USC Master's Thesis - Celebrity and the Value of Death (by Aaron Settipane)
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USC Master's Thesis - Celebrity and the Value of Death (by Aaron Settipane)



Exploring the theory and concept of the value a celebrity has in life and after death. Submitted as a Master's Thesis to the University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication and ...

Exploring the theory and concept of the value a celebrity has in life and after death. Submitted as a Master's Thesis to the University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.



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USC Master's Thesis - Celebrity and the Value of Death (by Aaron Settipane) Document Transcript

  • 1. Running Head: CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 1 Celebrity and the Value of Death Aaron D. Settipane Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism University of Southern California Paper submitted as partial fulfillment of requirements for CMGT 597: Communication Research Practicum Fall 2011 Copyright © 2011 Aaron D. Settipane – All Rights Reserved (TXu 1-813-229)
  • 2. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 2 Celebrity and the Value of Death Every society has forms of religion which are pervasive in most peoples’ lives. Legends,time-honored tales and storied institutions featuring icons of those religions are being slowlyreplaced in modern culture by more tangible heroes and heroines from common society. Theseheroes are elevated to levels once only thought to be the domain of religious saints, with tales ofthese heroes syndicated worldwide at speeds never before experienced in previous societies(Ebert, 2010). Modern society has had celebrities for decades. However, the 21st century hasengaged celebrity in ways never seen before, where celebrities have become ubiquitousworldwide icons through mass media. Advances in technology at rates not seen in the previous100 years have created a societal anomaly (Kurzweil, 2001) which has aided in the mass-manufacture of celebrity across societies around the world. These advances have made thecelebrity a larger-than-life figure, with far more detail about their personal lives available than inpast decades (Ebert, 2010). Celebrities have always been “stars”. Given the popularity of new technology such associal media and new forms of video and audio entertainment distribution (e.g., distribution ofmedia to devices other than the home television or terrestrial radio), modern celebrity hastransformed into a multi-media, multi-screen venture. Celebrities have now become “electronicmedia superstars” (not just “stars” or “superstars”) due to the mass-transmission of the mediaproduct in which they have become famous (Ebert, 2010, p. xix). Their ubiquity permeatesnearly all facets of society on a daily basis, which can elicit mass admiration, devotion anddedication to the celebrity by its fans, or consumers. Such fanatical adoration, Ebert (2010)argued, is a perception meticulously constructed through the celebrity’s public image by thecelebrity’s followers (and handlers), rivaling the levels of influence once held by religious
  • 3. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 3institutions. This fanatical devotion to the celebrity has been harnessed to transform the celebrityfrom a merely famous person with a fan club, into a lucrative business, capable of mass-exploitation on a global level. The modern celebrity can be considered a product of both the entertainment industry aswell as the journalism and publicity industries working in concert with each other. Theygenerate value to the consumer (and salability of the celebrity) as they sell specifically structuredstories, which are exploited via various mass media outlets (Babcock & Whitehouse, 2005).Regardless of how the celebrity originated, modern businesses see the living celebrity’s value interms of the audience response from which businesses (or more accurately, the brand of thebusiness) could potentially gain. Once celebrity is established in a person, the celebrity obtains atangible economic value. Many companies strive to capitalize on the economic value of thecelebrity’s opinion for their brands. Favorable opinions or positive reviews from a popularcelebrity can aid in the overall growth of a brand or product, as measured in raw sales numbers,revenue figures and mass appeal (Agrawal & Kamakura, 1995). These endorsements can proveto be economically powerful in the short-run for brands, such as the return of Michael Jordanfrom baseball to basketball, which became a multi-million dollar event for brands related toJordan’s various endorsements (Mathur, Mathur & Rangan, 1997). Conversely, some celebrityendorsements can damage a brand in the short-run. For example, international retailer H&Mterminated its relationship with British supermodel Kate Moss due to Moss’ publicized allegeddrug use (Silverman, 2005). The celebrity’s personal instabilities, in terms of their demeanor,decorum, conduct, including criminality and/or civil disobedience may prove damaging tobrands (Petty & D’Rosario, 2009).
  • 4. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 4 If a celebrity’s value can be measured in diverse ways (including but not limited to areasof brand relationships and societal influence) and such value is derived from equally variedways, how can the value of the celebrity be cultivated? Further, does such value continue pastthe living celebrity’s death, requiring additional preservation? The job of the manager, agent andpublicist, aside from keeping the celebrity actively employed and engaged, is to meticulouslycraft the image of the celebrity in society through roles in feature film and television product, aswell as through strategic appearances and brand alliances – and maintain that image throughoutthe celebrity’s career (i.e., control it, at a level where the value can continue to grow) (Turner,2004). By managing the value of the celebrity responsibly and strategically, the value of thecelebrity will develop and grow over time, sometimes incrementally, while other timesexponentially. The celebrity, at this point, through the celebrity’s name, becomes a brand, notunlike any other brand such as Nike, Tiffany & Co., or Louis Vuitton. The brand requirescontrolled strategic management and specific image cultivation. The brand also requires to beconstantly thrust positively in the public forum so that its value continues to be enhanced andincreased, while balancing the ebbs and flows of public interest (Turner, 2004). Names such asNike and Tiffany & Co. convey positive connotations to their customers; therefore certaincelebrities should also convey positive, congruent connotations which are representative of theendorsing brand (Dalton, 2007). However, what if the celebrity dies? Can a celebrity be more valuable in death than inlife? Dead celebrities have the advantage of having a fixed, sometimes iconic public image.Upon death, their public image is frozen in its last, positively cultivated state. The dead celebrityis not subject to ongoing risk like public embarrassment involving wardrobe-malfunctions,unflattering club-exiting photographs or insensitive commentary at an inappropriate time (Petty
  • 5. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 5& D’Rozario, 2009). Further, Petty and D’Rozario (2009) provided that the dead celebrity brandcan often be a safer, cheaper alternative to employ, in some manner, than live celebrities, thusavoiding those potentially unforeseen and potentially damaging publicity issues, thereby bothfurthering brand enhancement and positive associations with the brand. The value of the deadcelebrity collectibles, for instance, is usually at peak value within the first couple of years afterthe celebrity’s death (Piazza, 2011). Celebrities, especially eclectic, artistic types, are often themost desired and pursued endorsement types in death (Piazza, 2011). When an artist like KurtCobain can sell over a quarter-million copies of Rolling Stone magazine after his death, simplyby having his photograph appear on the cover of the magazine, death becomes simply the nextstage in a celebrity’s career, moving from life into legacy (Houze, 1994; Bunn, 2000). Continuing into the 21st century, the notion of death and celebrity as a business is agrowing industry. No longer does death spell the cessation of the celebrity’s career, as thecelebrity can realize a lucrative career after death, administered by the celebrity’s estate ormanagement through use of the law and the creative employment of copyrights and trademarks(Petty & D’Rozario, 2009). Recently, two of the largest online music retailers reported triple-digit growth in sales compared to the previous week, with double-digit growth reported in theaverage unit sale price per item just after Michael Jackson’s untimely death (Yan & Kitchen,cited in Sanderson & Cheong, 2010). In a 2009 report, the Hollywood Reporter stated thatJackson had earned “more in the past year than any living celebrity except Oprah Winfrey”(Bond, 2010, para. 1). Death not only can present immediate financial gain for the celebrity’sestate and management, but it can also be fortuitous for the long-term interests of the celebrity’sestate and management. For instance, “Elvis was worth $7 million when he died. Now he’s a$100 million a year industry” (Jensen, 1995, para. 3). There are numerous cases where notable
