Herbalife Management Tabs D'Arcy for Outside Help

Media
by Claudia Peschiutta

One of L.A.'s largest advertising agencies is taking on what could be a challenging client.

The L.A. office of D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles has been awarded the $10 million-plus global advertising account for Herbalife International Inc.

The L.A.-based company, which markets nutritional supplements and weight-loss products worldwide, made headlines when founder Mark Hughes died in 2000 due to what was ruled an accidental overdose. The firm also has two unrelated wrongful death suits filed against it.

But any negative publicity surrounding Herbalife doesn't extend much beyond its hometown, said Scott Anderholt, senior vice president and account group director for D'Arcy in L.A.

"All of the research that we have seen is that perception may be higher in Los Angeles than anywhere else," he said. Elsewhere, "it's a blank slate."

Herbalife last month agreed to be acquired by private equity firms Whitney & Co. LLC and Golden Gate Capital Inc. for $19.50 a share, or $685 million.

This is the first time Herbalife, which used to do its own marketing, has used an ad agency to advance its brand, according to Anderholt.

Lakers Fever

With the purple and gold still in the NBA playoffs, KSPN-AM (1110) is trying to get in on the action and boost its low ratings without actually broadcasting the team's games.

The ABC-owned station last week replaced its usual syndicated programming with "The Todd Donoho & Dave Stone Show," a live call-in show, from 1 to 3 p.m. on weekdays. The show will run through the NBA finals.

KLAC-AM (570) is the longtime radio home of Lakers basketball.

"You don't have to be the flagship station to cover Lakers. We've got reporters covering the games, uncensored post-game talk," said KSPN Executive Producer Kurt Kretzschmar in an e-mail. "We've got live, local Lakers coverage when and where it counts."

Onward to P.R.

Los Angeles Times veteran Fred Muir is leaving the paper to try his hand at public relations.

The entertainment editor for the paper's business section will become senior vice president of the L.A. public affairs practice of Fleishman-Hillard International Communications Inc. In his nearly 20 years at the Times, Muir was an editor and a bureau chief and worked on three team projects that earned Pulitzer Prizes.

"The last couple of years, I was getting kind of antsy and I did look around at a variety of options," he said. Muir considered jobs at other newspapers or going to a trade publication but thought "it still would have been very much the same."

Asked if his decision had anything to do with the paper's takeover by Tribune Co., Muir said he was happy working under the new management.

Muir was set to start his new post June 10.

Death of a Legend

The death of veteran newsman Jerry Dunphy last week leaves KCAL-TV (Channel 9) without its most well-known and respected anchor.

When KCAL launched its three-hour primetime news block in 1989, Dunphy was placed at the helm. He later left the station for rival KCBS-TV (Channel 2) but returned to KCAL in 1997.

"You lose somebody with that credibility and it may hurt your ratings," said Joe Saltzman, associate dean of USC's Annenberg School. Ratings for KCAL's newscasts long have fallen behind those for other L.A. stations. The station has also been criticized for running attention-grabbing stories of questionable news value. "(Dunphy) gave them class," Saltzman said.

KCAL executives were not available for comment on Dunphy's successor.

Smiley On KCRW

"The Tavis Smiley Show" has finally found a local home.

The radio news magazine show, launched by National Public Radio in January, has been airing on stations around the nation yet has not been heard in its hometown.

That will change June 3, when KCRW-FM (89.9) and KPCC-FM (89.3) add the show to their lineups. It will air on weekdays from 5 to 6 a.m. on KCRW and from 8 to 9 p.m. on KPCC.

"It was frustrating, but we also felt like it was a matter of time," said Sheryl Flowers, the show's senior producer, of its absence here. "A lot of our guests and topics have originated on the West Coast."

The show is NPR's first to originate from L.A. Since the Washington, D.C.-based organization is months away from completing a West Coast facility in Culver City, Smiley built his own studio so he could broadcast from L.A.

In Other News...

Paul Sakrison replaced 27-year veteran Richard Rudman as chief engineer for KFWB-AM (980) ... The L.A. City Council approved Mayor James Hahn's appointment of David Herbst, senior vice president of the MWW Group's L.A. office, to the Rent Adjustment Commission ... KTLA-TV (Channel 5) plans to air video essays based on the works of the winners of this year's Annual Stan Chambers Journalism Awards essay contest on the "News at Ten" June 24-30. The five local high school seniors were each awarded a $1,000 scholarship for their essays on the theme "What Matters Most"... KLSX-FM (97.1) and Radio Savant Productions Inc. are the only local finalists in the running for the 11th annual Radio-Mercury Awards, which honor the industry's best commercials. Thirteen awards, including the $100,000 grand prize, will be given out at a luncheon June 6 in New York.



Staff reporter Claudia Peschiutta can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 229, or at cpeschiutta@labusinessjournal.com.

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