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Thursday, 2 July 2009

Worth more dead than alive?

Whether you’re in mourning for the ‘king of pop’ or not sure what all the fuss is about, there’s one thing you can be sure of – Michael Jackson’s estate is set to make a fortune after his untimely demise. Thriller has topped the charts decades after its first outing, items such as autographs and signed memorabilia are reportedly selling faster than ever, even dedicated website domains are up for grabs, and they’re not cheap.
I for one remember dancing badly around my bedroom using my hairbrush as a microphone to Billie Jean, but die hard fans bought and sold nearly 20,000+ items on eBay since Jackson’s death. Call me cynical, but people around the world are cashing in on what appears the be the biggest outlay of public grief since Princess Diana – R.I.P Michael mugs and t-shirts, glittery gloves (for one hand only of course) and special Fedora hats are cropping up everywhere. It just goes to show what power one single chap can have as a brand, and I predict, will have for many years to come.
This of course makes you wonder the sheer power of star quality – regardless of the star. Publisher and editor extraordinaire Francesca pointed out after a recent trip to Cuba that the image of Che Guevara is still prevalent – in fact it can be hard to turn the corner without seeing the iconic face symbolising for some, freedom and counterculture. It goes to show that you don’t just have to be a legendary actor or musician to have years of staying power. The original photograph was taken by Alberto Corda, and the current copyright status is still in a lengthy dispute. For a revolutionary activist to remain so alive in people’s minds and on their t-shirts is fairly rare – I haven’t bought my Karl Marx mug yet.
We covered some of the well-known figures such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash in the last issue of Total Licensing in our Legend and Celebrity spotlight. ( Naturally, many of the best-loved icons with enormous brand power are still alive and well; The Beckhams and Paris Hilton are two that spring to mind, but you have to wonder if we will still be seeing their faces on everyday items in fifty years time.

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