EXCLUSIVE: The labor battle between the Ryan Seacrest Productions series and the Motion Picture Editors Guild has moved into a whole new arena. While still manning the picket line in front of RSP’s Miracle Mile offices, the IATSE Local 700 has now set its sights on Bravo’s bottom line by focusing on advertisers and sponsors of Shahs Of Sunset, I’ve learned.
“We encourage you to advise your clients that we retain our right to communicate with our members, members of affiliated organizations, and the public at large about those brands sponsoring the conduct of entities with which we have a labor dispute,” said a letter from the Editors Guild that went out to big ad agencies this week.
The September 18 correspondence was sent to Wieden + Kennedy and nearly a dozen more top ad shops who “may have purchased advertising time on the Bravo television network, possibly including advertising scheduled to air during the forthcoming fourth season of Shahs of Sunset.” Lucrative Wieden + Kennedy clients such as Procter & Gamble, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, and Honda all advertise on Bravo. In fact, the network cites them in its sales pitch documents. The Editor’s Guild said they had no comment on the correspondence. The National Labor Relations Act prevents such “secondary employers” as advertisers are considered in such circumstances from being picketed as RSP. However, the NLRA doesn’t stop the Editors Guild from making sure that it does everything it can to link brands to the dispute with Bravo and Shahs of Sunset.
Unused by the IATSE Local in recent previous unscripted show actions, this potentially seismic shift in strategy comes just over a week since the 16-member postproduction crew of the reality show walked off the job in search of a union contract with RSP subsidiary Berne Productions Inc. Like the Guild’s successful Survivor labor action of last month, the Shahs post crew members are primarily seeking health and pension benefits. As picket lines went up, Bravo pulled the October 13 S4 debut date.
“The new airdate has yet to be determined,” said the cable network on September 11. Since then the strike has been a stand off. Earlier this week, the strikers erected a giant inflatable Scabby The Rat on Wilshire Blvd in an effort to shame Seacrest and his production company. Yet, still no talks. To end the impasse, sources tell me that the IATSE Local believes that brand concerns by advertisers over potential negative publicity for their associations with Bravo and NBCUniversal will nudge the resisting parties to the negotiating table. With that in mind, approximately 20 picketers were out today today chanting “no contract, no work!”