celebrity

June 17, 2009

Popup Extensions: Angels and Demons

Popupstores Two leading brands have chosen the popup-store concept to extend themselves, with decidedly different flavors. Axe is taking over a Hamptons, NY nightclub; its brand will be splashed liberally over the premises, with Axe products on sale in the restrooms. The extension is nothing if not logical. Michael Heller, a marketer quoted in the New York Times, observed, “Axe is all about the mating game, and the best place for a mating game is at a nightclub.” According to the Times, Axe is paying a promotion fee and is not participating in the revenues from the club. More here.

Those looking for a more, um, wholesome brand extension need look no further than Martha Stewart’s Popup Wedding Chapel. The last week of June, brides in New York City can get hitched cost-effectively at a Martha-Stewart-branded venue. “For $500, couples will get a gorgeous chapel and ceremony with champagne toast,” says the promotion. More here.

June 01, 2009

Aesthetic Extensions

Lego Lego keeps coming up with clever extensions. Hard on the heels of the Lego camera (covered in a prior post on this blog) comes the Lego Architecture series, featuring all the Lego you’ll need to recreate a Frank Lloyd Wright home or a scale model of the Guggenheim Museum. Rather than a gimmick, the product seems to be truly educational and fun. “Lego Architecture works to inspire future architects, engineers, and designers as well as architecture fans around the world with the Lego brick as a medium,” says the manufacturer.

Meanwhile, you could have visited the actual Guggenheim Museum to attend the world premier of another brand extension. French parfumier Christophe Laudamiel, creator of products for brands like Clinique and Ralph Lauren, commissioned an opera punctuated by 23 scents. The work, entitled Green Aria, will introduce olfactory stimuli to “tell the story of an epic struggle between nature and industry." Laudamiel is both innovative creator and smart businessman, the Wall Street Journal reports. The opera serves to drum up some publicity for his larger business of marketing a "new scent technology to hotels, movie theaters, videogame makers and other entertainment companies that want to pack a bigger sensory punch.” More here.

March 16, 2009

The German Touch

Obamafingers While American hucksters wasted no time in cranking out the Obama T-shirts and memorabilia, it took a German company to come up with the questionable idea of marketing Obama-branded fried chicken.

German newsweekly Der Spiegel reports that frozen-foods firm Sprehe wanted to ride the wave of Obama-mania and nothing could appear more natural than chicken fingers (with curry sauce, by the way).

The magazine quotes the firm’s marketing manager, Judith Witting, who remarked that, “It was supposed to be an homage to the American lifestyle and the new US president.” When asked by the magazine whether they might be playing off traditional racial stereotypes, Ms. Witting remarked that the thought had never occurred to her. More here.

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.

October 21, 2008

There Will Be Blood

SawIn what must rank as one of the strangest –- and most beneficial -- brand marriages of all time, The American Red Cross is once again partnering this Halloween with Lion’s Gate, makers of the Saw films. This marks their fifth annual Halloween Blood Drive, timed to coincide with the release of Saw V.

The 2007 Saw drive managed to collect 41,000 points of blood, with the claimed potential to save 123,000 lives. The event featured the tagline "Give til it hurts." Those donating blood will also get two dollars off their movie ticket.

A blogger for the Red Cross raves about the partnership, disappointed only that it won’t be promoted in her region (more here). A clever partnership, or one in questionable taste? See the official promotion 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 24, 2008

Consumer-Friendly Electronics

ToogoodJenny McCarthy and Philips have both just announced new brand extensions. One is launching a range of sex toys. The other a lifestyle brand and consumer-product line for children.

Hands up if you thought the former Playboy model was responsible for the "intimate massager."

Well, actually it's Philips, the world's largest lighting manufacturer and a major player in flat screens, ultrasound machines, and electric shavers who are entering the $390-million European sex-toy market. The massager will initially be sold in the UK, through pharmacy chain Boots and Amazon.uk, according to the Associated Press, following which distribution throughout Europe is planned. The Telegraph reports that the diplomatically named Relationship Care products "target the hitherto neglected group of sex-toy users aged between 35 and 55."  More here.

Meanwhile, self-styled "celebrity warrior mom" Jenny McCarthy is attempting to extend her brand in the opposite direction. Building on her experiences in combating her son’s autism, McCarthy has begun work on Too Good, a lifestyle brand meant to bring to market "affordable, nontoxic and healthy products for children." More here.

September 03, 2008

The Hallowed Halls of General Hospital

CambridgeCambridge University, former home to Isaac Newton and Christopher Wren, has decided it needs more of the common touch, and seeks to extend its brand in unconventional places. According to the Associated Press, Cambridge has approached producers of the soap operas EastEnders, Coronation Street and Emmerdale, in the hopes of including the university in the plot.

Lest you think Cambridge is trying to cash in on its 800 years of brand equity through a lucrative licensing deal, the real motivation seems to be the desire to attract students of more diverse backgrounds. "We're very keen to attract the brightest and best students regardless of their background," the AP quotes Cambridge spokesperson George Hayman. "One of the better ways of communicating directly with potential students is to talk to them through the soaps and other programs they watch." (The rather condescending implication seeming to be that the great families of Cambridge don’t park themselves in front of the tele watching soaps.)

And while Harvard seems happy with the memory of Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal wandering its quadrangles, Cambridge has also petitioned "Doctor Who" to choose the university for the show’s backdrop. More here.

August 26, 2008

Match of the Penguins

PenguindatingLooking for love? Try Penguin Dating, the new online dating service just launched by Penguin Books and Match.com. According to the revered British publisher’s blog, Penguin Dating helps singles strike a connection, "based not just on idle frippery like hair color and star sign, but on truly important stuff like what books they like." In other words, you can judge a person by the cover of the book they’re reading. View the site here.

It’s too soon to judge whether Penguin Dating will become a timeless classic or a throw-away summer fling. But if the results of a recent survey are anything to go by, it looks as if Penguin and Match.com are onto a good thing. In an online survey of 2,000 adults carried out by Borders bookstore, 50% of respondents said that they would look again or smile at someone on the basis of what they were reading. And a third of those surveyed said that they "would consider flirting with someone based on their choice of literature."

Those seeking to market themselves to bibliophiles across the Atlantic may be well advised first to read They Call Me Naughty Lola: Personal Ads from the London Review of Books (one actual ad reads "short, bald, fat and ugly male, 53, seeks short-sighted woman with tremendous sexual appetite"). Read a review here.

If you fall for a fan of Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond and one of Penguin’s top authors, you may want to consider the following gift for your new love. Available in December, just in time for the holidays, the Jaeger LeCoultre AMVOX2 DBS Transponder is a Swiss timepiece (price tag just over $40,000) that can lock and unlock the Aston Martin DBS ($260,000) from a distance of 10-meters. Start saving your Moneypennies now. More here.

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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