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O'Dwyer's Newsletter - May 2, 2011 - Vol. 44 - No. 17 (download PDF version)

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MEDIA NEWS ____________________________________________________________


NPR, which is looking for a PR firm to bolster its image, has hired Bracy Tucker Brown & Valanzano to fight future Republican efforts to defund public radio.

Despite all the noise from the GOP and its Tea Party allies, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s $445M budget was kept in place under the budget compromise ironed out earlier this month.

Michael Bracy, partner in the government affairs firm, handles the NPR account. He is a veteran of media tussles on Capitol Hill and at the Federal Communications Commission, repping the Low Power Radio Coalition on the regulation and consolidation fronts.

Bracy, co-owner of the Misra independent record label in Austin, is co-founder of the Future of Music Coalition, which works to achieve fair compensation for musicians in the digital age.

BTB&V represents a mix of corporate, municipal and non-profit clients including Willis North America, Longhorn Partners Pipeline, Puget Sound Energy, City of Tucson, Allied Pilots Assn., American Ballet Theater, Girls Inc. and the Girl Scouts.

NPR shelled out $131,666 for lobbying during the first-quarter 2011. Its targets included H.R. 68 to eliminate federal funding and H.R. 69 to ban local public stations to use federal dollars to acquire programming.

NPR spent $410K for lobbying during 2010.


Raleigh-based French|West|Vaughan has established a Hollywood venture with showbiz veterans Stella Solper and Brian Sher, CEO Rick French told O’Dwyer’s.

French says ownership of the Los Angeles operation is divided among himself, Solper, Sher and FWV principals David Gwyn and Natalie Best.

Stolper is the former VP-talent and creative development at VH1 and creator of the “celebreality” brand that became a hallmark of VH1 and MTV programming. She was executive producer of Paris Hilton’s “My New BFF,” 50 Cent’s “The Money and the Power,” and DJ AM’s “Gone Too Far.”

Michael Vick Project
BET's 'The Michael Vick Project'

Sher, an ex-ICM talent agent, runs Category 5 Entertainment and is partner with Kelsey Grammer in Grammnet Productions. He was also executive producer of “The Michael Vick Project” for BET and has been working with FWV for the past six months to guide the off-the-field career of football quarterback Vick, who served jail time in connection with a dog-fighting ring and made an NFL comeback last year.

French formed the venture because “the world is fascinated by what celebrities wear, eat, read and otherwise consume.” That fascination is “arguably the biggest drive of consumer buying behavior.”

The West Coast outpost is to create embedded content opportunities and storylines for FWV clients and provide PR and marketing support for Solper and Sher’s independently produced film and TV projects.


Former Hallmark Channel communications chief Jennifer Geisser has flipped over to NBCUniversal’s Bravo Media as senior VP, communications.

Jennifer Geisser

Geisser held the same title during five years at the Hallmark Channel and earlier at Court TV. In between stints, she ran her own shop, Geisser Media.

Jennifer DeGuzman, who joined Bravo last April as VP/comms. from MTV, has moved over to AOL, said a Bravo spokeswoman.

Geisser oversees all of Bravo’s PR for programming, digital and merchandising reporting to Bravo Media president Frances Berwick and NBCUniversal executive VP Camerion Blanchard.

Blanchard said in a statement that Geisser will help “promote Bravo’s pop culture brand and innovative programming throughout the industry.”

Previous posts for Geisser included WEtv, AMC, CBS Television and DKC.


Publicis Groupe’s Kekst and Company is defending client Pabst Brewing Co., which is under attack by state attorneys general for marketing the Blast fruity malt liquor.

Pabst's Blast
Pabst's Blast

Endorsed by rapper Snoop Dogg, the AGs contend that Blast is being marketed to the under 21 crowd via social media and other means.

Sold in a 23.5-ounce can, Blast comes in flavors such as grape, strawberry lemonade and raspberry watermelon. Since it contains a 12 percent alcohol compared to the six percent alcohol content of beer, opponents have blistered Blast as a “binge-in-a-can.”

The AGs from 18 states sent a letter to Pabst last week to express serious concerns about the possible health risk posted by Blast and the “youth friendly” marketing campaign that is spearheaded by Snoop Dogg, who has more than 3M Twitter followers. They want Pabst to lower the alcohol content of Blast that was launched in March.

Kekst distributed a statement, saying “Blast is only meant to be consumed by those above legal drinking age.” The firm said Blast’s alcohol content “is clearly marked on its packaging, we are encouraging consumers to consider mixing Blast with other beverages or enjoy it over ice, and we are offering a special seven-ounce bottle for those who prefer a smaller quantity, among other important initiatives.”

The attack on Blast follows last year’s move on Four Loko, a malt drink that mixed caffeine and alcohol, and was blamed for a string of deaths. The formulated Four Loko does not have the same sales buzz as the original.

Kekst’s statement for Blast mentions that it does not have any caffeine.


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