Bellagio Time

We catch up with the timepiece specialist to talk Elvis, Sesame Street and doing it for charity.
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Bellagio Time started life creating original watches under its own brand names, as well as for special interests such as Formula 1, horse racing, religion and music legends.

However, it was its much-lauded Elvis collections which brought the firm to the attention of the licensing industry at large. Now, says boss Mike Cohen, Bellagio Time is being approached on a weekly basis to design watches, clocks and jewellery for some of the world’s most renowned brands.

“Bellagio Time has filled a gap in the market,” Cohen tells Licensing.biz. “I have been creating watches for 15 years and a fan of Elvis for much longer, so combining the two is a genuine pleasure. We were extremely gratified to be nominated for Best Licensed Product (Hard Goods) [at the 2009 Licensing Awards] within just one year of being granted the Elvis licence.

“CPLG’s fantastic team have given us huge support, even when some of my ideas have pushed the boundaries to their limits.”

With a brand as widely recognised as Elvis – and with such a passionate fan base to please - the firm was well aware it had to do its research before launching the collections. “Initially we designed the collection, went through the usual approval processes, then took our samples on the road to visit fan clubs all over the UK,” says Cohen. “They told us what the fans loved so that we could explain to our customers the passion in all of our designs. To provide even more hard evidence, we started our own direct marketing campaign, to know firsthand what the fans actually want to purchase. The results gave us the confidence to take our Elvis collections to another level.”

Indeed, items are now being sold in the UK, Europe, US, Australia, New Zealand and, shortly, South Africa. The collections are often inspired by Elvis’ possessions, from jumpsuits to guitars, with Graceland, MGM, Time Warner and Bed, Bath & Beyond just a few of the companies which have selected them.

Since its formation in 2005, Bellagio Time’s business has increased steadily year on year. One such new business relationship is with Sesame Street, with the company working on a collection of watches, clocks and jewellery for adults and children.

“We are having so much fun working on Sesame Street,” says Cohen. “As an organisation we have found them to be one of the most professional in this business. Our focus is on the 40th anniversary celebrations initially, yet we have designed something for everyone who grew up and loved Sesame Street. We are very proud to be associated with such an iconic brand.”

Cohen is also on the verge of signing two or three new licences and he is hoping to expand these brands further throughout Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

On top of all this, Cohen is also a staunch charity supporter, setting up the Time For Children Promise in 2005. “Through sales of our timepieces we have enabled children’s charities across the globe to raise over £400,000 to date,” he says proudly. “Our aim in the next 12 months is to raise in excess of $250,000 in the name of Elvis alone with our collections.

“Communication is key to our success; our teams in Hong Kong and New York also have so much belief in what we are creating. I feel very fortunate to work with such amazing people. I have had the best five years of my career so far; long hours, weeks away travelling across the world, it just has not stopped. I am so fortunate to have met some of the world’s finest people from all walks of life – from world famous artists, legends of stage, screen and sport to working with royalty in the UK, Dubai and Spain. The best is yet to come from Bellagio Time.”

And you wouldn’t want to bet against a man whose advice for coming out on top during a recession is “believe in what you do and keep doing what you do best”.

“We are celebrating Bellagio Time’s fifth birthday next year and we have some huge celebrations planned, with a star studded guest list. As it is also Elvis’ 75th birthday in January 2010, it is going to be a huge 12 months of celebrating; everything is very exciting,” Cohen concludes.

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