Branders Are a Girl's Best Friend
Fifty years ago, on August 5, 1962, American icon Marilyn Monroe died. Her death also marked the birth of one of the strongest celebrity brands in history. Second only to Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley, Forbes Magazine reported that the Marilyn Monroe brand, through digitally enhanced advertising, promotional products and souvenir items, is a living, breathing entity capable of generating millions of dollars a year.
In January 2011, Authentic Brands Group (ABG), purchased a 51 percent stake of the Marilyn brand and nudged it toward luxury product lines such as Dior, Dolce & Gabbana and MAC Cosmetics. In just a year since purchasing the brand, ABG has brought in $27 million in Marilyn Monroe merchandise.
It is without a doubt a branding masterpiece. The ability to build revenue on the licensing of a persona, simple photographs, film footage, interviews and sex appeal is amazing. Marilyn even tweets and has more than 60,000 followers. The mere fact that 50 years after her death, we are still interested, still engaged and still purchasing products based on her persona is a branding phenomena.
Ethical issues aside, and there are many when it comes to the Monroe estate and how it landed in the laps of current owners, there is a complete curriculum in marketing here. The starting lessons would be: 1. Know Your Audience, 2. Be
Visual, 3. Be Fun.
With the whole icon thing in her pocket and a vault full of fun, sexy and smart images available, Marilyn easily hit all the demographics for promotional pieces and collectibles. But in years past, it seemed the marketing plan stayed squarely focused on how attractive she was to the opposite sex. They forgot the power of half their potential demographic—women who want to have that charisma, sex appeal and spot-on glamorous beauty.
By finally attaching the icon whose fashion, makeup and style were second-to-none to high-end luxury brands, ABG at least places Marilyn on the pedestal where she belongs, and will earn ABG an E+ for earnings.
Now, where does the money go?