  • 6. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 6dead celebrities have earned far more money than they had earned while alive. In 2011 alone,dead celebrities have generated billions of dollars in revenues, with no sign of declining (Klara,2011). Other notable dead celebrities generating high revenue deals include J.R.R. Tolkein,Charles Schultz, and Stieg Larsson – all garnering eight-figure paydays (Bond, 2010; Greenburg& Paine, 2010). Given the strength of a celebrity’s worth in terms of pure future financialviability, brand endorsement worth, and consumer attraction, it would seem that the potentialvalue of the celebrity should not be lost upon death, but enhanced by the automatic scarcity ofsupply of the celebrity due to death. What characteristics exist in certain celebrities that captureand enamor society? Why do certain celebrities possess a charming timelessness, compared toother celebrities, and compared to the average person in society, which allows them to profitfinancially over others. In death, what is the value of the celebrity? Furthermore, what makes acelebrity valuable that their economic and emotional value may increase after death? Celebrities, Values and BrandsBranding & Longevity Brands are generally regarded as popular products or companies; however celebrities arealso brands (Silverstein, 2007). Celebrities, Silverstein (2007) concluded, are a different kind ofbrand which can achieve the longevity to which most brands aspire. Living celebrities canbenefit from association with brands, in the same way that brands can benefit from theseassociations. Nevertheless, living celebrities are hampered by their humanity. Their propensityto get into trouble or engage in other potentially damaging discourse can conceivablycompromise a brand and its equity in connection with the brand’s consumer base (Behr &Beeler-Norrholm, 2006). Dead celebrities, especially those celebrities who maintained a clean,trouble-free image throughout their careers, manage to continue their career, after death, as
  • 7. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 7legally protected trademarks and copyrights (Behr & Beeler-Norrholm, 2006). These celebrities,Behr and Beeler-Norrholm (2006) argued, are elevated from their existence as a dead celebrity,into a brand where consumers forget that the brand was ever the name of a person. Lacosteclothing is generally regarded as one of the most familiar and long-standing trademarks inmodern sportswear, generating billions of euros in sales every year. Yet, many either do notknow, or are not familiar with Rene Lacoste, the world championship-winning tennis player whoinnovated many improvements to the game of tennis, including a certain tennis shirt (Behr &Beeler-Norrholm, 2006). Societies all over the world have extolled certain people as celebrities.These celebrities are people who garner, through their looks, their mannerisms, their talents, orother intrinsic factors, an increased amount of attention. This attention produces distinctpreoccupations, near euphoric excitement, and anticipation in what these certain people will ormay do next (Summers & Johnson Morgan, 2008). Such overemphasis on the individualgenerates a type of “hero worship” which, in turn, can be leveraged by strategically harnessingthe fame and adoration for monetary gain (Bouzeos, 1989). In order for a dead celebrity to haveany kind of value, the celebrity must be created and crafted while living, harnessing suchcharacteristics like “hero worship” in order to have long-term success, even after death. Beyond this notion of hero-worship is longevity and legacy. Celebrities want to beremembered. Multi-decade pop-star Madonna once declared, “I want longevity as a humanbeing. I want it to last forever…” (Taraborelli, 2001, p. 90). Many celebrities strive to achievethis goal. Hotel heiress Paris Hilton is considered by some to be a “post-modern celebrity” as sheis famous for nothing else but being a famous person who is famous (Behr & Beeler-Norrholm,2006). At the same time, Hilton, besides being a living brand in her own right, as the namesakeof the Hilton Hotel brand, cultivated an impregnable personal brand, built upon a well-known
  • 8. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 8and understood level of expectation for her consumers. Through the use of Paris Hilton’s well-publicized misbehaviors in public and on video, coupled with meticulous image crafting in themedia (whether positively or negatively) to harness the publicity, consumers of Hilton’s productsare keenly aware of what the Hilton brand represents (however low the expectational benchmarkmay be relatively set) (Behr & Beeler-Norrholm, 2006). This allowed Hilton to have certainfreedoms: consumers absolutely know what to expect when her Hilton brand is involved, andconsumers know what to expect from a product when she endorses another brand. These factorshave contributed to the enduring nature of her brand, as evidenced by continued retail successes,including a clothing line, shoes, perfume, hair extensions, retail stores, party guesting and realestate ventures (VanSickle, 2011). Through these brand associations and ventures, Hilton is ableto cultivate and maintain a long lasting legacy – the longevity she craved. Brands, like celebrities, are things which vie for positive attention from consumers. Bycreating business relationships with celebrities, brands can benefit from the synergies betweenthe celebrity’s positive influence with the consumer. In turn, the celebrity can benefit from thebrand’s existing positive credit and influence with consumers (Petty & Cacioppo, cited in Byrne,Whitehead, & Breen, 2003). By maintaining relationships with other brands, dead celebritiescan cultivate longevity beyond that which made them famous during their lifetimes.Celebrity as a Brand The entertainment industry relies upon hero worship every time a new feature film,television series, webisode or other media product is released to the public. Celebrity may benothing more than a type of brand which relies upon a societal spark, or hero worship, whichmakes someone become a celebrity. Once someone is a celebrity, they can merchandise orotherwise harness their celebrity into financial gain (Turner, 2004). Creating and maintaining
  • 9. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 9celebrity relies upon a positive public image. Crafting a positive public image that resonates insociety generating powerful economic results has become big business in the entertainmentindustry, and is usually handled by a small army of outside parties: managers, publicists, andagents (Turner, 2004). The influence of living celebrities on a brand (and sometimes the brandon the celebrity) allows for the living celebrity to reinvigorate a brand or legitimize a brand,reassuring/reminding the consumer of the quality of the endorsed brand (Abbot et al., cited inBryne et al., 2003). Celebrities exist because they also serve a purpose beyond hero worship. Consumers arecompelled to seek some escape or respite from the tediousness of their bland existence (Wann,cited in Chia & Poo, 2008). Celebrities can also provide an opportunity for brands, throughcelebrity partnerships, to engage in enhancements in the quality of life for consumers. Bycreating brand alliances with celebrities, the celebrity cultivates his/her value through the valueof the partnership. Brands then can leverage the notion of “the celebrities’ entertainment value”(Stever, cited in Chia & Poo, 2008, p. 5) and create new value for both their brand and for thecelebrity brand. In a survey in 1986, “90% of the top 10 people whom teenagers wanted to belike were entertainers” (Cowen, cited in Chia & Poo, 2008 p. 2). Given that there is such acompulsion for people in society to idolize, adore and connect in some way with celebrities,there is intrinsic and monetary value in that relationship upon which brands can capitalize.Unfortunately, there is a dearth of information, analysis, and academic understandingsurrounding the economic impact of celebrity (Seno & Lucas, 2007), and in the retail effect ofcelebrity endorsement (Byrne et al., 2003). However, certain levels of economic performanceand intrinsic value can be extrapolated by looking at other key factors found in dead celebritieswhich can suggest a value proposition once a celebrity has passed on.
