07 Case Study

Whistleblower Recruitment Marketing: Aiding Foreign Bribery Investigation

Building Informant's Trust for SEC, FCPA, UK Bribery Act Enforcement


Prominent law firms leveraging international media buying to recruit whistleblowers with knowledge of FCPA and UK Bribery Act violations made in the course of business transactions with US-listed and UK-associated firms, with particular emphasis on whistleblower recruitment marketing in emerging markets.

The Context

The US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, and UK Bribery Act of 2010 were enacted for the purpose of making it unlawful for entities to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining business. To give the regulations teeth and to encourage corporate self governance, whistleblowers, and in turn their representation, may be incentivized with the possibility of large awards, oftentimes amounting to many millions of dollars.

Criterion Global was approached by legal firm undertaking an extensive, international plaintiff “whistleblower recruitment” effort, seeking individuals in emerging markets who had witnessed official bribery to come forward as whistleblowers under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Leveraging its international media buying experience and specific expertise in navigating complex media markets in emerging economies gave Criterion Global a unique vantage point from which to implement a precise and regulatory-heavy whistleblower recruitment marketing effort.

Market Selection

From the client’s point of view, where in the world bribery and corruption took place was secondary to the prevalence of bribery in that market, and therefore, and the probability of establishing a successful whistleblowing case.

Our team of international media experts first executed a thorough market analysis in order to determine the level of corruption present in different markets worldwide. This analysis resulted in a global corruption index, assigning a value to each country. Next, we determined the probability that individuals would be willing to come forward with information in each of these markets. We looked for proxy indicators that would give us an idea of the levels of violent corruption within each market to conclude whether or not whistleblowers were likely to feel safe coming forward with information. This criteria served as a guide for the campaign’s media placement decisions.


Our international media buying team identified three markets pertinent to this specific scope – Brazil, Italy, and Nigeria. Each market demanded language specific creative, anonymous and encrypted inquiry forms, and 24/7 international phone answering services that were accustomed to receiving sensitive calls of this nature.

Before securing approval to run the ads, we had to navigate the editorial and regulatory compliance processes within each market to ensure the ads were suitable for local broadcast. Give the sensitive nature of the topic, many media outlets were reluctant to run creative of this nature. In some cases, this involved working through several revisions with local regulators to ensure the ads met all compliance standard. In many countries, creative compliance is a nebulous, capricious process.


The direct response campaign was a success in each market in which the ads ran, with substantial qualified leads relayed to the law firm. The placement strategy and infrastructure development not only generated substantial business for our client, it established them as expert in an lucrative area of legal practice.

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