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Gaming PR chief Dean Bender retiring after 40 years

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Dean Bender is retiring from gaming public relations after more than 40 years. That’s quite an accomplishment, considering gaming is only about 50 years old.

As BHI founder and co-president of 42West/BHI, Bender was responsible for directing public relations campaigns for a wide range of entertainment and corporate businesses, including game companies. I covered many of them.

42West CEO Amanda Lundberg announced Bender is retiring at the end of the year. 42West/BHI co-president Shawna Lynch becomes pPresident and will continue to spearhead the division’s video games, esports, consumer products and Web3 clients in concert with senior vice president Jonah Keel and vice president Blake Shuster.

“Dean will always be known as a benevolent leader and a creative pioneer who introduced so many industry-changing ways in which to consume entertainment content,” said Lundberg, in a statement. “For over three decades, he led a very successful and highly regarded agency that focused on the next generation of the entertainment experience. We are so grateful for his expertise and leadership and wish him a wonderful chapter ahead. In addition, we are very excited for Shawna, a very close ally of Dean’s for over 30 years, to build on the incredible foundation that she helped create with him.”

Best known for introducing new entertainment platforms and technologies across both linear and interactive entertainment, Bender established BHI (then known as Bender, Goldman & Helper) in 1986 representing significant players in the nascent home video industry, including Buena Vista Home Entertainment, MGM Home Entertainment and New Line, among many others.

It was in the mid-‘90s when Bender established the company’s video games practice – one that has included industry titans (OK, they weren’t titans back then), such as Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Konami, Activision, Disney Interactive, Sony Online Entertainment, Square Enix, 2K Games and Nexon, as well as independent gaming studios.

Similar to the evolution of the home entertainment industry, Bender steered his clients through new platform innovations introduced over the last 20 years – from PC to console gaming, mobile gaming, online gaming and, most recently, blockchain gaming and metaverse experiences. As an extension of the gaming practice, BHI began working in the esports industry representing organizations such as Team Liquid, Immortals, NYXL, Echo Fox and Tempo Storm.

“By working with a plethora of visionaries throughout my career, things never got dull. I found myself in awe of the ingenuity displayed by these entrepreneurs who introduced unique and compelling ways to consume entertainment. It’s with great pride knowing that we contributed to their success,” said Bender, in a statement. “I have the highest level of confidence in Shawna’s well-earned and well-deserved ascension to President as she’s been my partner and trusted confidant all of these years, ensuring a seamless transition.”

In January 2021, BHI was acquired by Dolphin Entertainment and merged with entertainment PR firm 42West, becoming its fourth division alongside talent, entertainment marketing and strategic communications. I’d like to take a moment to wish Bender well in his retirement.

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