  • 10. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 10 The Value of Dead Celebrities Since living celebrities tend to be marred by misbehaviors which result in salaciousheadlines, dead celebrities have the advantage of a solidified and reliable image, untarnishableby media aspersion or other such commentary, and an overall cost which may be thousands lessthan the current hot celebrity (Petty & D’Rozario, 2009). Dead celebrities are often defined bytheir achievements or notoriety prior to death, which cements their brand. It is this combinationof notoriety and brand worth in life, which suggests the value of the celebrity posthumously.Consumers remember the celebrity’s greatest achievements or emotionally powerfulperformances rather than the celebrity’s eccentricities, especially when the celebrity’s estate ormanagement strategically crafts and maintains the celebrity image. Such case can be illustratedwith the loss of pop-star Michael Jackson and other celebrities. These recollections sparknostalgia. Such nostalgia is fuelled by the emotion of loss and disconnection with the celebritycreating intangible demand for the dead celebrity brand.Economic Value in Death The business surrounding dead celebrities is often very lucrative. The strength in thedead celebrity lies not just in the brand equity created by the celebrity while alive, but in thescarcity created in death. Dead celebrities can invoke a strong sense of incurable nostalgia in theconsumer. Whether by the notion of remembering the positive times in a consumer’s experience,or by vicariously reliving and re-experiencing the glamour or danger that a dead celebrity onceembodied, dead celebrity brands are able to connect with consumers of every generation with atleast one celebrity iconic to that generation. A dead celebrity who is iconic to a generationbecomes a financial asset. Just after the announcement of the death of Michael Jackson,thousands began to mourn his loss – by shopping., for instance, reported CD and
  • 11. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 11digital sales hundreds of times over the normal volume, with Jackson’s albums dominating thetop sales categories on the website (Timpane, cited in Sanderson & Cheong, 2010, p. 329).People remembered him for his artistic creations, not storied antics. While living, Jackson wasunderstood to have been in severe debt, but after death, the premiere of his last film alone wasprojected to generate almost half a billion dollars worldwide – and that’s before the memorabiliaand album sales are factored in (Buss, 2009). Although the pop star was gone, his brand showedrenewed vitality and strength which vaulted Jackson to the Forbes’ Top Earning DeadCelebrities list after Jackson’s first year of death (Greenburg & Paine, 2010). Nevertheless, such successes are not common. Few celebrities have vast estatesgenerating millions of dollars long after death, fueled by mass fan nostalgia. Many celebritieshave simple estates with no massive infrastructure attached with the sole purpose of makingmoney, which are then bequeathed to relatives. For instance, surprisingly simple estatestructures can be found with actress Brittany Murphy and with Australian actor Heath Ledger;these highly-successful actors do not have massive licensing engines generating revenues(Mayoras & Mayoras, 2010; Ebeling, 2009). These actors’ estates are successful, but not on amass scale – there are no brands attached to them, nor were they firmly attached to a brand.Ledger is now relegated to passing comparisons with another dead star, James Dean (“One YearLater, Ledger’s Legacy Still Growing”, 2009). Alternatively, some equally beloved celebritiessimply made business mistakes: Jimi Hendrix never wrote a will; Marlon Brando made oralpromises without documenting any such promises; Princess Diana relied upon a “letter ofwishes” instead of a legally binding will (Ebeling, 2009). Nevertheless, all of these celebritiesremain beloved in society.
  • 12. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 12 Some celebrities are not the economic powerhouses that one may expect. Oneexplanation is brand associations and brand equity. In this analysis, it has been established thatcelebrity worth is more effectively built by combining brand recognition and celebrity throughbrand relationships (e.g., endorsements). This synergy with endorsements can garner strongprofits to the brands being endorsed, while also enhancing the worth and recognition of thecelebrity through the use of the brand. Further the dead celebrity’s economic worth can beinitially determined by the value of the endorsement deals (whether active or inactive).Additionally, celebrity/brand endorsements can also validate a celebrity to consumers.Consumers may believe a brand has more worth because a certain celebrity uses or endorsessuch brand. Conversely, a celebrity can gain more worth because a high-quality, high-equitybrand is being endorsed or used by a celebrity. This transaction creates mutual advantages forboth the celebrity and the brand in terms of an exchange of high consumer equity and high valuewhich benefits both parties (Halonon-Knight & Hurmerinta, 2010). Preparation and meticulousimage building with a living celebrity is essential in translating high consumer equity value tothe dead celebrity. Then the valuable image of the living celebrity can be harvested andtranslated into creating strong posthumous brand equity, from the strong brand associations inlife. There is, however, a dearth of academic research in connection with translation ofconsumer equity value to the dead celebrity, and should be a subject for further research (Seno &Lucas, 2007; Byrne et al., 2003; Halonen-Knight & Hurmerinta, 2010). Management companies, usually as a partnership with the estate, are charged with,among other duties, maintaining and maximizing the brand equity of the dead celebrity. This cancome, for instance, by continuing previous brand associations, or by starting new ones. Strongmanagement ensures the reliability and bankability of the dead celebrity, especially in light of a
  • 13. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 13living celebrity who might “pull a Tiger Woods” and damage existing brand associations (Klara,2011, para. 2). A recently deceased celebrity, Elizabeth Taylor, did not neglect the business sideof her celebrity, and, upon her death, Taylor had a multifarious number of licensing andendorsement deals still active, which were meticulously constructed by the cadre ofrepresentatives whom she had employed (Piazza, 2011). It is not enough that a celebrity had adegree of fame, fortune and adoration while living. Once dead, fans focus on the talents, skills,successes and happiness in the celebrity’s life and internalize these experiences, which can aidgreatly in the valuation of the dead celebrity. Each dead celebrity brand adds value to theindustry overall, currently valued at over two billion dollars per year in revenues, which includesnotable dead celebrity brands such as Marilyn Monroe, Bob Marley, Elvis Presley and AlbertEinstein (Klara, 2011).Maintaining Value after Death Dead celebrities continue to generate revenues and create value in death because of theassociation in the consumer’s mind. This association should be cultivated and maintained by theestate and its managers for the dead celebrity brand to flourish. As Petty and D’Rozario (2009)argued, estates often fail to properly maintain the intrinsic elements which made the celebritybeloved, for the sake of cashing in on some of that potentially enormous endorsement money.The effect of this can result in anything from trademark dilution to offending the dead celebrity’sfan base. In the case of Fred Astaire dancing with a Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner in the famous1997 commercial, the Astaire fan base voiced its displeasure, finding the commercialization ofhis image reprehensible (Laurens, cited in Petty & D’Rozario, 2009). Theoretically, Petty andD’Rozario (2009) argued that failure to properly maintain the image of the dead celebrity canalso occur because an estate may simply lose interest or may become apathetic to the rigors of
