linked in facebook twitter rss

  • Interbrand
  • Brandchannel

your chance!
your chance!
 
 
 
 

 

  Oops, I Merchandized Again   Oops, I Merchandized Again  Alycia de Mesa  
         
 
Oops, I Merchandized Again With record sales and royalties dwindling (down eight percent so far this year, according to Nielsen SoundScan), a fairly antiquated music industry coupled with increasing tour production costs, music artists and, perhaps more directly, artists' representation and management is looking for new ways to leverage the brand, make money and play some music along the way.

According to Rolling Stone, the merchandise sold in concert tours is what generates the most profits for bands small and big alike (14 July 2004). In 2004, Ozzy Osbourne grossed US$ 35 million in concert sales and another $15 million directly from merchandise sales, while Mötley Crüe's "Red White & Crüe" 2005 tour averaged $10 in merchandise sales per concertgoer per show. Revenue was generated from new and vintage Mötley Crüe goods including that mainstay of the rock and roll lifestyle: women's panties. For lesser-known bands, merchandise sales can be the lifeblood that literally feeds the artists.

While multi-million dollar album and concert sales sound impressive from a gross figure standpoint, even the biggest artists may only receive about a dollar per CD from sales. According to Gary Bongiovanni, editor in chief of Pollstar, a trade publication on the concert business, artists may receive as much as fifty percent of the gross concert sales once production costs are deducted. However, the biggest profit piece of the economic pie is in the merchandise itself. For every $25 standard tour t-shirt sold, as much as $10 per t-shirt may go directly to the artist. For mega artists like Britney Spears and Ozzy, a worldwide tour can translate into multi-million dollar prospects in just merchandise.

 
Selling to the Man
Beyond concert arenas, the era of "selling out to the man" is now replaced by "leveraging the licensing deal." Not so many years ago (namely 1987), the use of "Revolution" by the Beatles featured prominently in a Nike television spot was considered heresy among core fans. In fact, the Beatles' Apple Corps sued Nike to halt their songs from being used to sell product.

Paul McCartney was quoted in 1988 as saying, "The most difficult question is whether you should use songs for commercials. I haven't made up my mind. Generally, I don't like it, particularly with the Beatles' stuff. When twenty years have passed, maybe we'll move into the realm where it's okay to do it."

Less than twenty years later, a synthesized "Hey Jude" now can be downloaded straight to your Nokia phone for just a few dollars.

While artists and their songs are seen more actively cuddling with corporate America (such as Jaguar car commercials featuring Sting or punk band Lillix representing for Acuvue Advance contact lenses), products featuring a pop band's image are nothing new.

From lunch boxes to Saturday morning cartoons to action figure dolls, pop idols like the Beatles, Sonny and Cher, and Elvis Presley effectively began the mass brand era for 'tweens back in the 1960s followed by the Jackson 5, Abba, and Donny and Marie Osmond in the 70s and New Kids on the Block in the 80s.

Over a decade later, toymaker Galoob (since acquired by Hasbro) resurrected the doll concept for the Spice Girls to rave success, spurring a new generation of pop star dolls from various toy companies, which include Britney Spears, Mandy Moore, Christina Aguilera and Beyoncé.

When deviating from music to other products, one thing is evident: talent and even record sales do not necessarily translate to commercial product success. Despite the powerhouse voices of Beyoncé and Christina Aguilera, the plastic, mini-me versions were utter failures compared to the Britney doll in terms of sales. According to Britney doll maker PlayAlong, the Britney doll broke all records for an individual personality doll, selling six million units at $10 to $15 retail price points.

Why are some a hit and others a bust within a similar category? Matt Hautau, vice president, licensing and marketing, for Signatures Network, believes it's difficult to pinpoint why. "We've always found that album sales have absolutely nothing to do with the ability for an artist to really build and support a merchandising program. We have artists who have sold, and who sell, tens of millions [in record sales], but for whatever reason, the connection with that artist is about pure music—not about who that artist is necessarily. Then [there are] other artists whose album sales are good, but they've got that extra offering that seems to resonate with the consumer."

Defining that "extra something" image wise, to whom it relates and translating the two to an actual product or product line is the formula that goes into today's music artist branding. Like all brands, some are well thought out and executed, and others are disastrous. (Although for many music artists, disastrous can simply translate to mediocre junk.)

