Rome 2024 has stepped up its promotional strategy for its campaign to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games by appointing Ketchum as the bid’s international public relations firm.
The Milan office of the company, founded in the United States in 1919, is expected to run the operation, which will see them support the Bid Committee in their efforts to bring the Games to the Italian capital for the first time since 1960.
Ketchum played a minor role at London 2012 and also helped wrestling earn reinstatement onto the Olympic programme in September 2013 following a decision from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board the previous February to remove the sport from the Games.
The company was chosen as part of a worldwide bid process and they will work alongside Rome 2024 right up until the IOC Session in Lima, which is due to take place in 2017 and is where the 2024 host city will be announced.
Budapest, Paris and Los Angeles are also in the running.
“Following an international bid, the Committee has selected the global network of Ketchum, comprised of more than one-hundred offices in seventy countries worldwide and widely-acknowledged for its substantial track record of sports and large-scale events communication,” a statement from Rome 2024 read.
“The consolidation of the communication team to support the Rome 2024 Committee continues to progress and is expected to directly involve international journalists and opinion leaders in the Olympic sphere.”
The news comes after experienced communications executive Isabelle Harvie-Watt was chosen as the bid’s strategic advisor last month.
London-born Harvie-Watt, who has been working in Italy for the last 25 years, will be a key member of the bid team.
She joined Rome 2024 from her role as chief executive of Havas Media Group Italy.
The decision marks the end to the search by Rome 2024 for a leading communications company after it was mutually decided their contract with London-based PR firm Milltown Partners would not be extended after it expired in January.
This was due to the departure of director David Bond, the former sports editor of the BBC and Daily Telegraph, who has returned to journalism as European media correspondent at the Financial Times.
Bond had been the key Milltown official liaising with the Italian bid team and it was ultimately decided that the company would be unable to continue that role without him.
Ketchum’s appointment marks another boost for Rome 2024 after anti-bid Mayoral candidate Virginia Raggi, who remains the favourite to take office, claimed the bid will not necessarily be over if she is elected.
Raggi, a Five Star Movement politician, had previously suggested carrying on the bid amid financial turmoil in the city would be “criminal”, and there were genuine fears among leading leading politicians that she might try to pull the plug on the bid if she beats rival candidate Roberto Giachetti on Sunday (June 19).
"We are thrilled to be part of the team making this historic bid to bring the world's greatest event to the magnificent city of Rome," Ketchum London chief executive David Gallagher said.
“We will rally international support for Rome by demonstrating how this ancient global city will enrich the Games.
"By evidencing the meticulous planning behind their business-case and by sharing the story of the city’s unmatched hospitality and magic.
"Our global team will deliver a real-time, integrated campaign.”