  • 14. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 14maintaining the brand image and product image of the celebrity, especially after manygenerations (Petty & D’Rozario, 2009). There are examples where this maintenance has enhanced the celebrity as a brand. Asidefrom the aforementioned Lacoste brand, similar success can be found in luxury fashion designbrand Yves Saint Laurent, the namesake of which was a famous French clothing designer; luxuryfashion retailer Dior, the namesake, Christian Dior, was a cutting edge haute couture designer;composers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, whose composing talents were reflected inworks such as Oklahoma and The Sound of Music are a brand which denotes the classicAmerican musical; and finally Michael Crichton, whose name is synonymous with gripping,high-drama stories (Hare, 2009). All of these dead celebrities had established valuable brands inlife. After death, the lucrative value in the celebrity name, as a brand, can be found in marketingany related product (such as a new Broadway opening of Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s TheSound of Music), or in the enduring sales of Yves Saint Larent and Dior retail products, includingthe maintenance of both brands as a high-end, luxury experience. Consumers still associatepositive experiences with each brand, thus perpetuating the value and strength of these brandslong after the celebrity has died. The name continues to endure decades later, as in the time-honored dead celebrity brand of Walt Disney, synonymous with positive family entertainmentand experiences.Future Economic Value Consumers maintain positive associations with a celebrity after the celebrity has died, asconsumers did when the celebrity was alive. Whether the reasons are nostalgia or the desire toassociate themselves with the brand image that the celebrity name conveys, consumers continueto return and consistently patronize the celebrity brands. However, the consumer marketplace is
  • 15. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 15fickle, and dead celebrities do fall out of favor, or out of touch with modern realities. It is theresponsibility of the estate or brand manager to continually supervise consumer sentiment andadjust to changing market pressures in order to maintain the highest possible value for the deadcelebrity brand in the current and future markets (Behr & Beeler-Norrholm, 2006). The value ofdeath varies with the maintenance of the celebrity’s brand, with continued diligent efforts togrow and improve the brand with long-term brand strategies in play (Dalton, 2007). Nostalgia. One key strength of the dead celebrity brand is consumer nostalgia.Celebrities have traditionally been used to enhance brands through endorsements because of thehigher positive consumer acknowledgements versus brands without any celebrity endorsements(Byrne et al., 2003). To understand the intangible strength of nostalgia, one must understand hownostalgia interacts with and shapes the consumer. Nostalgia is directly connected to theconsumer’s identity and esteem; it gives the consumer a sense of being and a social attachment toother consumers through relatable experiences (Sedikides, Wildschut, & Baden, 2004).Nostalgia also counters consumer’s sense of a bland existence, as it can provide an escape to aonce better place in the past (Sedikides, et al., 2004). In other words, celebrities can provide adirect connection to one’s past experiences, whether they be fond childhood memories or ofbetter times where people felt life was easier, better or worth more (Kershaw, 2009). Theseintangible connections are made by every consumer, and every consumer’s experience attaches avalue proposition to the celebrity. Because nostalgia is tied to identity, the consumer celebratesthe highs and lows of the celebrity’s life, as if it were their own. When a celebrity dies, there is adisruption in this continuity: the vicarious experiences are terminated and the notion of identityand self-esteem are realized to be mortal to the consumer (Gibson, 2007). Therefore, when acelebrity dies, the death becomes a time of collective reflection, identity re-affirmation and a
  • 16. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 16collective realization that the celebrity is human, mortal and not infallible or invulnerable(Gibson, 2007). Nostalgia is triggered when a consumer remembers their positive experiencesand relates or attaches their personal positive experiences to the celebrity. Nostalgia can be apositive, negative or neutral emotion, depending on how the consumer attached their experiencesto the celebrity (Sedikides, et al., 2004). Management of the dead celebrity must comprehendhow the consumer’s experiences relate and connect to the dead celebrity brand. With such anunderstanding, management can connect with consumers and give them valuable experienceopportunities through endorsements or other exploitations. Consumers then ideally affirm theirnostalgia of the dead celebrity brand by purchasing the experience (i.e., a consumer good like abook or re-release movie) or purchasing the endorsed product (i.e., Audrey Hepburn’s GAPadvertisement for black jeans) (“Test Pattern: Hepburn falls into The Gap”, 2006). A tightly controlled image of the living celebrity can make the celebrity seem bigger thanlife. The celebrity would be elevated to becoming the consumer’s hero, champion or symbol ofsome better existence (Gibson, 2007), all based on what was specifically constructed for theconsumer to internalize. Marilyn Monroe had a tumultuous personal life; however most of thosecircumstances were suppressed, even after death, while her managers continued to maintain herglamorous image by limiting Monroe’s access to the general public while alive (except forimportant award events, etc.), and continued such practices with her image immediately afterdeath, in an effort to preserve her stardom (Currid-Halkett, 2010). Consumers from all aroundthe world felt attachment, remorse and nostalgia when Princess Diana died and when KurtCobain died – two different people, two different times, both with similar reactions to the loss ofthe living celebrity (Gibson, 2007). Celebrity, Currid-Halkett (2010) argued, is an enlargedversion of the day-to-day existence of people in society and people can connect in various and
  • 17. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 17differing ways to positive and negative experiences of the living celebrity. In death, thenostalgia of the celebrity’s positive and negative experiences is what attaches the consumer tosome of their own, unique experiences. This attachment by the consumer to the dead celebritybolsters the viability of the dead celebrity as a brand. Consumers can relate and internalize theexperience of the dead celebrity brand and re-imagine the glamor of the past. By creating certainstrategic alliances with other brands which are congruent to the values of the dead celebritybrand, economic capitalization can be achieved at what has proven to be a large scale. Thenostalgia of the loss and of the experiences creates value propositions in the dead celebrity brandwith the consumer. Technology. Technology today has the power of resurrecting dead celebrities in waysnever before contemplated. Cashing in on the nostalgia of the golden days of Hollywood or onthe riveting talents of now-bygone talents, visual effects companies, aided by new advances in3D and 2D visual compositing, are finding new ways of bringing these dead celebrity icons tolife (Carlson, 2004). With the use of this new technology, dead celebrity brands can, not only bebreathed back to life, but be resurrected in a nearly-tangible fashion, restoring the beauty,nuances and charm once wielded by the celebrity in his/her heyday. The notion of a new filmstarring Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and Elvis Presley is not unfounded given theadvancements in technology. Already there have been appearances by Lawrence Oliver, and thatMonroe/Dean pairing is in negotiation and is actively being developed (Carlson, 2004; Dalton,2007). Other companies, such as 3DMaxMedia and PentaMedia Graphics, have been workingon resurrecting two of the most famous Indian dead celebrities, M G R and Raj Kapor since theyear 2000 (Bunn, 2000). Visual effects may grow the market for dead celebrity brands in theyears ahead, especially by partnering with key brand alliances in providing safe, valuable, and