 

Lifestyle Mania
With a dizzying array of lifestyle-oriented product options aimed at not only 'tweens and teens but middle-aged adults and their grandbabies, the possibilities of stretching a music artist brand are greater today than ever. From Kiss coffins and condoms to John Lennon original artwork on Carter's baby clothes to Insert-Artist's-Name-Here fragrance and accessory lines, branded products not only provide extra revenue for an act. When well done, branded products can benefit a career by introducing and extending the particularly long-standing artist's name into new generations.

Signatures Network Hautau comments, "I think it's that positioning, that strategic thinking of how to leverage music artists in a way that's not going after just the core fans anymore." Translation: consumer products broaden an artist's reach.

When it comes to how far is too far, some in the industry believe that not much interferes with street credibility today. Says Robert Thorne, founder/CEO of the Robert Thorne Company and the man formerly behind the Olsen Twins and currently Hilary Duff, "I don't think there's any 'death mill' kind of associations anymore. I think customers are tired of fighting back, and they just accept that these guys (artists) go for the money. Sometimes, they do it thematically, consistently with the tone of their career, and sometimes they don't. But no one seems to care anymore."

On the other end of the 15-minute fame and money cynicism charts, some artists, such as Carlos Santana, leverage licensing and branded products to fund philanthropic causes. Carlos and his wife Deborah Santana together with his River of Colors licensing division teamed with Brown Shoe Company in 2001 to create "Carlos by Carlos Santana" women's shoes. Available in mainstream department stores and niche boutiques, the line, targeted for women ages 18 to 55, is sexy seventies inspired with lots of colors, unique prints and high heels—reflective of Santana's eclectic Latin rock music.

According to Caryn Hartsock, brand manager for River of Colors, sales continue to grow twenty percent per year (estimated by Santana Management in the tens of millions for gross revenue) with a percentage of proceeds going back to Santana's Milagro Foundation benefiting arts, health and education for children around the world. Comments Hartsock, "[The shoe line] kind of goes hand in hand with Carlos' career in terms of you would never say this is the traditional route a musician would take."

Michael Jensen of Jensen Communications (the PR company behind Santana) says, "We realized [with the success of "Supernatural" in 2000] that Carlos had become more lifestyle than just him alone."

Brand manager Hartsock also attributes the transition from guitar legend to lifestyle brand to the success of Santana's album "Supernatural," particularly with regard to how the album reached new fans and generations in collaborations with younger artists such as Dave Matthews and Rob Thomas. In contrast to 30 years ago, Santana concerts are now a multi-generational, family affair.

Keeping the opportunities and merchandise fresh is reportedly a priority for Santana Management. The website currently sells over a hundred different products in branded merchandise that, according to River of Colors, is selective in consideration and constantly changing so that "people aren't always looking at the same old t-shirts."

     

[6-Jun-2005]

 
  
  

Alycia de Mesa is a brand identity consultant and writer with over 10 years experience from Fortune 100 to start-up companies. She is author of Before The Brand, the definitive brand identity handbook, published by McGraw-Hill (under the name Alycia Perry).

     
 commenting closed Add Social Bookmark bookmark  print
 suggest topic  recommend ( 13 )  email

  brandchannel home archive   2013  |  2012  |  2011  |  2010  |  2009  |  2008  |  2007  |  2006  | 2005  |  2004  |  2003  |  2002  |  2001
 
 
Dec 19, 2005 Cava Uncorked: Sparkling Interest Abroad -- Joe Ray
  Spanish sparkling wine brand Cava competes with Champagne on cachet but keeps costs at a level to be enjoyed every day.
   
 
Dec 12, 2005 School Reform: Branding for Extra Credit -- Edwin Colyer
  As state schools begin to specialize in the UK, they must teach prospective students what their brand stands for.
   
 
Dec 5, 2005 Hot Shops: Retail Revamps -- Alicia Clegg
  It’s not enough to offer a sale anymore. These days retailers are creating theater to draw customers into a complete brand experience.
   
 
Nov 28, 2005 Virtual Packaging Lacks Sense -- Randall Frost
  Products sold online lack the benefit of three of the five senses. How does the lack of touch, smell and taste affect consumer shopping behavior?
   
 
Nov 21, 2005 A Competitive Edge in a Cutthroat Market -- Slaven Marinovich
  Close shave: The cutthroat business of trademarks in the world of wet-shaving equipment manufacturers sharpens between Gillette and Wilkinson Sword.
   
