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The Brand Of Elvis

March 26, 2007 | Other
Marketing Elvis -- good gig if you can get it, right? Paul Jankowski, who joined Elvis Presley Enterprises in October as its first chief marketing officer, seems to be enjoying the job.

The commercial appeal visited Jankowski to talk about the business of Elvis as the 30th anniversary of his death approaches. Business is good -- from TV (a national campaign for the Honda CR-V rocked to a remixed version of "Burning Love") to the Graceland gates (600,000 visitors annually).

"I equated the other day our visitorship to a 40-day concert tour -- sold-out concert our," said Jankowski, 41, who was raised in Memphis, graduated from Christian Brothers High and the University of Tennessee, and went on to an entertainment business career that included CBS Records and Gibson Guitar.

EPE already had a marketing department, but Jankowski's position was created as part of media mogul Robert F.X. Sillerman and CKX Inc.'s plans to step up global marketing of all things Elvis. In 2005, Sillerman paid $100 million for an 85 percent stake in the Presley estate.

Excepts from our conversation with Jankowski:

Q: What parts of the fan base would you like to expand upon? A young audience is a big target, right?

A: We're not just targeting a young demo. Because if you look at what's happening in the marketplace, it's kind of happening organically. People are tapping into the power of his music and his influence. We're there. We're there with a very diverse group.

Q: What's an example of someone who maybe doesn't listen to Elvis, but you think, 'We can reach this person'? An 18-year-old with his iPod?

A: That could be one. (But) I want to be very careful that we don't limit it. Because if you're an entertainment consumer -- or more specifically, a music consumer -- you're already aware of Elvis. We want to give you more tools to investigate different things of Elvis. For instance, his influence on fashion, the doors he blew open there.

Q: What are some of those tools?

A: There might be tactics that include a digital platform ... down the road. We're already very active on YouTube and MySpace. We're already there. ... The fans are driving it.

Q: Are there some people to whom Elvis is not cool, not contemporary? Do you have to convince some people?

A: I think it's making them aware of an element of his life that they may have not been aware of.

An example ... One great takeaway from the tour of Graceland is his overwhelming
generosity. We've got some very good research that points to 18- to 24-year-olds that come out of it going, 'Wow, I had no idea about his generosity.'

Q: Because Elvis had so many personas, do you market him in different ways to different groups?

A: I don't think we change the message. Elvis is Elvis. There's nothing like him in the world. There's not an icon like him in the world. It just doesn't exist.

We don't construct the message to reach an audience, because Elvis, by virtue of what he does -- or did -- does that. ... We're not creating a product here and trying to make it fit any holes. It's already there.

Q: Nirvana's Kurt Cobain beat out Elvis on Forbes magazine's annual Top-Earning Dead Celebrities list (mostly because his widow, Courtney Love, sold a stake in his song catalog for a reported $50 million). What are your thoughts on that?

A: Elvis will be back on top. The Forbes list is no indications of the strength of the Elvis legacy. ... We've got a deal with Hershey's (for a limited edition of Reese's peanut butter cups with an image of Elvis on the package and a peanut butter and banana creme flavor).

The Honda CR-V is another great example. They used Elvis' music. They aired a spot during the Super Bowl.

(And) Sports Illustrated. Let's get relevant. Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, shooting right here at Graceland.

Don't take my word for it. Look at the examples of Fortune 100 companies doing
what they do.

Paul Jankowski:

