By: Neil Siskind, New York Lawyer http://www.siskindlawfirm.com
Over the course of the past 20 years, celebrity-based and celebrity-driven fashion brands have exploded. In the 1950’s and 60’s, celebrities, such as Sophia Loren and Jackie Kennedy, were photographed wearing certain brands which created national buzzes for the respective brands and designers. But the appearance of Brooke Shields in a Calvin Klein Jeans television commercial in 1980 marked the real beginning of the modern-day phenomenon in the fashion industry where great brand exposure is not simply an “ancillary effect” of famous people voluntarily associating themselves with fashions – but is the main motivation for celebrities to wear certain brands in public. They are well-compensated for doing so, in one way or another.
There are a variety of methods that can be used for celebrities to push and promote brands. A celebrity may be compensated to appear in a brand’s commercial (think Michael Jordan for Hanes), a celebrity may be engaged as a paid “brand endorser” (think of athletes who wear only one brand of sneaker or exclusively use one brand of tennis racket), or a celebrity’s name can actually be used as the name of a product (think Donald J. Trump suits or Cindy Crawford furniture).
In the case of the latter-most example above, celebrities enter into trademark and copyright license agreements with manufacturers who then create product using a celebrity’s name, and sell the product to retailers for sale to the public.
In some cases, celebrities actually create and manufacture product lines of their own, as opposed to licensing the use of their names to third-party manufacturers. Examples of this would be the Sean John line, where Sean John (Diddy) Combs initially controlled the product line (and may still do so), and Kathy Ireland, who, in many cases, personally owns and oversees design and manufacturing of her lines.
Products can have more success when they are “celebrity-driven”, as opposed to being “named after” a celebrity. The apparel brands Sean John and Rockawear were great successes, whereas if these brands were named “Puffy” or “Jay-Z”, it is easy to imagine that they would have faltered.
The celebrity-branded-product industry has become increasingly important to celebrities themselves, and not only to manufacturers. This is especially true in the music industry where selling albums and CD’s is no longer a reality, due to the digital music industry. Musicians can no longer count on making millions of dollars from album sales, but need to rely on making themselves into brands so that they can demand large sums for personal appearances, television guest spots, concerts and merchandising. This merchandising aspect is one substitute for the album sales revenues of the past. This is why you see musicians today “acting-out” in public and creating public spectacles, and aggressively flaunting their attractive physical attributes. They are forced into such behaviors in order to draw media attention and increase their values as celebrity brands in order to enhance and maximize their non-album sales revenues.
Celebrity merchandising and licensing requires a good understanding of your product, your target market, retailer needs, and profit margins, so that you select the right celebrity with whom to work, and pay the right price for the rights. You need to decide if your money is best spent using trademark and copyright licensing strategies, or, instead, using your own trademark and having the respective celebrity appear in commercials. If you decide to license, you need to determine if you want a product line named after the celebrity, or if you would prefer to use a new trademark you create, for which a particular celebrity’s career and persona will be the driving forces.
If you are a celebrity, whether you be an actor, musician, or athlete, you need to evaluate your brand appeal, and identify the right partners to whom you will grant the rights to use of your name and likeness, in exchange for royalties or equity. You also should determine if, instead, you want to actually be involved in and control product design, production, and distribution through your own business entity, rather than licensing rights to another company. In either case, you also should consider if you want your name to be the brand, or if you want to create a trademark using something other than your own name, but for which your persona is the driving force.
Call Neil Siskind at The Siskind Law Firm http://siskindlawfirm.com/ to discuss your licensing strategy and needs.
Neil S. Siskind
Attorney at Law
Neil Siskind’s personal and professional accolades can be found at: http://siskindlawfirm.com/neil-siskind-bio/
Neil Siskind supports his community: http://www.neilsiskindsupports.com
Neil Siskind is the Founder & Chairman of The Fatherhood Assignment
Learn more at: http://www.neil-siskind-the-fatherhood-assignment.org/
-Neil Siskind’s Volunteer Work: Volunteer, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
–Donate to one of my needy public classrooms: http://www.donorschoose.org/NeilSiskindGiving
-Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, My Fundraiser- Help Neil Siskind help children with cancer to be more comfortable: http://mskcc.convio.net/site/TR?px=3182108&fr_id=2632&pg=personal
-Help Neil Siskind make sick children’s wishes come true: Neil-Siskind/Help-Make-A-Child-Smile.htm
-Neil Siskind’s Pro Bono Work:
Protecting New York’s senior citizens from fraud and financial abuse: www.savingseniorcitizens.com
Champion Children – The Siskind Law Firm We seek to inspire people with stories of children who have overcome challenges: http://siskindlawfirm.com/neil-siskind-champion-children/
FreeStart Business – The Siskind Law Firm We seek to help put war veterans and senior citizens in the right direction so that they can face the challenges of the modern economy: http://siskindlawfirm.com/neil-siskind-champion-children/
Neil Siskind’s Philanthropic Work:
-Hudson Riverfront Land Preservation
Neil Siskind is the Conservator of the Neil S. Siskind Nature Preserve
The Neil S. Siskind Nature Preserve is over 7 acres of environmentally-pristine waterfront land in a magnificent setting along New York’s majestic Hudson River. The Preserve includes a variety of species of animal and plant life, and is a precious example of the thoughtful maintenance of New York’s priceless open spaces. The land’s uses are limited to outdoor recreation such as hiking and climbing, and the study of ecology, nature and land use. The Neil S. Siskind Nature Preserve allows for the intelligent contemplation of our valuable natural resources and the most effective ways to maximize them and keep them protected.
-Founder & Chairman, The Fatherhood Assignment: A think tank to educate the public about, and advocate for the children of absentee fathers. http://www.neil-siskind-the-fatherhood-assignment.org/
Neil Siskind’s Government Work:
Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Boston, MA, 1994, Intern
Office of Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Newington, CT, 1992, Intern
Hartford County Department of Probation, Hartford, CT, 1991, Intern
Neil Siskind’s Community Assistance:
Established and operated a temporary legal clinic offering inexpensive legal services to struggling Long Islanders during the recession to help clients resolve debt, plan estate matters, organize finances, start small businesses and obtain governmental assistance such as Medicaid.
Neil Siskind’s linkedin URL:Neil Siskind