February 12, 2009

No License, No Cry

Bobmarley Breakin' news from Jamaica is that private-equity group Hilco has paid the family of Bob Marley the cool sum of $20 million for a 50% equity stake in House of Marley, LLC, a new joint-venture that plans to license the image and brands of the singer, who died in 1981. Products in the pipe – sorry, pipeline – include shoes, food, collectibles, luggage, musical instruments, and stationery. Look for Marley Lager and Marley Organic Coffee coming your way in the not-too-distant future.

According to The Deal, Hilco believes the House of Marley can license a billion dollars a year worth of merchandise. Respect. But first they will have to crack down on the $600 million of pirated Marley goods they reckon are sold each year. Hilco promises to spend whatever it takes to stop counterfeiters, which has, of course, prompted a predictable backlash from Marley fans (see Gawker's post: Bob Marley Now Owned by Wall Street). Sell-out or sweet music? What do you think?

February 05, 2009

Back to School for Celebs

Bhhs It's unlikely that your local high school will make millions of dollars in licensing revenue this year. Unless, of course, your local high school is in the 90210 zip code. Beverly Hills High School is reportedly looking at a deal to license the school's brand on apparel, cosmetics, and accessories.

The licensing deal could bring the school district $500,000 a year in royalties, and perhaps much more if famous alumni including Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Cage, and Richard Dreyfuss get involved.

But the news from Hollywood is not all good. In an article this week, AdAge proclaims, "Bad news celebs: the era of simply slapping your name on your own fashion brand and waiting for royalties to roll in is over." They go on to report that the collapse of retailers such as Goody's and Steve & Barry's has also led to the demise of celebrity apparel brands from Ashley Judd, Sarah Jessica Parker, Amanda Bynes and Venus Williams. More here.

December 20, 2008

Zappos Extends Into “Insights”

Zappos We’ve seen some strange extensions of footwear brands (cf. our recent post on Reebok Monopoly-branded sneakers), but perhaps nothing is quite the conceptual stretch as Zappos getting into the training and management-consulting business.

Famed for its legendary customer service, the Las Vegas-based etailer has been a mecca for other firms’ executives seeking to learn about its innovative approach. CEO Tony Hsieh hopes to monetize that interest, and has just announced the launch of Zappos Insights, a subscription-based service that lets people pose questions which are answered in video format by Zappos team members.

"There are management consulting firms that charge really high rates," Hsieh was quoted by Adweek. "We wanted to come up with something that's accessible to almost any business." Hence the service's pricing model: $39.95 per month. More here.

December 12, 2008

Softwear from Microsoft

Microsoft_softwearNow that we have rapper T-shirts from Kellogg’s, limited-edition sneakers from Hennessy, and boxer shorts from Burger King, it should come as no great surprise that Microsoft is getting into the clothing business.

Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Adage reports, is helping Microsoft design a line of "urban geek" T-shirts, slated to hit shelves this holiday season.

The line, which recalls features like the old MS-DOS font, “taps the nostalgia of when PCs were just starting to change our lives," Adage quotes Microsoft. The program ties into Crispin's "I’m a PC" campaign. The rapper Common contributed some of the featured designs. Read more here.

November 06, 2008

Swimming Upstream

HellokittyWith Walmart one of the few retailers expected to thrive this holiday season, two brands have chosen this unlikely time to move upmarket.

CVS just announced the opening of Beauty 360, a tony cosmetics store to be launched initially in Washington, DC and Mission Viejo, California. Executives put a rosy face on the move, despite the economy. "It may not be a vacation, or it might not be the new dress, but you know what, the $15 lipstick might not have the same pinch to her that the rest of those higher priced ones do," Reuters quotes CVS executive Mike Bloom. More here.

Meanwhile, Hello Kitty’s parent announced the arrival of upscale Sanrio Luxe in Times Square this November. The move is meant to extend Hello Kitty among girls who grew up with the brand and now want it to accompany them into womanhood. Whether they'll drop $30,000 on a Hello Kitty diamond pendant remains to be seen.

The shop is modeled after a "modern-day nursery storybook with a romantic feeling," Women’s Wear Daily reports. Most items are exclusive to the store, the newspaper reports. The outlet will not limit itself to couture –- it is slated to feature limited-edition Hello Kitty Fender guitars in time for the holidays. More here.