  • 18. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 18enduring icons, perhaps digitally, to champion new and classic brands. Banking on partnostalgia and part “movie magic,” bringing iconic dead celebrity brands to life is unventuredterritory with lucrative possibilities. Additionally, such endeavors are crucial in keeping the deadcelebrity brand refreshed, current and relevant (Gellene, cited in Petty & D’Rozario, 2009; Petty& D’Rozario, 2009) enabling the value of the brand to flourish for years to come. Given thisnew reality (or near reality), death ceases to be the end of a celebrity’s career, but rather theopening of a new phase. The new technological solutions on the horizon, should give pause toliving celebrities in terms of how they want to be marketed and re-imagined after death (Dalton,2007). Japanese pop-star Hatsune Miku – a 3D hologram – played to sold out stadium concertsall over Japan (Saenz, 2010). Hence, the notion of creating new concert events by Kurt Cobainand Michael Jackson has lucrative revenue potentials, especially if their celebrity brands remainundiluted over time. These events are rooted in the value of the dead celebrity brand and thenostalgia of the popularity of the iconic artists of the time. Other possibilities which can enabledead celebrity brands to grow is illustrated by Japanese all-girl pop band AKB 48, who recentlydebuted a new band member via a candy commercial – a band member who does not physicallyexist, but was composited using digitized features of the other band members to form a new bandmember, complete with a full personality, likes, dislikes and a background bio (Murray, 2011).The potential of real digital re-animation of dead celebrities is truly on the horizon. The literature review has shown that brand management, both in life and thereafter, iscritical to the continued positive growth and association of the dead celebrity brand. The valueof death in celebrity varies directly with not only the accomplishments of the celebrity in life, butalso with the value in associating with key strategic brands which enhance the brand equity ofthe living celebrity brand. Moreover, once in death, the celebrity brand can capitalize through
  • 19. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 19the scarcity caused by the loss (death), by the intangible of consumer nostalgia, and by strategic,directed brand management. Without the estate or managers meticulously maintaining the brandluster of the dead celebrity by creating new licensing and brand association structures, theeconomic value of the dead celebrity may never materialize. Years of preparation in celebrityimage management contributes to the overall growth and development of the celebrity whenalive. It is no different after death. Celebrity cultivation still requires strong management; imageguidance and the necessity for brand alliances with other brands to maintain grow and developcontinued value in death. Methods The analysis consisted of one case study of the management of an iconic celebrity who iscurrently deceased: Marilyn Monroe. This celebrity broke into the mainstream between the1950s and 1960s. Monroe attained a relatively high level of industry success; however shegarnered a disproportionately high level of fame during these years and beyond. The MarilynMonroe estate has controlled the Monroe brand since her death, having licensed certainmanagement rights to a few companies over the years. The aim of the case study is to determinethe fundamental reasoning why this celebrity gained a higher economic value in death than inlife.Units of Analysis The study analyzed Marilyn Monroe in the context of her economic value in life, and hereconomic value in death. In connection therewith, the analysis shall observe the following unitsof analysis:  Comparative background of Marilyn Monroe and a summary analysis of her achievements while alive, including economic performance of the projects she starred in,
  • 20. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 20 her business policies and strategies (as an analysis of the establishment of value).  Circumstances surrounding the termination of Monroe’s career (as a final establishment of value while alive), including her death and the achievements/accolades she garnered before death.  Management by the Estate after Monroe’s death in terms of economic performance, including licensing and sales endeavors, intellectual property rights management, policies and strategies. Each unit of analysis was analyzed in terms of how much an effect each unit has had onthe value of Monroe after her death. The study used these units of analysis to determine theeffectiveness of Monroe’s management in creating strong posthumous value in the MarilynMonroe brand. From the results of the study, the data was analyzed to synthesize the results ofthe decisions made by the Estate of Marilyn Monroe in creating value in death for Monroe.Drivers of Analysis In connection with the aforementioned units of analysis, there are certain drivers, orcatalysts, of these units which should be factored in, as they influence the units of analysis. Thisanalysis shall include these key drivers, such as:  The value of key talent and experience of both the Monroe management company and the execution of the Estate of Marilyn Monroe, including experience in brand management, managing celebrity assets, and licensing management. The experience factor found behind the Monroe management is a driver of differing levels of success, through the differing strategy methods and execution.  The value of the “icon” as a brand enhancement. Monroe’s popularity stemmed from her unique connection with her audience. Her sex appeal was generally known, publicized
  • 21. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 21 and marketed; and even after death, has buttressed her value, since she died relatively young while still in her prime.  The value of the “troubled story” as a driver of attraction to each star. Monroe’s background and formative years were tumultuous and emotionally damaging, yet she rose to be one of the biggest stars of the time, while embodying the glamour and treachery of Hollywood. Stories of Monroe’s antics on set and off, also are a contributing factor to the lure of the Monroe brand, as such anecdotes fuel mystery surrounding Monroe’s death. Each driver shall be analyzed in connection with their related unit(s) of analysis toprovide a clear, distinct picture of the structure of Monroe’s posthumous success and longevityand providing insight as to effectiveness of the management styles of the Estate and its licensedrepresentatives. By then analyzing the strategies of the Estate and its licensed representatives, thestudy can then provide insight as to the reasons for levels of success for the Monroe celebritybrand.Criteria and Data The criteria for this analysis included referencing key historical and strategic informationfrom the relative, applicable time periods, including using intellectual property rightsinformation from current representatives, analyzed against previously established businessconventions by Monroe herself. The analysis is based upon one the most iconic and establishedcelebrity brands from the late twentieth century: Marilyn Monroe. One of the most replicated and glorified images of the twentiethcentury, Marilyn Monroe was one of the most iconic actresses of the modern era. Her filmsgrossed more than $200 million domestically (Biography, 2011). Monroe has consistently been
