Bender/Helper Impact, a West L.A. PR firm, has formed a partnership with agencies in nine countries to provide services for entertainment industry clients looking to expand globally.

Called Surround Group, the venture includes agencies focused on media relations, digital marketing and social media. Potential clients include game publishers, independent film production companies, entertainment-related websites, and manufacturers of consumer goods based on movie or TV licenses.

The general partners are Bender/Helper and Indigo Pearl, an agency in Hamburg, Germany. The alliance also includes agencies in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, India and Mexico.

Lee Helper, Bender/Helper president, said that the common use for networks of independent PR agencies is to refer business to each other. This arrangement goes further, putting agencies in position to collaborate and share their specific PR skills as well as their cultural expertise with new clients over the long term.

“Each company is focused on a region in addition to the best practices of its discipline,” he said. “Several Bender/Helper clients have expressed interest in a centrally managed approach to PR, digital marketing and advertising for global projects.”

For example, an independent movie producer could call Surround Group to coordinate film festival appearances in Europe, Latin America and the United States; game publishers could tap into its experts to launch online campaigns for a new title in multiple languages.

Bender added that the partnership gives every agency a financial incentive to cooperate and perform.

“All partners have skin in the game,” he said.

Bender/Helper clients include THQ, Fox Licensing, Lions Gate and Sony.

Play Responsibly

Tequila brand El Jimador has hired Alexi Lalas, former coach of the L.A. Galaxy soccer team, as its spokesman. Lalas will make appearances at events throughout 2012 and will support the brand’s responsible drinking message.

The Manhattan Beach resident was let go by the Galaxy in 2008 and currently works as a soccer analyst for ESPN.

El Jimador is already the official tequila sponsor of Major League Soccer, and the men’s and women’s U.S. national teams. Those deals provide plenty of pre- and postgame events where Lalas can draw a crowd.

“Every player knows the importance of being responsible on and off the field,” Lalas said in a statement. “I look forward to reaching soccer fans across the nation with this message.”

EKA Expansion

Gary Townsend has become a partner at downtown L.A. lobbying and public policy firm Englander Knabe & Allen.

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