Elvis Looks to Win|
Teenage Fans Again
December 28, 2006 - Woody Baird (AP Writer)
Teenagers in the 1950s and '60s went wild over Elvis Presley, much
to the consternation of their parents, but kids in the new
millennium aren't so stirred by rock 'n' roll's original rebel.
"I can't try to sell somebody Elvis who doesn't know who he is ...
that he's not just some guy who's been gone for 30 years," said Paul
Jankowski, chief of marketing for Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc.
Next year, three decades after Presley's death, the multimillion
dollar Elvis business will try to connect with a new generation of
"Our opportunity demographic is really going to be 12 to 34 (years
old), with a sweet spot around the 18-to-24 area," Jankowski said.
In the early days of Presley's career, teenagers gathered at
jukeboxes or around 45-rpm turntables. But now the music has moved
to the Internet, on sites like MySpace, which is part of Rupert
Murdoch's News Corp., and Google Inc.'s YouTube.
Next year more film clips, photos and other material from the vast
Presley archives will be showing up online.
"We will take our MySpace page and we will focus on expanding our
number of friends on MySpace, that kind of thing," Jankowski
said. "There's all kind of Elvis content on YouTube, things that we
put up, things that fans put up."
MySpace is a social-networking site that lets visitors share photos
and personal Web pages. YouTube lets users post and share videos.
The Elvis archives offer a rich source of material for "digital
tactics," Jankowski said. "You know, for cell phones or doing
wallpaper or doing podcasts."
Moving Elvis content online should be easy; making Elvis cool again
will be more difficult. After all, for most kids, Elvis is the music
of their parents' - or grandparents' - generation.
Aaron O'Connell, a 17-year-old from Fredericksburg, Va., who was
visiting souvenir shops at Graceland, said it could be tough to make
Elvis relevant again.
"Probably in today's world, like, he wouldn't be as cool, but back
then he probably was," said O'Connell, a high school junior in town
for the Liberty Bowl football game.
Presley managers are preparing for a big year, particularly for the
weeklong series of concerts, fan-club gatherings and other death
anniversary events held each August at Graceland, which draws more
than 600,000 visitors annually.
Presley died of heart disease and prescription drug abuse at age 42
at Graceland on Aug. 16, 1977.
Elvis Presley Enterprises has more than 200 licensees producing
souvenirs and signature products, and new ones for 2007 will have a
youthful focus, like a peanut butter and banana cream candy bar from
Hershey with the King's picture on the wrapper.
A Harley-Davidson dealer, with plans to open an office at Graceland,
is coming out with a limited line of 30 custom-made motorcycles -
just like the ones Elvis rode.
Prices aren't yet set, but the one-of-a-kind Harleys could run up to
$50,000. And while that's well beyond the reach of most teenagers -
or Elvis fans in general - the replica bikes are also part of the
cool factor in Presley marketing.
"The new owners will be flown to Memphis and they'll pick their
bikes up at the steps of Graceland," Jankowski said.
Jankowski was brought to Memphis by CKX Inc., the company that took
over Elvis Presley Enterprises and Graceland after buying the rights
to Presley's name and image last year from daughter Lisa Marie.
Forbes magazine says Elvis, one of the top-grossing dead
celebrities, brought in $42 million over the past year. But with the
aging of Presley's longtime base of admirers, EPE needs a new wave
of younger fans.
"We want to reinvigorate our core demographic and grow it,"
Jankowski said, "while we introduce the icon to the next
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