Job title: Chief marketing officer, Elvis Presley Enterprises
Job description: Overseeing global brand development.
Hometown: Born in Aurora, Ill., but raised in Memphis.
Age: 41
Career highlights: Created promotions for Tom Petty, B.B. King and Elton John.
Source:Commercial Appeal
Jth wrote on March 26, 2007
That Reese's peanut butter cups, was that only released in the US or world-wide?
corey3rd wrote on March 26, 2007
Lack of Elvis movies on TV doesn't help. When I was a kid, Elvis was on TV all the time along with Godzilla and Don Knotts movies. It created the mystique. The problem with getting people into Elvis is that the estate doesn't have control over the films or albums.
mature_elvis_fan75 wrote on March 26, 2007
If there not aware of Elvis or his music id guess there not too bright lol,as for peanut butter cups,that will bring more jokes and i hate the idea,it wont sells cds',people buying a cd of an artist because hes on front of a candy bar? ok if you say so!
mature_elvis_fan75 wrote on March 26, 2007
Notise the answer an element of his life there not aware of, kinda sad that the people from his own generation are the ones who didnt support him in the way of respect,they made the jokes etc and the young ones have continued that tradition,dont get me wrong, Elvis has many many fans as we all know,but i do get annoyed when i hear comments well he was this or that,and the people have no clue what there talking about,one of the reasons im a fan is the person,i dont like just anyone,ive gotten pretty good at telling sincere people from the fakes!
byebye wrote on March 26, 2007
Aiming towards the "goj" thirst for vanity, is something Mr: Jankowski is fully aware off. The trick is to quench that thirst in making believe that it is important if Elvis is at the #1 spot of earning among dead celebrities, while at the same time getting away with the profit. Too many EP are especially an easy target since many dont question motives for all the junk as long as Elvis is being reported for yet another #1 spot. Ironically it is due to their own contribution when feeding the monster.
Steve V wrote on March 26, 2007
Releasing Today,Good Times,Raised on Rock with no bonus tracks? They are targeting a contemporary audience. Sorry, but those albums would appeal to no one except the die-hards who want them on CD. The music is dated! 70's Country appeal only.
ImThCat wrote on March 27, 2007
How much does EPE have to do with what BMG releases as far as albums and bonus tracks? I've always believed that BMG does pretty much what they want to do, with EPE's input minimal and only when BMG requests it.
mature_elvis_fan75 wrote on March 27, 2007
Dated music or not the original albums should be out there for those who do want them,but everything now is being churned out by the ftd label!
Anton wrote on March 27, 2007
In order to capitalize successfully on the Elvis brand, it is necessary that EPE Mgmt and Sillerman and BMG make the right marketing decisions. So far we haven't seen much of it!No huge campaigns to let the world (and youngsters) know how many Awards, Golden, Platinum and Silver records EP has won, how much of an american icon in history he will always be, etc etc There is a price for this publicity and promotion to be paid of course, but it pays off, the New York Madison Agencies will tell/show Jack, Bob a.o. And when it comes to releases: we have for years now recommended "profitable" future CD and CDBox and DVD releases to BMG and EPE but no-one listens to fans. they know it all better. until there's a new guy showing up, with the name Jankowski (far cousin of the polish prince?)who now "discovers" all of a sudden that we were right. Die hard fans need the Double albums on FTD plus added outtakes and that'll sell at least 250 thousand copies (costing only half a dollar to BMG to make those). If this new guru is smart (and we'll soon see that) he will approach us and listen more carefully to most of us. We still got a lot more creative and potentially successful ideas coming for him. Those Double albums is one thing; studio outtakes of GMan,USMale,Monkey as well as PromLand and BLove is another must for elvis fans. And then all those requests for EonTour72 plus DVD of those 12 concerts to go with it...now then you're talking creative marketing that sells well. Not to mention the missing movie outtakes of GGGirls, KCousins, Speedw, Roust a.o. like complete session outtakes of KCreole, GIBlues and BHawaii.And let Jankowski "eliminate" 14 or more of those old not-selling-well CDs and replace/recall them from the shelves (like Coca Cola did when they introduced the Cherry Coke and sold 4 billion cans...) and most of all, replace those by compilations or enhanced/extended CDs with 30 some songs on them (EinPerson, EonStage, TTWII live songs, EinMemphis74, etc etc
Anton wrote on March 27, 2007
