Elvis Presley Enterprises had its "biggest year ever" in 2007, according to Scott Williams, EPE's director of marketing who spoke in Tupelo Friday. He's gave a run-through of the organization's activities for the past year. What made 2007 stand out, Williams said, was the successful brand partnerships.
He cited the partnership with Reese's for a Collector Edition Peanut Butter & Banana Creme version of its peanut butter cup. Other successful partnerships in 2007 included Harley-Davidson, Budweiser, Sports Illustrated, Tennessee Tourism and American Idol.
Another standout partnership, according to Williams, was with NASCAR and Dale Earnhardt Jr. "The only fans I can think of who are bigger than Elvis fans are NASCAR fans," Williams said with a quick laugh.
The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest, of which Tupelo hosted one of the preliminary rounds, contributed to the year's success as well. Tupelo, being the birthplace of Elvis, was selected again to host a preliminary round at the Tupelo Elvis Festival June 6-8.
Williams said EPE used Tupelo last year as the model for a lot of the smaller towns that were hosting qualifying rounds. He also showed a video about the contest, which featured Tupelo's winner Brandon Bennett. The finals were held in Memphis during Elvis Week 2007 and sold out the Cannon Center.
Business also was good at Graceland and the surrounding properties in Memphis. Williams said about 600,000 people buy a ticket to tour the house each year, and another several thousand visit just to shop or do the free walk-up to the house.
And Williams said he only expects business in the Elvis world to get better.
"The magic of Elvis is still growing as more younger fans discover Elvis," he said.
About one-third of visitors to Graceland are younger than 34 and 75 percent of Graceland tourists are visiting for the first time.
"According to all of our research, it's growing and growing," he said. "The more than you guys can do to celebrate and bring awareness, the better it is for all of us."
EPE's goal is to preserve, protect and enhance the legacy of Elvis. It is a subsidiary of CKX Inc., a publicly traded company that also includes American Idol and Muhammad Ali.