Licensing Dean Martin: That's Amore!

Just in time for Halloween, Dean Martin has joined Kurt Cobain, Elvis Presley, Jerry Garcia and a parade of other lucrative corpses whose estates brokered licensing deals with large corporations to market their image, along with their music, worldwide.

EMI Music, which already owns the rights to the crooner/comedian's catalog of music on Capitol Records and Reprise Records, has partnered with the Dean Martin Trust to act as an agent for licensing his name, image and likeness for commercial, entertainment and other marketing purposes.

To Brent Poer, senior vice president of Connective Tissue, MediaVest's branded entertainment unit, Martin represents the Playboy demographic, most appropriate to sell vodka or other spirits or a certain type of car. "Cary Grant would be more debonair; Steve McQueen, the ultimate man's man. It's really harder for male-focused brands to find ... just one man who defines what you want to be."

"The interesting thing about this type of licensing is that, for women, there is really only one person who is cool and chic, and that's Audrey Hepburn," says Poer. "For men, it's really segmented depending on who they want to be."



The licensing deal could prove to be a winner for both the Martin estate and the products choose to partner with it, Poer says.

"For the estate, this will definitely get him back on the map, and that's a great thing. For people who choose to opt in early, it could be a boon or a bane. [Martin] may not resonate as much as someone who's been licensed longer," he notes. But the flip side--as a risk factor--Martin isn't as expensive. If he clicks, brands could "ride the wave of resurgence."

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