Forgot this suggestion: EPE Mgmt, CKXE (Sillerman) and BMG should make a tremendous media impact this year and have full page or double page advertentials put in every major premium magazine in most western countries stating how many hits, platinum, gold etc records/awards EP has gotten long before the Beatles or Tom or Julio or even Elton, Michael and the others came around...beating Franky boy and Tony Bennett, Louis Armstrong, Ray, BBKing, a.o. A mega poster should be hung up in "every" music store in the world that sells EP material. Invite more magazines to come to Graceland and see for themselves...best unpaid for publicity you can get...reporters love to come to M'phis and Elvis-world....Let them do their job....and let the world know...while we are enjoying it all this year !!! It's now or never (2007) as most of us, mature fans won't be around in 2057.....when they plan to release those EonTour DVD and Box.....Do you hear, southern boys?
Steve V wrote on March 27, 2007
Mature - I agree. the albums should be out there but it wont happen. Lets be realistic. When the orig albums came out in the 70's they didnt exactly burn up the charts. Good Times only reached #94! When they were put out on cd's in the late 80's, again, no real sales. So I dont think you will ever see them again except on FTD labels, expanded with bonus tracks because die hard fans are the only ones who will buy them. Its just not worth it for Sony/BMG to mass market them.
mature_elvis_fan75 wrote on March 27, 2007
Steve i know it wont happen,i guess its just wishful thinking on my part,i bought them back in the 90's,was hopeing there were more die hard fans who still went to cd shops,but i think thats another thing the way cd's are sold has changed things,id be intersted to know the sales numbers for the original albumscd in the late 80's early 90's!
Viva wrote on March 27, 2007
Well as usual from EPE, hundreds of words, but they don't say a damn thing. As for the 30th anniversary, while he worlds media will be there to cover the event, EPE will capitalise on this by proudly showing off their wonderful new banana flavour Peanut Butter, all washed down with a display of the biggest embarrasment to Elvis' name on the Graceland lawn. The press will have a field day; but sadly Elvis fans won't. And one last thing: I am sick to death of that bunch of emotionless parasites refering to Elvis as a brand: This clearly illustrates just how little they know or care about Elvis the man or his music.
JerryNodak wrote on March 27, 2007
I haven't gone to a music shop in years. In fact, the last remaining shop (as such) in my town, Sam Goody, closed up shop prior to Christmas '06. The only places to buy music here are the mega stores. Wal Mart, K-Mart, etc. They only carry the current, hot titles. I rarely go there. All my music shopping is now done on the Internet. Thank goodness for FTD. I have all the "Classic" album. releases. Definitely will buy the upcoming 50,000,000 Million Elvis Fans release.
JerryNodak wrote on March 27, 2007
Viva: As much as we fans would like to think that's it's all about the music and should only be about the music, in Elvis' case it has NEVER been that way. Elvis as a brand is nothing new. Elvis has been a brand since Heartbreak Hotel in '56.
Steve B. wrote on March 27, 2007
Jerry, You hit the nail right on the head. Sadly, very well said. Elvis was, is, and will always be a CASH COW!
mature_elvis_fan75 wrote on March 28, 2007
Jerry i know what you mean,its same way everywere i guess,stores like best buy and even circuit city who use to carry alot of elvis titles now have one row if that,that has happen in the last few years,it much easier to sell online because that way you can offer so much more instead of having to decide what goes on the shelf and whats not selling, the internet has changed everything,as for elvis being a cash cow, i couldnt agree more,isnt this after all the reason they think of remixes and such to get his music exposure while at the same time they offset those ideas with peanut butter cups, how do expect people to take the msuic series if this is how hes marketed!
RonBaker wrote on March 28, 2007
Things could have been oh so much better if they hadn't done Elvis 2 or Hitstory...then followed it with compilation after compilation. The only way to get the franchise (if you'd like to call it that) jump started again is the reported remix album...and, for heaven's sake, how about a cover that isn't disgustingly cheap!!!
JimmyCool wrote on March 29, 2007
Elvis® will always be the King, but older generations should teach that to the new ones. A whole lot of persons fill their mouth with comments and they only know "Jailhouse Rock" or "Don't be Cruel"... and some even think that he's the one singing "Be-Bop-A-Lula" (Gene Vincent), "Only You" (The Platters), "Oh, Pretty Woman" (Roy Orbison) and "Rock Around The Clock" (Bill Halley)... and that's sad. And he is not the fat butter-peanut-sandwich-eater guy with flashy clothes... He's the Artist Of The Century... Centuries! (20th and Beyond)
mature_elvis_fan75 wrote on March 29, 2007
Dont you think its great to put his image on peanut butter cups,to me its so tacky the same way i think when i see a singer or athlete put out a cologne,elvis is heard about and talked about alot, but usualy its not about his music,id be intersted to see a poll done on elvis fans and the age base,are there many young elvis fans? And how many!