  • 22. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 22ranked by Forbes among the top ten dead celebrity earners since 2001 (Fong & Lau, 2001;Schiffman, 2002; DiCarlo, 2003; DiCarlo & Patsuris, 2004; Kafka, 2005; Rose, Hau, & Shupak,2006; Goldman & Ewalt, 2007; Noer, Ewalt & Hoy, 2008; Pomerantz, Rose, Streib, & Thibault,2009; Greenberg & Paine, 2010). A striking icon, Monroe rose to fame as a sexy, dingy blondewhose movies captivated audiences around the world (Biography, 2011). She garnered GoldenGlobe Awards in 1954, 1960 and 1962, and a BAFTA award in 1956, and two BAFTAnominations for performances from several of her 30 films made between 1950 and 1961 (CMGWorldwide, n.d.d). Monroe was listed by the AFI as the sixth greatest female American ScreenLegend of all time (American Film Institute, n.d.) and as the 14th greatest screen performance inthe feature film Some Like It Hot (1959) (American Film Institute, 2004). Monroe died in 1962of suspicion of a drug overdose (Biography, 2011). Monroe’s estate was bequeathed to Lee Strasberg, her former acting teacher. After hisdeath, Strasberg willed Monroe’s estate to his widow, Anna Strasberg (Marilyn Monroe, n.d.).Strasberg vigorously enforced Monroe’s posthumous rights of publicity and certain copyrightsthrough the courts and sold certain representation rights to CMG Worldwide, administered byCEO Mark Roesler. Such rights were recently sold for between $20-30 million to Toronto-basedJamie Salter of Authentic Brands Group, which included National Entertainment Collectibles,Inc., with Anna Strasberg as a minority partner in the overall venture (Whitman, 2011). For thepurpose of this case study, analysis was made of the business decisions in creating revenuestreams of the Marilyn Monroe brand to determine the economic strength of the brand. Thisincluded analysis of licensing and merchandising rights and policies of Monroe’s name andimage, movie sales and domestic gross over time, and analysis of the endurance of the brand vis-a-vis the emotional connection the consumer has made with the Monroe name and likeness. Key
  • 23. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 23interviews were required of CMG Worldwide head Mark Roesler, including his head of licensingwho manages the Marilyn Monroe account, fans of Marilyn Monroe, Anna Strasberg and therights holder of several vintage Marilyn Monroe photographs, Charles Murphy. Due to ongoinglitigation, Mr. Roesler and Ms. Strasberg were not available; however other interviews wereconducted with Mr. Murphy and with Scott Fortner, head of one of the largest Marilyn Monroeprivate memorabilia collections in the world. The Case of Marilyn Monroe “She was our angel, the sweet angel of sex, and the sugar of sex came up from her like a resonance of sound in the clearest grain of a violin. Across five continents the men who knew the most about love would covet her, and the classical pimples of the adolescent working his first gas pump would also pump for her, since Marilyn was deliverance, a very Stradivarius of sex, so gorgeous, so forgiving, humorous, compliant and tender that even the most mediocre musician would relax his lack of art in the dissolving magic of her violin.” (Mailer, 1973, p. 15) Celebrity has a unique effect upon society. Few celebrities have had a more far reachingand long-enduring effect upon people and society than that of the legendary movie star MarilynMonroe. During her short film career which spanned the late 1940s to the early 1960s, Monroe’sfilms grossed hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide (Biography, 2011), while captivatingaudiences around the world as a 1950s “sex goddess” with a relatable vulnerability and a
  • 24. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 24“childlike innocence” (CMG Worldwide, n.d.a, para.1; Yahoo, n.d., para. 1). Words, such asthose expressed by Norman Mailer above from his visual biography of Monroe, are echoed eventoday by fans of all ages. Monroe is still regarded as one of the world’s “biggest and mostenduring sex symbols” (Biography, 2011, para. 1). At the time, Monroe was one of the mostsought after actresses in Hollywood, but not the most successful, compared to others. Her storyof a tumultuous upbringing and subsequent transformation from a local girl to Hollywoodsuperstar is the kind of dramatic story which makes a blockbuster Hollywood movie. What madeMonroe’s story even more captivating was that her tragic story was true, from her difficultbeginnings to her controversial and untimely ending. Monroe’s timeless legacy still charms menand women of all ages and generations today. With the rise of the commercial Internet and thedigitization of her image to near ubiquity, fans worldwide now have new, unprecedented ways toconnect (or re-connect) with her legacy. “She will forever be known as the standard for beautyand sexuality,” said the owner of, one of the largest independentMonroe collectibles sites in the world, when asked why he still collects and follows Monroenews and events (Fortner, personal communication, September 29, 2011). There is a dearth ofacademic analysis as to why Monroe has such deep and enduring success. Through this casestudy, Marilyn Monroe’s rise to timeless fame after death will be analyzed, establishing thatintelligent and talented estate management is the key to growing and maintaining the lucrativevalue of Marilyn Monroe celebrity posthumously. This was accomplished by Monroe makingkey strategic business decisions during her life with an eye for the future. Through thesedecisions, the Estate of Marilyn Monroe may then utilize the economic and emotional valueMonroe had established in her life with the public, paired with her business precedents, aspowerful foundations for strong future deals. The Estate can become empowered through
  • 25. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 25leveraging the Monroe brand, scarcity of Monroe product, and the captivating power of nostalgiaover Marilyn Monroe. Monroe’s Background Monroe had a childhood fraught with challenges and unhappiness. Born in 1926 asNorma Jeane Mortenson in Los Angeles, California, her birth certificate was devoid of a father’sname. This formed the first mystery of Marilyn Monroe, which began the long tradition ofspeculation over Monroe’s history (CMG Worldwide, n.d.a; Yahoo, n.d.), which continues eventoday. Her mother, Gladys Pearl Baker, was employed as a film cutter at RKO Studios andsuffered from psychological illnesses and “mental breakdowns,” which were observed directlyby Monroe (then Norma Jeane), resulting in Baker’s institutionalization (Yahoo, n.d., para. 2).As a result, Norma Jeane (later baptized as Norma Jeane Baker) spent her formative years in andout of the Los Angeles foster care system and orphanages until her mid-teens. There is furtherspeculation as to whether Monroe endured further “emotional and sexual abuse” while in thefoster care system, without any concrete proof ever emerging (CMG Worldwide, n.d.a; Yahoo,n.d., para. 2). In 1942, shortly after Norma Jeane’s sixteenth birthday, she married James“Jimmy” Dougherty, the 21-year-old son of a neighbor, in an arranged marriage organized toprevent Norma Jeane’s forced return to the foster care system (Yahoo, n.d.). This circumstancearose when her then-current guardian, friend of Monroe’s mother Gladys Goddard, told Monroethat she was moving away and could not bring Monroe along (Yahoo, n.d.). In 1944, NormaJeane was employed at the Radio Plane Munitions factory in Burbank, California, inspectingparachutes and fireproofing aircraft, living with her in-laws while her husband was on activeduty overseas with the Merchant Marines (Yahoo, n.d., para. 3).
