Oscars: Academy's Public Relations Branch Renames Itself (Exclusive)

In recognition of the large presence of marketing professionals who already belong to the branch alongside publicists, its executive committee voted earlier this month to rename it Marketing and Public Relations Branch.
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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Public Relations Branch, one of 17 chapters that comprise the 91-year-old organization, is poised to be renamed, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

In recognition of the large presence of marketing professionals who already belong to the branch alongside publicists — including two of its three representatives on the board of governors, Sid Ganis, the former president of worldwide marketing at Columbia/Tristar who is now a producer, and Christina Kounelias, executive vp worldwide marketing at Participant Media — the branch's executive committee voted earlier this month to rename it the Marketing and Public Relations Branch.

The branch's decision must now be reviewed by the Membership and Administration Committee, chaired by Academy secretary David Rubin, but that is regarded by some as little more than a procedural formality, since each branch is largely left to govern itself.

By last count, on Dec. 17, the Public Relations Branch had 455 active members — eligible to nominate films for best picture and then vote to determine winners in all categories — which accounts for just under 6 percent of the Academy's entire active members of 7,902.

Three members of the Public Relations Branch have been elected president of the Academy over the years: Richard Kahn, Ganis and Cheryl Boone Issacs — all of whom hailed from the marketing side of the business.