Pushing Back on a Detrimental Merger
Fortune 150 international government and defense contracting firm
In a vertical integration move, one of the largest defense contractors announced plans to purchase one of the only remaining rocket propulsion suppliers left in the market. This purchase threatened to destabilize our client’s supply chain and had the potential to impact billions of future revenue dollars.
The Department of Defense (DoD) signaled it would approve the merger, and the overall mood in Washington was supportive, as vertical integration in the Defense industry tended to lead to more taxpayer savings. The media similarly bought into the idea that a vertical integration would elevate our defense capabilities and savings, bolstered by DoD source comments confirming that there would be no obstruction to the merger.
The merger would further perpetuate the trend of consolidation in the defense space, which traditionally leads to less competition and innovation at a time when geopolitical threats around the globe were expanding and intensifying. Less competition and innovation in the propulsion space posed a real threat to next-generation technologies that U.S. adversaries were already developing. Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and DoD had approved a similar merger a few years prior, which caused serious negative consequences and ran afoul of certain restrictions regulators had put in place as a contingency measure for approval.
We built a multifaceted and bipartisan campaign starting with a counter-narrative, highlighting the trend of defense sector consolidation and the resulting negative impacts. Simultaneously, we conducted an aggressive media outreach campaign to shed light on the impact consolidation has on national security and innovation in the defense sector. We engaged independent subject matter experts to examine the issue and make public statements. We also utilized creative digital ads to call attention to this issue, specifically targeting influential audiences in Washington D.C. and prominent national security regions.
Within six months, Members of Congress and influential defense sector groups were asking questions about the impact the merger would have and objecting to its approval. Media coverage of the issue was pervasive. Outlets including Reuters, Defense News, Defense One, Yahoo Finance, Politico, Investor’s Business Daily and Forbes reported on the concerns that the merger’s impact would have and the growing opposition to its approval. Influential legislators cited the media coverage in confirmation hearings when questioning relevant administration officials. Ultimately, due to widespread pressure from the media, influential groups and legislators, the FTC sued to block the merger, which dissolved the merger plans a few weeks later.