  • 26. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 26 During her employment at the munitions factory, an Army photographer, David Conover,discovered her while on assignment covering women who were contributing to the war effort forYank magazine (a U.S. Army publication) (CMG Worldwide, n.d.a; Yahoo, n.d.). From thesephotos, and encouragement from Conover to Norma Jeane to sign with The Blue Book modelingagency, other modeling opportunities poured in for Norma Jeane. She became a highly desiredmodel for various magazine covers, swimsuit and pin-up layouts. Norma Jeane continued toevolve, changing her look and hair color “to emulate such established stars as Lana Turner andher long deceased idol, Jean Harlow” (Yahoo, n.d., para. 3). Two years later, upon the return ofJimmy Dougherty from overseas duty, Dougherty had discovered that his wife had become oneof the hottest, in-demand models of the time. Unfortunately, this discovery ultimately resulted intheir divorce, releasing Norma Jeane to chase her career aspirations (Biography, 2011). Thatsame year, Norma Jeane had signed her first contract with 20th Century Fox, making “$125 perweek” (Biography, 2011, 0:01:30). She changed her name to “Marilyn Monroe” borrowing hergrandmother’s last name of Monroe (CMG Worldwide, n.d.a; Yahoo, n.d.). In 1946, Monroe setout to be a star. Stardom “Norma Jeane decided to create a character. She invented a character. She died her hairblonde, she wore low cut dresses. She invented a character and people accepted her for that”(Biography, 2011, 0:01:44). Norma Jeane physically and emotionally transformed herself from“Norma” to “Marilyn” – a transformation which, to this day, has irreversibly changed the humanexperience worldwide. As Monroe began her career, her early performances were not explosivesuccesses. In fact, after Monroe’s initial contract renewal from Fox, she was dropped by thestudio, citing poor box office performance (Yahoo, n.d.). However, starting with the films
  • 27. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 27Niagra (1953), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1954) and TheSeven Year Itch (1955), Monroe had successfully left an indelible impression on Hollywood,while enchanting audiences by playing desirable, yet unique roles in her films, charming andsmoldering on screen leaving audiences yearning for more Marilyn (Biography, 2011, para. 5;Yahoo, n.d.). By 1955, Monroe began to desire smarter roles and to be taken seriously as anactress, despite rising to fame based upon her meticulously crafted sultry, yet ditzy image(Yahoo, n.d.). She was widely considered at the time to be “America’s #1 Sex Goddess” (Burns& Specht, 2001, 1:09:31) and was voted by Photoplay magazine in 1953 as Best New Actress(CMG Worldwide, n.d.a). Despite this, Monroe broke her contract, left Hollywood, and moved to New York tostudy under the famous acting coach Lee Strasberg (Yahoo, n.d.). Many in the actingcommunity perceived such a move to be ambitious and gutsy, especially since it was MarilynMonroe, of all actors, who attempted such a transformation (Burns & Specht, 2011). ForMonroe, however, she wanted to be truly respected as an actor with legitimate credibility, whilegaining more control over her career to play more sophisticated roles than the usual “sex bomb”(Burns & Specht, 2001; Yahoo, n.d., para. 12). Immediately, Monroe’s efforts generated results:in 1955 she formed her own production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions, Inc., to establishbetter creative control in selected projects and approval over which directors she would workwith in the productions in which she chose to work (Burns & Specht, 2001, 0:04:21). Hercompany also allowed her the option to provide non-exclusive acting services for other studios,not just one (Burns & Specht, 2001; Yahoo, n.d.). The subsequent pictures consistently garneredher critical acclaim, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Comedy for her
  • 28. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 28performance as “Sugar Kane Kowalczyk” in the motion picture comedy Some Like It Hot (1959)(Biography, 2011). During this meteoric rise to stardom, Monroe was secretly managing her personal issuesand deteriorating mental health. A miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy caused by endometriosisin the late 1950s triggered an emotional landslide to such a degree that Monroe would never fullyrecover (Yahoo, n.d.). Monroe married twice more in her life, both of which ended in painfuldivorce. The accumulation of difficult personal situations such as divorce from both baseballgreat Joe DiMaggio and especially author/playwright Arthur Miller, with whom Monroe becamepregnant, depression and prescription drug addiction (mixed with regular alcohol consumption)took major tolls on Monroe’s stability and performance (Yahoo, n.d.). In spite of these issues, by 1962, Monroe was 20th Century Fox’s most successful andeconomically reliable actor, yet had become an unsafe risk behind the scenes, which damagedher economic reliability going forward (Burns & Specht, 2001). Her final two completed films,Let’s Make Love (1960) and The Misfits (1962) underperformed (Burns & Specht, 2001). Herfinal unfinished film, Something’s Got to Give (1962) proved to be too tumultuous for Monroe tohandle as she called in sick 20 times, working only one-third of the full shooting schedule,setting the production behind for weeks (Burns & Specht, 2001). Fox fired her for failing torender services. Dean Martin, her co-star, refused to continue with shooting the picture ifMonroe was not a part of the picture – therefore production ceased and the picture was neverfinished (Biography, 2011). By the end of Monroe’s career, she had garnered British Academyof Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award nominations in 1956 (for Best Foreign Actress inThe Seven Year Itch) and 1958 (for Best Foreign Actress in The Prince and the Showgirl); fourGolden Globe Award nominations in 1954, 1956, 1960, and 1961, winning in 1954 (for Female
  • 29. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 29World Film Favorite), 1960 (for Best Actress in a Comedy in Some Like It Hot) and in 1961 (forFemale World Film Favorite); and she was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame,among many other accolades (Biography, 2011; Yahoo, n.d.; CMG Worldwide, n.d.a; CMGWorldwide, n.d.d; Marilyn Monroe, n.d.). She was never nominated for an Oscar, and therefore,never won an Oscar Award. “Sad Child, Unhappy Star”In Life The intrigue and curiosity around the legend of Marilyn Monroe is not without salaciousscandal. The stories of her personal life, personal struggles and fights with 20th Century Foxmade Marilyn Monroe relatable: she was amazingly glamorous, beautiful and sexual, yet sheconstantly fought with her boss and could not find happiness in love. Fox considered her a“somewhat out of control but still very bankable movie star” while co-stars such as Cyd Charissefrom the unfinished motion picture Something’s Got to Give thought Marilyn had psychologicalproblems (Burns & Specht, 2001, 0:15:08). Her professional conduct was the stuff of legend, asshe was consistently late to the set on every single production in which she worked. Even whenshe appeared to sing the now legendary performance of “Happy Birthday Mr. President” to thenPresident John F. Kennedy, she was late to the stage and a joke was made of her tardiness (Burns& Specht, 2001). Her consistent throat and cold problems resulted in costly production delayson every one of her films. Her doctor believed that her immune system became weak anddropped due to depression, which caused her to have further illnesses (Burns & Specht, 2001). Recalling Monroe’s two other marriages, these experiences contributed to her crumblingemotional and mental state. With DiMaggio, marital bliss only lasted nine months as DiMaggiostruggled with Monroe’s massive popularity, especially with men (Biography, 2011). This was
