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Cheerwine shines spotlight on ‘hidden gems’ in new docu-series

SALISBURY – From Louisville, Ky., to the Florida Panhandle, Salisbury-based Cheerwine hit the road for months this year on a mission: to meet the legendary, inspirational people and places across the South to give them a national platform for their stories.

After uncovering theses “hidden gems” across seven states and 26 cities, Cheerwine has introduced an eight-episode docu-series that debuted on multiple video on-demand platforms Thursday.

The 98-year-old soft drink has a long tradition of celebrating the small-town heroes who do amazing things in their communities with little fanfare, a company press release said.

The Local Legend Project is Cheerwine’s homage to them – a series that uses its “passion brand” status and to help other Davids take on their Goliaths, much like Cheerwine itself, the release added.

“We may not have the multi-million-dollar ad budgets of the bigger brands,” said Tom Barbitta, senior vice president of marketing for Cheerwine, “but we know that the stories of authentic, unique, independent, family-owned businesses are powerful enough to inspire people nationwide and in doing so gain support for our brand through our purpose.”

Barbitta said The Local Legend Project demonstrates “in a very down-home and authentic way that a soft drink can play on the same field as the big brands by doing things its own way and staying true to its values — ones Cheerwine shares with all the docu-series’ legendary people and places.”

“Cheerwine is a true brand of the people,” Barbitta said, “and we hope the series demonstrates our love of community and real people … away from the hype and over-marketed world we live in.”

From the juke joint in a ravine in Bessemer, Ala., to an artist who sculpts entirely out of crayons in Nashville, Tenn., all the way to the pit masters serving up the country’s best BBQ, Cheerwine’s documentary crew covered it all.

Host/director Bo Stevenson, producer Haley Moore and camerawoman/editor Morgan Robertson spent three months on the road uncovering authentic, hidden pioneers, heroes and masters who were identified with help from each city’s local residents, the company said.

In keeping with Cheerwine’s tradition of building strong relationships with its fans, the company reached out on social media to discover local legends.

Before heading to each city, it asked fans for help finding one-of-a-kind people and places by using the Twitter hashtag #cheerwinelocallegends. Stevenson also talked with local newspapers and TV stations to spread the word about Cheerwine’s hunt for heroes.

Stevenson said, “Our crew would land in a new city every weekend, not knowing anybody and nimbly follow social media leads: seeing a tweet recommending a place, then going to investigate. It’s a delicious job, but somebody has to do it.”

Once the episodes were complete, Cheerwine partnered with FilmBuff, a leading distributor of independent films and documentaries.

“The beauty of branded entertainment is that it levels the playing field,” said Janet Brown, chief executive officer of FilmBuff. “What matters to audiences is the quality of the story. That can come just as easily from a beloved family-owned company like Cheerwine as a large multinational corporation. The Local Legend Project has a powerful message, and we look forward to sharing it with audiences across the globe.”

FilmBuff successfully secured distribution on iTunes, VIKI, Vimeo, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, Dailymotion and Vessel.

For more information about The Local Legend Project, or to nominate a local legend of your own, visit cheerwine.com/locallegends.




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