Breakfast Briefing: 5 things for PR pros to know on Thursday morning

Unilever vet Keith Weed to join WPP's board; Area 51 parties to feature Arby's, Bud Light and Kool-Aid: Oh, yeah or oh, no?

Unilever vet Keith Weed is joining WPP’s board. Weed, who retired from his role as Unilever’s chief marketing and comms officer in May, will be a non-executive director on WPP’s board and starts on November 1. He worked with WPP while at Unilever, where he served for 35 years.

Ruder Finn has acquired SPI Group. SPI is a healthcare internal comms agency, which counts Bayer, Merck, Regeneron, LabCorp and Pfizer among its clients. Ruder Finn CEO Kathy Bloomgarden gave PRWeek all the details about the deal.

Leaders from 15 U.S. travel corporations to Washington: Reauthorize Brand USA. Execs from Marriott, American Express, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and Carnival Cruise Line, among other companies, issued a joint statement on Wednesday urging the U.S. government to renew federal funding of Brand USA, which promotes the U.S. as a travel destination. Brand USA receives a part of the fees collected from foreign visitors, but the U.S. Congress approved a budget agreement in 2018 to divert this away from the program.

AT&T may "part ways" with DirecTV, according to The Wall Street Journal. The telecom giant has also considered spinning off DirecTV into a separate company, as well as merging DirecTV’s assets with satellite-TV company Dish Network, reported WSJ. This follows news from earlier this week that AT&T was sued by a group of investors for allegedly creating fake DirecTV Now accounts and artificially inflating subscriber figures for the streaming service. AT&T's total number of video subscribers dropped from 25.4 million in Q2 2018 to 22.9 million in Q2 2019, and AT&T told investors last week that it expects to lose another 1.1 million TV customers in Q3.

Remember the "Storm Area 51" Facebook event? Even though the creator canceled the original event, which called on people to meet at Area 51 on September 20 to "see them aliens,"  Nevada desert towns are prepping for a possible influx of people over the next few days. Arby’s Roadside Meathouse food truck will serve up a "top secret menu" at the Storm Area 51 Basecamp event in Hiko. Meanwhile, Bud Light is sponsoring the Area 51 Celebration in Las Vegas on Thursday. And Kool-Aid was inspired to create a limited-edition "UFO-Yeah Intergalactic Green" canister. Oh, yeah or oh, no?

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