 
Nov 14, 2005 Fidelity and McCartney: Mutually Invested -- Renée Alexander
  Celebrity endorsements: When ex-Beatle Paul McCartney joins forces with Fidelity Investment do consumers suddenly want to buy mutual funds?
   
 
Nov 7, 2005 Rendering Your Brand in 3D -- Vincent Grimaldi de Puget
  An opportunity to wrap customers in the complete brand experience starts at the front door. What is environmental or retail branding and why should we bother?
   
 
Oct 31, 2005 Capitalizing on Creative Differences -- Edwin Colyer
  In the saturated field of consumer goods, what is it that makes a new product really fly?
   
 
Oct 24, 2005 Branding, a Job Well Done -- Dale Buss
  How do major brands like Costco and Ritz-Carlton become household names without relying on traditional advertising? By tapping into their greatest resource: Employees.
   
 
Oct 17, 2005 Attracting a Positive Market -- Cristian Salazar
  HIV treatment medications must confront a difficult subject and still offer hope. A competitive analysis of how various drug companies approach the market.
   
 
Oct 10, 2005 Marketing and Tweens: BFF -- Alycia de Mesa
  Brands target the narrow but lucrative demographic of the tween.
   
 
Oct 3, 2005 Packaging Your Brand's Personality -- Randall Frost
  What's in the box? A well-designed package should convey the brand's personality.
   
 
Sep 26, 2005 Product Placement: Making the Most of a Close-Up -- Abram Sauer
  Product Placement: Are you getting the best exposure for your brand?
   
 
Sep 19, 2005 Lose the Jargon, Voice Your Brand -- Rob Mitchell
  Companies need to listen to their inner voice.
   
 
Sep 12, 2005 Assigned Reading: Branding Gets Credit at University -- Edwin Colyer
  Universities take a tip from the corporate world in trying to brand their institutions.
   
 
Sep 5, 2005 Has French Wine Outgrown the AOC? -- Joe Ray
  Is AOC bringing clarity to the French wine industry or just causing more confusion?
   
 
Aug 29, 2005 Sambazon Squeezes into the Juice Market -- Dale Buss
  Will consumers get juiced up for Sambazon?
   
 
Aug 22, 2005 Counting on Your Brand's Name -- Chris Grannell
  Running the numbers: Brands like 3 Mobile, neuf and 118118 seek to differentiate from their alpha competitors.
   
 
Aug 15, 2005 The Myth of Authenticity -- Alicia Clegg
  How important is authenticity in your brand story? Brands like Häagen Dazs and Baileys Original Irish Cream stretch the heritage myth.
   
 
Aug 8, 2005 Hotel Brands Break the Chain -- Rob Mitchell
  After decades of perfecting the known experience at chains around the world, hotel brands are now trying to create boutique hotels as guests go on a quest for the one-off experience.
   
 
Aug 1, 2005 Naming: Entering the Chinese Market -- Doris Ho
  How will your name be received in China?
   
 
Jul 25, 2005 Best Global Brands: Focus on UBS -- Robin Rusch
  Among the top five fastest growing brands on the list of 100 Best Global Brands 2005, Swiss financial services company UBS reflects the work in progress of growing and sustaining a global brand.
   
 
Jul 18, 2005 Magazines Circulate Their Brand Licenses -- A.K. Cabell
  Magazine publishers like Ebony mine their brand awareness for licensing opportunities.
   
 
Jul 11, 2005 GE Imagines a Greener Future -- Ron Irwin
  What can GE learn from Shell’s past experiences as it implements a commitment to the environment called ecomagination?
   
 
Jul 4, 2005 Brand Gamble: Mergers and Acquisitions -- Alycia de Mesa
  The marriage may be made in heaven, but did anyone check with the children? Mergers and acquisitions can be great for business but lousy for the customer.
   
 
Jun 27, 2005 Brands Suffer Youth Indecision -- Edwin Colyer
  Cheatin' heart: Youth are fickle, lacking loyalty, and high maintenance. Why do brand owners target them so heavily?
   
 
Jun 20, 2005 Growing Pains Small Brands -- Alicia Clegg
  How can a brand remain true while broadening its reach? Popular but small brands like Innocent Drinks, Tyrrells and Hill Station risk losing their original fans in their quest to grow bigger.
   