October 01, 2008

Fancy Footwork

Hennessy_sneakersFurther cementing the ties between the worlds of luxury spirits and hip-hop, Hennessy has announced a limited-edition sneaker branded after the cognac. Designed by Jhung Yuro, the Hennessy Celebration Hi-Top is slated for release December 1, retailing for $300. Each pair, the Luxist blog reports, comes in a lizard-skin-embossed box. More here.

Meanwhile, David Beckham is expanding his empire with a series of children’s books. Based on his successful David Beckham Academy which provides soccer training in Europe and the US, the stories are targeted at seven-year-olds and are meant to "bring children to reading through football." The first book is due out in June 2009. More here.

September 10, 2008

Wrap Yourself in the Flag

FirstinfantryThe US Army, the First Infantry Division to be precise, has licensed its insignias for the first time, allowing them to appear on a new sort of runway. Thanks to a licensing deal with Sears, the division's "big red one" logo debuted on a line of military-inspired apparel at New York's Fashion Week, and will appear in stores in October. A US Army spokesperson, quoted in AdAge, speaks like a true branding professional: "By incorporating the Army's timeless traditions with iconic styling and unparalleled standards for performance, fit and function, consumers can wear the pride they feel for our troops." Response from veterans' groups was not slow in coming. CBS ran a story on Vietnam vets who felt the extension was decidedly off-brand. "That's a dishonor to do that," said one of them. "The Army has no right to make extra money with Sears."

Meanwhile, the branding pundits wasted no time in joining the fray around the US presidential election. John Quelch, a professor at Harvard Business School, called Sarah Palin "a very good brand extension, one that complements the core propositions of the master brand while extending it to a new audience." Meanwhile, he calls Biden "a defensive line extension." Read more here. Anyone with other thoughts on the brands running in this election?

And if you're still not sure which horse to back this election, you could do a lot worse than Hermes' new $490 plush horse toy. More here.

August 13, 2008

You Want to Wear That Brand?

MonopolyWhen Adidas announced sneakers branded after classical pianist Lang Lang, we thought we seen it all. But now Reebok has partnered with Hasbro to come out with Monopoly footwear (priced at $40 for kids and $75 – 85 for grown-ups, the Boston Globe reports). "Monopoly has global recognition as one of the most iconic board games of all time, and Reebok is excited to be able to translate this fun into footwear," the Globe quotes Christian Stegmaier, Reebok's head of lifestyle product marketing. Is this an idea that preserves the fun of the original, or is it a risky move that might weaken an iconic brand?

Meanwhile, sometimes even jaded brand-extension watchers scratch their heads and say, "this is a pretty good idea." And so it goes with The Bugatti Collection – a line of apparel, accessories, and luggage. Now available on the Web, the collection seems to have preserved the quality and mystique of the fabled brand. The quilted jacked, available for US$ 600, is described as follows on the posh site: "The exquisite, country-style quilted jacket with black fabric on the outside and cashew-coloured lining is a must for every Bugatti aficionado. The cashew shade of the lining is picked up along the edges and in Ettore Bugatti’s initials embroidered on the left chest. The striking monogram is also stamped on the press studs, and the zipper echoes the design of the Bugatti radiator grill." View the site here.

June 06, 2008

Snap, Crackle, and Hip Hop

Kelloggs_2Brand extension makes for strange bedfellows, perhaps none stranger than two which were recently announced. Kellogg’s graces most of our breakfast tables, so we suppose it’s as likely a candidate as any to join the ranks of urban fashion brands. Visit their partner, Under the Hood, to review such items as Dig 'Em and Tony the Tiger neon T-shirts, Froot Loops and Rice Krispies track jackets, and a Frosted Flakes padded nylon jacket.

Those whose tastes gravitate more toward the concert hall may reach instead for a pair of Lang Lang Adidas Gazelle sneakers. The Chinese piano virtuoso seems like a stretch to us for a sports brand. Whether his athleticism at the New York Philharmonic translates into relevance in the New York Marathon remains to be seen.

No doubt each of these taps into a well-researched market demand – but are they the right fit for the brand?

About This Blog

Brand extensions are all around us — clothing from the Sierra Club, furniture polish from Steinway and, yes, even the kitchen sink from Jacuzzi. TippingSprung, a New York-based brand-extension consultancy, publishes an annual survey on brand extensions with Brandweek. If you spot a noteworthy extension for the blog or survey, email us.



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