Elvis may have been dead for almost 31 years, but his image and his likeness continue to be as well known now as they were over three decades ago. Like his contemporaries The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Marilyn Monroe, Elvis has the almost unique ability to appeal internationally and across generations.
Talking about her company’s new deal to represent Elvis Presley Enterprises in the UK and Eire, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Benelux, Italy, Spain and Portugal, CPLG boss Vickie O’Malley can’t quite seem to believe her luck: “I’m a fan and representation was something of a personal dream come true.
“One of the factors of our appointment was to grow a European business. To date, there’s been very little activity on the continent and our European offices are starting more or less from scratch. In the UK and Eire, there is a programme which we’re looking to grow significantly through a fresh, co-ordinated approach,” O’Malley tells Licensing.biz.
There are a number of UK licensees already in place, including Danilo (which has been an Elvis licensee since he was alive), GB Eye, Character UK, Half Moon Bay, Groovy Distribution and Character World amongst others.
O’Malley explains that when CPLG reviewed the existing programme, it found that licensees had been operating in isolation, both in terms of product development and design direction and without visibility of one another’s successes and retail base.
“We’ve tackled this in two ways,” she says. “Firstly, by developing a mini-style guide in preparation for the 40th anniversary of the broadcast of the 1968 special. The imagery from the ’68 special is just fantastic and the guide we’ve developed uses the iconic Elvis backdrop as its focus and very strong iconic image for licensees to design consistent anniversary ranges and packaging around.
“Secondly, we held our inaugural Elvis licensee workshop last month. The guide was launched to very positive feedback and the information shared at the meeting has helped us identify more opportunities and common retail priorities which we’re following up.”
O’Malley highlights fashion apparel and accessories as “priority” categories for the brand. Indeed, expect some announcements soon, as Tim Juckes, category director for apparel and homewares, has been in discussions with licensees and retailers. Likewise, Alex Bloor, the firm’s retail manager, has been approaching retailers which are common priorities to its licensees and discussing some bespoke activity. CPLG is also talking to fashion retail about the potential for activity around the anniversary that could be worked back into product.
The target market, of course, is wide. “Elvis is absolutely relevant to today’s market and, in fact, there are several distinct markets for Elvis Presley merchandise,” O’Malley continues. “Of course, there are the Elvis collectors and hardcore fan base, but Elvis’ enduring appeal means there’s also fashion-oriented markets for men and women, and a more casual fan base that will buy into merchandise if product and design are right.
“The beauty of the Elvis licence is that it can be adapted to meet the needs of all these target groups because of the flexibility in the rights. Licensees can choose from the phase of Elvis’ career and the extent to which they focus on his musical talent versus his showmanship, according to what’s right for their marketplace.”
And in another 30 years time, it’s likely we’ll still be talking about Elvis the man, his music and the brand.