 
Jun 13, 2005 That's Rich: Redefining Luxury Brands -- Edwin Colyer
  As the masses rush to acquire luxury does it negate the original prestige of the premium brand?
   
 
May 30, 2005 Brands Go Beyond Product Placement -- Edwin Colyer
  Brands like BMW and Stella Artois team up with film directors for mutually beneficial branded entertainment sponsorships and partnerships.
   
 
May 23, 2005 Favored to Win: Branding professional sports -- Alycia de Mesa
  What does it take for an alternative sports league to win against the established national leagues?
   
 
May 16, 2005 Building Confidence in Your Brand -- Randall Frost
  What are the economic efficiencies of reaching confidence in your brand?
   
 
May 9, 2005 Is Fashion Design a Team Sport? -- Rob Mitchell
  Sports brands team up with fashion designers for a more competitive offering.
   
 
May 2, 2005 Local Success on a Global Scale -- Randall Frost
  How do huge global companies like Philips, McCain Foods and McDonald's achieve "multi-local" status?
   
 
Apr 25, 2005 Does Selling Science Take a Genius? -- Edwin Colyer
  The ultimate brand icon, Einstein is being used to promote every type of science initiative. Is this genius or mad?
   
 
Apr 18, 2005 Dove Gets Real -- Alicia Clegg
  Unilever’s Dove is the latest beauty brand to use "real" women to sell product. But can this campaign turn ugly?
   
 
Apr 11, 2005 Pharma Co-Marketing: Possible Side Effects -- Edwin Colyer
  When two pharmaceutical companies ally, so must their marketing efforts. Unfortunately, there’s no pill to make two competitors promotional partners.
   
 
Apr 4, 2005 Zen and the Art of Brand Maintenance -- Vivian Manning-Schaffel
  Disaster and fear offer hope to spiritual brand owners.
   
 
Mar 28, 2005 Is Ikea for Everyone? -- Elen Lewis
  Ikea reassembles only slightly to reach new markets.
   
 
Mar 21, 2005 Exposing Your Brand Internally -- Alycia de Mesa
  A brand is more than skin deep. Internal understanding of the brand is imperative to consistency in communication.
   
 
Mar 14, 2005 Churches Put Their Faith in Branding -- Edwin Colyer
  In doing god’s work, churches find themselves reaching beyond the congregation to spread the brand message.
   
 
Mar 7, 2005 Should Global Brands Trash Local Favorites? -- Randall Frost
  When P&G, Unilever and Nestlé clean house, they risk losing local markets for beloved brands. Companies like Henkel, on the other hand, retain a portfolio of national and international brands to satisfy both global and local tastes.
   
 
Feb 28, 2005 Fairtrade: The Business of Ethics -- Alicia Clegg
  The Fairtrade mark allows brands to identify as in support of fairness to trade and promotion of economic development in the world’s poorest countries.
   
 
Feb 21, 2005 brandchannel's 2004 Product Placement Awards -- Abram Sauer
  Awards and commentary for the best and the worst of 2004.
   
 
Feb 14, 2005 Beer Brands and Homelands -- Edwin Colyer
  Is country of origin the most important quality of your beer brand?
   
 
Feb 7, 2005 Anti-Globalization: Are You Serious? -- Edwin Colyer
  Is anti-corporate sentiment a real threat to brand owners? What does the activist movement want and what benefit (if any) is that to the corporation?
   
 
Jan 31, 2005 Readers Pick Apple in 2004 -- Robin D. Rusch
  Apple, Google, Ikea, Starbucks and Al Jazeera: Brandchannel readers choose the brands that had the most impact on them in 2004.
   
 
Jan 24, 2005 Putting You in the EU -- Dafydd ab Iago
  Selling Europe: The EU has a constitution, now all it needs is citizen support and interest.
   
 
Jan 17, 2005 Branding with Chinese Characteristics -- Edwin Colyer
  Western brands hoping to break into China need to reconsider their brand identity and positioning for the local market.
   
 
Jan 10, 2005 Cars Make Inroads Online -- Edwin Colyer
  Automakers take risks online with co-branding and interactive options not seen offline.
   
 
Jan 3, 2005 Local to Global: Easy as 1-2-3? -- Randall Frost
  JetBlue and other smaller regional brands strive to disprove the Rule of Three.