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Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Hires Gawker Head of Video Production Sarah Ramey

Todd Spangler

The digital media group of Margaritaville Enterprises, the hospitality, merchandise and media firm based on the carefree lifestyle invoked by Jimmy Buffett’s music, has made three key hires including Sarah Ramey, formerly in charge of video production and development for Gawker, as head of content.

Margaritaville Media, led by former YouTube exec Laura Lee, also has tapped Sam Keene, who previously worked at NASCAR and Red Bull, as head of digital marketing and platforms; and Talar Sarkissian, formerly with mobile-video app startup SpeakUp, as head of business development and operations. All three report to Lee, president of Margaritaville Media and chief digital officer.

Under the direction of Lee, Margaritaville Media is attempting to expand the reach of the Buffett-inspired brand to younger demographics with video series, editorial and branded content, as well as immersive digital experiences.

“With Sarah’s deep content capabilities across digital, TV and film, Sam’s proven leadership in building digital audiences for lifestyle brands and Talar’s strong operational experience, we are perfectly positioned to take Margaritaville Media to the next level and grow our company’s social presence,” Lee said in announcing the hires. “We look forward to creating fun and escapist content that continues to inspire our younger fans to embrace the Margaritaville lifestyle.”

Ramey, who has a background in film, TV and digital content, oversees all editorial and video content development for Margaritaville. Her first major project will be the development of a series of travel-oriented videos. Ramey left Gawker in May, prior to the company last month filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, after it lost a $140 million judgment in an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit filed by Hulk Hogan (who was bankrolled by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel) over the site’s posting of a sex video.

Prior to joining Gawker in January 2014, Ramey was head of development and production at Edward R. Pressman Film Corp., where she managed and developed its full slate of film and TV projects. Her credits include IFC film “The Man Who Knew Infinity” starring Jeremy Irons and Dev Patel, Mary Harron’s “Moth Diaries,” Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” and Werner Herzog’s “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.”

Keene will spearhead the design and development of Margaritaville’s digital presence and develop marketing strategies to grow the brand’s audience, as well as expanding its social footprint, and has relaunched the Margaritaville blog since joining the company in May. Previously, he built NASCAR’s social presence across multiple platforms and was one of the first employees of Red Bull Media House North America where he oversaw development of athlete and event websites including Travis Pastrana, James Stewart, Red Bull X-Fighters, Air Race and “Stratos: Mission to the Edge of Space.”

Sarkissian is responsible for identifying and establishing new business integrations and ensuring data integrity for Margaritaville Media. The multilingual exec will focus on driving audience engagement and growth, with a particular emphasis on millennials, through the curation and syndication of content across Margaritaville’s global network and on Margaritaville.com. Before joining Margaritaville, Sarkissian was COO for SpeakUp and before that led transformation projects at Banco Santander to revamp the company’s credit card risk platforms, portfolio management, sales and marketing efforts.

Margaritaville, which launched its first restaurant in Key West, Fla., in 1987, now encompasses retail shops, products, hotels, resorts and media businesses. The company’s media operations include Radio Margaritaville on Sirius XM and Margaritaville.tv, which features live broadcasts of Buffett concerts and other content. This summer, Margaritaville Media plans to launch a casual game app, created with FunPlus, to let fans explore Margaritaville-themed experiences in “a virtual paradise.”

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