An article on Elvis in the media by Stuart Elliot from the NYT.
Elvis may have left the building, but for Madison Avenue, it is as if he were still inside, helping woo consumers more ardently than ever.
A multimedia marketing blitz with a budget estimated at $10 million to $20 million is under way to promote a new round of entertainment programming about Elvis Presley. The CBS division of Viacom has declared next week "Elvis Week," in hopes of luring viewers to watch two biographical shows, one fictionalized, the other factual, that run a total of six hours.
CBS has a lengthy list of marketing partners to pitch the shows, "Elvis," a mini-series starting this Sunday, and "Elvis by the Presleys," a documentary, on May 13. Among the partners are American Airlines, part of the AMR Corporation, which will run a Presley program during its in-flight entertainment and distribute Presley CD samplers to passengers; Crown Publishers, part of the Random House division of Bertelsmann, which will release a book, also titled "Elvis by the Presleys"; and People magazine, part of the Time Inc. unit of Time Warner, which will run in its May 9 issue an insert carrying the headline "The King is Hear." When opened, the insert plays a snippet of "Blue Suede Shoes" and a commercial for the TV shows.
Other partners are Presley's music label, Sony BMG, owned by Bertelsmann and the Sony Corporation of America; the quiz show "Jeopardy," owned by Sony, which will feature an "Elvis" category during its show Friday; TV Guide, part of Gemstar-TV Guide International; and Web sites like citysearch.com, with a promotion called "Elvis Was Here," as well as elvis.com and yahoo.com.
There will also be copious cross-promotion by Viacom siblings including CMT, Infinity billboards and radio stations, MTV, Spike, TV Land and VH1.
"It's the biggest thing we've got going for the May sweeps," said George F. Schweitzer, president of the CBS Marketing Group unit of CBS in New York. His reference was to a month in which the broadcast networks typically stuff their schedules full of special programs to stimulate ratings gains as the TV season concludes.
Indeed, almost 28 years after his death, interest in Presley seems bigger among advertisers, agencies and media companies than it was during his life. His growing appeal is emblematic of the increasing interest in deceased celebrities as endorsers because their fame often outshines that of today's stars - and it typically costs less to use their images than their contemporary counterparts'.
Presley, in fact, topped the fourth annual list of top-earning dead celebrities released last October by Forbes magazine, with annual revenue of $40 million, compared with $35 million for No. 2, Charles M. Schulz, the creator of "Peanuts," and $23 million for J. R. R. Tolkien, author of "Lord of the Rings." Here are some additional examples of current Presley projects:
1. A musical inspired by Presley, "All Shook Up," opened March 24 on Broadway, featuring live performances of 25 tunes he originally sang. The cast recording, on Sony BMG, is due in stores on May 31.
2. 24-hour Presley music channel, called Elvis Radio, is among the choices offered by Sirius Satellite Radio.
3. Presley will be a character in a biographical film about Johnny Cash, "Walk the Line," scheduled to be released on Nov. 18 by the 20th Century Fox division of the News Corporation. Presley will be played by a young singer, Tyler Hilton, who warmed up by performing two Presley songs last month at the wedding of his cast mates Chad Michael Murray and Sophia Bush from the WB series "One Tree Hill."