incorporated (“Xentel”) as an initial step in rebranding and reorganizing the operations. 
The Company merged with RMG on March 3, 2010. 
On behalf of political clients, the Company conducts direct tele-service contact with potential voters to assist in the assessment and evaluation of political and consumer attitudes.
The Company continues the practice of subcontracting some of its work.  This is done on a strategically selective basis where the subcontractor has superior data in a specific area and/or can execute the work on a more economical basis.    
Marketing List Rentals : The Company rents selected proprietary databases to not-for-profit organizations where they do not compete with our normal business activities. These databases are developed through our normal course of business. 

Re the CRTC's Do Not Call Lists, operated by Bell Canada :
A number of exemptions were made in the DNCL due to efforts of the Company and a group of diverse stakeholders. The following types of calls are exempt from using the DNCL:
(a) calls made by or for registered political campaigns, associations, candidates or persons seeking a political nomination,
(b) calls made to parties with whom the caller has an existing business relationship,
(c) calls made by or on behalf of a registered charity
(d) calls made for market research purposes
Throughout the report are numerous allusions to financial hardship with "substantial doubt that the Company will be able to continue as a going concern" without "access to additional financing".
Equipment purchases of $1,839,000 and $1,453,000 in 2010 and 2011 were "related mostly to the ongoing update of the Company’s dialing platform and information technologies".
The principals are making out ok though, with compensation packages of well over $½ million each  for Chairman Platz and President Winograd for 2010, not including their directors' fees.

David A. Winograd in Wisconsin was President of US operations of Xentel DM since 2003 - now President of iMarketing Solutions.
Michael Platz, Chairman, CEO, and "founder of the predecessor company Xentel", served as Co-Chief Executive Officer of iMS til Sept 2011 and Chairman til Jan. 2012. Now just a iMS director.
Andrew Langhorne, Mike Harris Voter Contact Director for 7 years and COO of RMG since Nov. 2006, now COO for iMS. 
Michael M. Davis, founder of RMG, is "Managing Director, Political"
Listed among iMS's 20 subsidiary companies like RMG and Xentel Inc - half of them Canadian and half US - is Stewart Braddick's Target Outreach for Republican campaigns.

Back in 2005, Sean Holman at Public Eye Online reported on a heavily loaded Xentel telemarketing poll leading up to the Vancouver civic elections. Their questions :
Number One: "The Vancouver Sun today says that the campaign is getting dirty and scare tactics are starting to fly. Does this make you more or less likely to vote?"  
Two: "It says in the Sun that Jim Green left COPE in tatters and with a great big debt. Does this make you more or less likely to vote?"  
And three: "Both Sam Sullivan and Jim Green are accusing each other of dirty tricks and negative campaigning. Does this make you more or less likely to vote?"
Xentel has merged with the Cons #1 voter marketing firm - working, as RMG puts it, "exclusively with right-of-centre campaigns ".  Does this make you more or less likely to vote?


Beijing York said...

Excellent robo-racket research, Alison. RMG has been defensive from the get go but I still believe that they are command central and very capable of orchestrating this fraud under the direct guidance of Harper's most entrusted advisers. Lots of Chinese walls can be created when you have a well established system of hiving off tasks to a group of subcontractors.

Anonymous said...

And this isn't reported anywhere else -why?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know when iMarketing Solutions Group was listed on the stock exchange?

Seems all the investor information has been removed from the website...

Alison said...

Anon2 : Listed as IMR on Dec.4, after delisting as XDM the day before.
If you click the link in the post for Canadian Stock Exchange Listing, there's a whole lot of info about investor/shareholder restructuring in Sections 3,4 & 12.

BY : Good to see you!
See quote from North Dakota AG in comments here.

Beijing York said...

Happy holidays, dear Alison. Hope you enjoy fully with your loved ones.

Anonymous said...

Dec. 26/2012: wondering a few things after reading this excellent break down of the morphings of the Xentel outfits.
Morphings? better check the dictionary on that one, but this thing has shape-shifted many times, and then..not.
1)There is in the Industry Canada site a listing for Xentel DM Inc; it has the same contact name as in the otcmarkets dot com for the stock symbol: XNTIF as opposed to the stock symbol XDM venture which I believe is replaced now by the IMR? is that correct? the IMR or iMarketing Solutions Group Inc is on the canadian national stock exchange. In the listing there, for the IMR, there is a section you can click on, and says what the company is: it is something about being a production company or producer of entertainment events for causes. ?
Where does the odd stock listed on the penny stocks still, the XNTIF fit in with all this and who is Len Wolstenholme and where does that company in Calgary fit in all this?
2)Xentel seems to be listed still as a business incorporated in two places, but maybe it is because it hasn't updated the info in the listings at the Florida gov (sunbiz dot org) or Delware gov, in the business entity searches but you will find familiar names therein. I wouldn't care who these people were or what Xentel is anymore but they seem to be people who want to know about us for some many things, and perhpas even how we vote in our elections via RMG?
I don't know...I am confused..easy to do these days.

3)Have any of your intrepid commentors or yourself, ALison, petitioned RMG/CIMS/tory party to hand over the info in CIMS that it has on you? Anyone else out there try that? and if so, with what success? As in, who owns that info on us that gets put in that database there when we write MP's there on the Hill about our personal government problems or views? Who knew?
4)MP's newsletters: does anyone else get newsletters from your local MP, specifically tory mp, that asks some little question survey on who can best serve you about your issues? and then it puts in a box, ndp, liberal, conservative and you are supposed to check a box and then scan some code thing. There is no NO notation on the newsletter that says where they put that info. Does info like that go into the CIMS so that the unwitting respondent gets their happy or frowney face in the mighty CIMS?
Anyone seen that little survey in their MP's newsletters? If so, where do they put that info?

This issue will continue into the New Year unfortunately.
It is not resolved. Justice is a long time coming on this matter.
I will sit and wonder why into the months ahead and I am still waiting for my answers from Elections Canada on the calls we got from North Dakota. And wondering as well where republican front porch types and US 'business' visitors and small town server companies and tory exclusive server companies and phone carriers with dodgey ethics and all what..where all these people fit in and why do they call us? Why target us?
In spite of it all, wishing you and yours a wonderful time and respite from all this stuff.

Anonymous said...

xentel = shriner circuses

Len Wolstenholme of XentelDM:
"The bottom line is that for the past decade the animal rights people have had things going all their way. That’s going to change."

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