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O'Dwyer's Newsletter - Jul. 23, 2012 - Vol. 45 - No. 29 (download PDF version)

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Theater owners, film studios and trade groups are scrambling PR responses to the July 20 massacre in a Colorado movie theater which has left at least 12 dead and dozens wounded at the height of the summer movie season.

The Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Theater Owners released a statement expressing support for the victims, while praising law enforcement and emergency service personnel, while also stressing the safety of going to movies.

“Guest safety is, and will continue to be, a priority for theater owners,” the trade group said. “NATO members are working closely with local law enforcement agencies and reviewing security procedures.”

The University of Colorado Denver released a photo of the alleged gunman.

Cinemark Holdings, the Texas-owned of more than 450 movie theaters, including the Aurora, Colo., site where the 24-year-old gunman, James Holmes, opened fire, released a brief statement of condolences at the event.

James Meredith is VP of marketing and communications said the company is working closely with authorizes in the aftermath of the shooting, which took place during a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises."

“Cinemark is deeply saddened about this tragic incident,” the company said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and loved ones, our employees, and the Aurora community. We are grateful for the quick and professional reaction of all local law enforcement and emergency responders.”

Warner Bros., the studio which released the Batman movie, nixed a red carpet premiere in Paris July 20 and pulled back the reins on PR appearances promoting the film.

“Warner Bros. and the filmmakers are deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident,” the company said in a statement.

The National Rifle Association, the gun industry and firearm owners’ group which typically stays mum in the immediate aftermath of incidents like the Colorado shooting, said an individual unaware of the shooting posted a Twitter message on an NRA account saying "Good morning, shooters. Happy Friday! Weekend plans?"

An NRA spokesman, Andrew Arulanandam, told CNN that the comment was taken out of context and that the group sends its thoughts and prayers to victims, their families and the community. “NRA will not have any further comment until all the facts are known,” he said.

The University of Colorado Denver Aschutz Medical Campus confirmed Friday that the shooter, James Holmes, was in the process of withdrawing from its graduate program in neurosciences. Holmes enrolled at the university in June 2011.

The school made a photo of the shooter available to the press.


Shelley O’Connor, a veteran of Interpublic’s DeVries PR and WPP's UniWorld Group, has joined independent firm MWW Group as VP in its consumer lifestyle marketing practice.

At DeVries, O’Connor spearheaded the lifestyle strategy for Fiat USA. Earlier, she spent nine years at WPP’s UniWorld Group, handling entertainment alliances and celebrity partnerships for Ford Motor’s luxury Lincoln and former Land Rover and Jaguar brands. She also represented Burger King, Kraft Foods, Home Depot and the U.S. Marines.

O’Connor did stints at the New York Police Dept., Borden and Seagram Americas (Absolut Vodka).


The Harbour Group has registered a three-year renewal contract at the Justice Dept. for the United Arab Emirates, showing a $5M cap on annual outlays including professional fees, expenses, legal, compliance costs as well as third-party payments as approved by the country's embassy.

The pact went into effect Jan. 1 through 2014.

THG will guide the Embassy in the “planning and ongoing implementation of a comprehensive public diplomacy and communications program to sustain and enhance public awareness and understanding of the UAE among U.S. policymakers and opinion leaders,” according to the contract.

Richard Mintz, managing director of THG, Matthew Triaca, senior VP, oversee the UAE business.


Indiana has fired up a review of its mid-six-figure tobacco “counter-marketing” campaign with the state’s Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission.

Promotus, an Indianapolis-based advertising and PR agency, is the incumbent on the $450K-a-year account.

The state released an RFP last week to run a statewide public education effort to change attitudes and beliefs toward tobacco use under guidelines developed by the federal Centers for Disease Control.

The state notes tobacco companies outspend antitobacco efforts in Indiana by 46:1.

Tobacco companies pumped $426 million into marketing in the Hoosier State in 2006.

Proposals are due Aug. 24.


The Haunted Attraction Assn. is looking to hire a PR firm as its membership of operators of scream parks, haunted houses, corn mazes, hayrides and Halloween festivals gears up for the “fright season.”

The PR goal is to generate positive coverage of haunted attractions and encourage people to “visit your local haunted house,” according to HAA’s RFP. The firm also will pitch the association as the expert authority on the haunted attraction business.

HAA has a $20K budget for a four-month campaign.

President Patrick Konopelski wants to receive electronic proposals at [email protected] by July 24.

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