The Fame Game
The Fame Game
Table of Content +

The world is witnessing a fast evolving market with a rush of competitive products entering in every day. Customers are in a quandary discerning which is best amongst them as all are equally good. They need more than just motivation and words of the salesman to build confidence in the product. Amongst popular marketing gimmicks to attract consumers, endorsements by popular celebrities top the list.

In close heels is Celebrity Licensing, which is emerging as the most lucrative business in recent times given the fact that 9 out of every 10 people would vouch for a product whose identity has a seal of their favourite idol. Further, it has been predicted that celebrity licensing is all set to rule the next era of the marketing concept. Celebrity licensing can be used either to position a new product in the market or to broaden the market of an already existing product and can be either Deceased Celebrity Licensing or Licensing of Living Celebrities.

Favourite categories There is no category untouched as licensing is spreading its wings to all possible product range be it lifestyle products, health and wellness category, real estate, hospitals, toys, school stationeries, entertainment or corporates etc.

The story this year Let us now see what is the fascination of Dead Celebrity licensing and its advantages over Living Celebrity Licensing? Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Yves St. Laurent and Michael Jackson are supposedly the biggest selling dead celebrities. This year, Michael Jackson took the No.1 spot on Forbes Top Earning Dead Celebrity 100 with gross earnings of $ 275 million. Coming in at No.2 is Elvis Presley with 60 million $.

Well, the dead celebrity ranks change each year and in most cases they are like old wine that betters with age. Moreover, lot also depends on how the celebrity has died. For example, if a celebrity dies a tragic death and at a young age, there is lot of immediate sympathy in the air which the business could cash on. Marylyn Monroe and Michael Jackson died young and abruptly, leaving us asking for more.

Through licensing, we are not only keeping them alive but also paying ode to them. Recently, I had a chance to chat with Michelle Minieri of Bradford Licensing where we both thought hard of one person who also died young but couldn't be licensed. Pronto Princess Diana came to our minds who could have fitted anywhere with her larger than life persona and a life millions would yearn to live, but we then abandoned the possibility on the grounds of Royal House's rules and restrictions of earning by way of practices they do not deem fit.

We will now see:

  • Licensing a dead celebrity
  • Less interference as the celebrity is dead.
  • Consistency in image. For example: A living celebrity who loses his market due to a personal problem also loses his credibility.
  • Emotional Bubble encashment (Like in Michael jackson's case) the markets want to see him everywhere.


  • No in- person endorsement.
  • No support in terms of material and assets (Limited assets).
  • Advantages of licensing a living celebrity
  • In- person endorsement.
  • Support in terms of material and assets.


  • Personal problems may affect his market.

According to Minieri, "The advantage of having a dead celebrity client is that there is no direct interference from them. And their popularity is more than the living celebrities thus the legends are consistent in the market. Whereas in the case of living celebrities, they interfere a lot, and their personal problems can have a direct impact on their salability, for example take Lindsay Lohan who is having a tough time recently with her addiction.

Sangeet Shirodkar of The Right Picture thinks that in India, currently, celebrity licensing is rampant but mostly it the game of Cricketers and Bollywood stars. Well, whether dead or alive, celebrity licensing doesn't stop to lure us, so take a leap in the game and rake in that desired moolah!

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