Pioneering Home Entertainment Publicist Dean Bender Set to Retire

Longtime home entertainment publicist Dean Bender is retiring at the end of the year, after more than 40 years in the business.

Bender established BHI (then known as Bender, Goldman & Helper) in 1986 and saw the firm quickly rise to become the dominant PR firm in the young home video industry, representing such clients as The Walt Disney Co.’s Buena Vista Home Video, MGM Home Video, New Line Home Video, and 20th Century Fox Home Video, among many others. Bender also represented Divx, the pay-per-play DVD variant that briefly threatened the DVD sellthrough model championed by Warner Home Video, although after Divx died BHI became one of the leading PR firms championing DVD sales. As DVD sales soared, journalists were flooded with press releases touting new sales records, and BHI was at the forefront of this.

BHI also was known as something of a farm team for studio publicists, with a steady stream of alumni landing major-studio PR gigs, including Steve Feldstein (Fox), Beth McClinton (MGM, Fox) and Brenda Ciccone (Paramount). McClinton has spent the past 16 years in Corporate Communications at the Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

In the middle 1990s, Bender launched the company’s video games practice, which went on to represent such leading game companies as EA, Ubisoft, Konami, Activision, Disney Interactive, Sony Online Entertainment, Square Enix, 2K Games and Nexon, as well as various smaller independents. 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 such 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,” Bender said. “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.”

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.

With Bender’s retirement, his longtime lieutenant, Shawna Lynch, becomes president of 42 West/BHI.