Cashing in on Jersey Shore fame
Originally published on CNN
"Jersey Shore" Cast
February 16, 2010
By Aaron Smith
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Mike Sorrentino, otherwise known as "The Situation" of MTV's "Jersey Shore," is hoping to get a cologne on the market that will smell like money.
His reality show cast mate, Jenni "JWOWW" Farley, is also planning a product launch -- a clothing line -- to capitalize on her growing recognition.
As Napoleon once said: "Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever." If the cast members of the popular program want to make some coin off their new-found fame, experts say they need to act fast.
"As long as the show stays popular, they've got time to be able to milk the market," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for apparel, footwear and accessories at NPD Group, which provides consumer market research. "You've got to strike while you can."
Thinking beyond the box
Tom Meyer, president of Davie Brown Entertainment, a marketing agency that produces an index measuring the popularity of stars, described the show as "a potential launching pad" that is essential to the future careers of the cast, "because the show is going to run out of gas at some point."
MTV has reportedly paid the cast $180,000 each for the upcoming season. They also pull in thousands of dollars for appearances at nightclubs and red carpet events. Sorrentino and Farley are stepping it up with product branding.
Farley has already been selling various products through her Web site, including diet supplements, posters of herself in sultry poses, and skimpy clothes mimicking the yellow torso-bandana she wore on the show.
"JWOWW is working it right now," said Meyer. "She's using fully her 15 minutes of fame to diversify."
The clothing vanished from her Web site last week, but her boyfriend-spokesman Tom Lippolis said the absence is temporary. In e-mails to CNNMoney.com, he said that Farley has discontinued sales "until the full clothing line is launched." That's supposed to happen after the trademarking and copyrighting is finalized this week, he said.
Selling 'The Sitch'
Experts on celebrity branding said that cologne is an appropriate product for the club-hopping Sorrentino, who told Access Hollywood at the Grammy Awards on Jan. 31 that he intends to launch his own fragrance, dubbed "The Sitch."
"He's not going to create a product that is so far from who he is that it's not going to make sense," said Meyer of Davie Brown Entertainment. "This is a guy who prides himself on his appearance and his ability to attract women, so a cologne makes sense."
The longevity of a scent line is typically short-lived, which also seems to fit Sorrentino's image, assuming that his fame won't last forever, said Karen Grant, vice president and global beauty industry analyst for NPD.
Brands in the $3 billion fragrance industry usually last just a few months, she noted, with the "absolute exception" of Elizabeth Taylor's White Diamonds, which has been on the market since 1990.
"Many fragrances, even after six months, start diminishing," said Grant. "It's almost like a fashion statement: It comes in for the season, and then it's gone. If someone's looking to get in it and get out, that's actually a very smart strategy."
Some of the most successful fragrance lines exceed $100 million in sales over a 12-month run, Grant said. But "The Sitch" would have a tough time getting anywhere near that, she pointed out, considering the "narrow reach" of the men's market, which is one-third the size of women's.
Sorrentino's manager, Michael Petalino of Gotham Casting, would not discuss his client's business plans with CNNMoney.com because he said that MTV was restricting media access to the "Jersey Shore" cast. MTV did not return messages asking about these restrictions.When he advises celebrities on marketing and branding, Cohen of NPD said they realize the value of branching into different businesses.
Diversification is key
"Every celebrity I talk to, the first words out of their mouth are: I want to diversify," he said. "In today's world, they all want to be a corporation. They all want to be a multi-faceted celebrity lifestyle capitalizing on this [fame.] Nobody's one-dimensional anymore."
So what advice does he have for the cast of "Jersey Shore?"
"I would suggest that, as they begin to get the fruits of their labor, and as they enjoy this newfound celebrity, they continue to find things to elevate themselves as a brand," he said.
But not everyone can share the success of a star like Paul Newman, whose "Newman's Own" food products are so successful and respected that they outlived him. Considering that most celebrities run the risk of fading into obscurity, Cohen tells them to "invest yourself in ventures that will live beyond your name."
In other words: Buy stock.
"It's not just about investing in your brand," said Cohen. "It's about investing in other companies."