  • 30. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 30evident when, during their honeymoon in Japan, Monroe stopped to perform for U.S. servicemenstationed in Korea: a performance which resulted in a near-riot among the troops as they wentcrazy at the sight of Monroe – a situation which made DiMaggio exceedingly uncomfortable(CMG Worldwide, n.d.a). His discomfort was profoundly displayed during the filming of thefamous sewer grate scene from the motion picture The Seven Year Itch (1955) when a crowdwatched Monroe’s skirt blow up over the sewer grate, then watched DiMaggio overreact to thecrowd’s enthusiasm over Monroe’s visual spectacle (Yahoo, n.d.). Their struggles were quitepublic, as was their divorce, citing “conflict of careers,” yet DiMaggio remained ever faithfuland loyal to Monroe for the rest of his life (CMG Worldwide, n.d.b, para. 3; Yahoo, n.d.). WithMiller, Monroe was attempting to improve herself - to be more intellectual and broad (Burns &Specht, 2001). Introduced through Lee Strasberg, they remained married for five years, withMiller even penning the part of Roslyn Taber in The Misfits (1961) for Monroe. She remained asteadfast wife to Miller, despite more unpleasant circumstances such as Miller’s testimony andsubsequent discipline during the U.S. anti-communism hearings and during their trying timeswith the failed pregnancies (Yahoo, n.d.) It seemed evident Monroe would continue to have badluck with keeping a marriage, as her second marriage ended in nearly the same manner as herfirst (Biography, 2011; Welkos, 2005). Aside from her marriage troubles, Monroe was also connected to more curious andscandalous circumstances, tied to both then U.S. Attorney Robert Kennedy and then PresidentJohn F. Kennedy in rumor and speculation which Monroe has never shaken to this day. Theexact circumstances of the relationship between both Kennedys and Monroe has never beenexactly proven (or disproven), despite the numerous novels of theory and whimsy, cogitatingupon whether she was engaged in some extra-marital affairs with either Kennedy, or both
  • 31. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 31(Yahoo, n.d.). However, she considered the Kennedys to be a very important and meaningfulpart of her life (Burns & Specht, 2001). The suspiciousness of her relationship with theKennedys served to further fuel conjecture and conspiracy theories over Monroe’s untimelypassing.In Death Marilyn Monroe died at the age of 36 in Brentwood, California. She died alone, lyingunclothed and face down on her bed, on August 5, 1962 – discovered by her live-in housekeeper,Eunice Murray (Welkos, 2005; Burns & Specht, 2001). Of the many facts surrounding herdeath, these seem to be the only facts which most believe to be true. Her death, even today, isthe fodder of murder conspiracies, government cover-ups and other intriguing mystery parables(Welkos, 2005). The Los Angeles Times, in 1962, reported her as a “troubled beauty who failedto find happiness as Hollywood’s brightest star” (“Marilyn Monroe dies of overdose”, 2006,para. 2) and reported her as dying of an overdose drugs, under the headline of “Sad Child,Unhappy Star” (“Marilyn Monroe dies of overdose”, 2006, para. 6). However, on the officialMarilyn Monroe biography page by CMG Worldwide, the management company which stillrepresents certain images of Monroe, they report Monroe simply “died in her sleep” (CMGWorldwide, n.d.c, para.3). Wild speculation has continued for decades that she was murdered(Biography, 2011). Numerous books have been authored over the last 50 years which discussvarious conspiracy theories and murder mystery cover-ups related to Monroe’s untimely death.Nevertheless, Monroe’s death was officially ruled as a drug overdose. Dr. Thomas Noguchi, thenDeputy Medical Examiner, had reported that Monroe’s death was due to “acute barbituratepoisoning” and considered the death, not a homicide, but a “probable suicide” (Welkos, 2005,para. 11). Monroe was known to be a manic depressive. Producer Henry Weinstein, just before
  • 32. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 32commencing principal photography on Something’s Got to Give, had once found Monroe passedout on her bed from some bout with drugs (Burns & Specht, 2001). Monroe had growndependent on sleeping pills during her career, as she used drugs to cope with long periods ofinsomnia (Burns & Specht, 2001). Her doctors were aware of her behaviors and they coped withthis reality by maintaining 24-hour access to her residence and remained ready to respond whennecessary (Burns & Specht, 2001) Peers in Hollywood had also known Monroe for mixingchampagne with drugs, a combination known years later to be very dangerous and potentiallyfatal (Burns & Specht, 2001). Her death stunned the world. Marilyn Monroe Incorporated The narrative of Marilyn Monroe paints a seductive, compelling portrait of a woman witha dark, painful start who rose above her adversities to become successful beyond her dreams,constantly challenging herself to improve. Such a narrative also paints a portrait of a womanclawing for happiness and acceptance. She needed to be loved, accepted, adored and respected –but never ultimately enjoying any such splendors, with the narrative ending far too early, and fartoo tragically. Nevertheless, it is the tragic nature of her tale which, with memories of hersmoldering beauty and irresistible sexuality, which drives people young and old to remember andenjoy the life and creative endeavors that was Marilyn Monroe. During her career and thereafter, Marilyn Monroe’s films have grossed over $200 millionworldwide (Welkos, 2005; Biography, 2011). Currently, over 430 books by or about MarilynMonroe can be purchased through alone. A cursory search for “Marilyn Monroe”items on will return over 43,000 different items for sale. Monroe’s voice and likenesshave been used to sell items such as Chanel fashions, Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, General Motorsand Volkswagen advertising campaigns worldwide; Gateway Computers, Levi’s Jeans, a
  • 33. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 33“Marilyn” perfume line in Europe, Dom Perignon ad campaign, Marilyn Monroe-branded leatherfurniture and wine, the face of 2,000 slot machines; Visa advertising campaigns, AlizInternational Luggage, HMY Airways, Calvin Klein Europe, Unilever ad campaigns (Fong &Lau, 2001, para.1; DiCarlo, 2003, para. 1; Kafka & Hoffmann, 2005, para. 1). FIGURE 1: YEARLY INCOME GENERATED BY MARILYN MONROE ESTATE (including all revenues from authorized licensees and auctions) [as analyzed by Forbes magazine] 2001 $4,000,000 USD 2002 $7,000,000 USD 2003 $8,000,000 USD 2004 $8,000,000 USD 2005 $8,000,000 USD 2006 $8,000,000 USD 2007 $7,000,000 USD 2008 $6,500,000 USD 2009 $4-$5,000,000 USD (estimated) 2010 $27,000,000 USD Figure 1: Summary of the yearly revenue generated by the Marilyn Monroe Estate, from revenues generated by its licensing partnerships, as compiled by Forbes Magazine over the last ten years. Adapted from (Fong & Lau, 2001; Schiffman, 2002; DiCarlo, 2003; DiCarlo & Patsuris, 2004; Kafka, 2005; Rose, Hau, & Shupak, 2006; Goldman & Ewalt, 2007; Noer, Ewalt, & Hoy, 2008; Pomerantz, Rose, Streib, & Thibault, 2009; Greenberg & Paine, 2010; Pomerantz, 2011a) Monroe has consistently been ranked by Forbes among the top dead celebrity earnerssince 2001 earning $4 million to $8 million per year (See Figure 1, above) (Fong & Lau, 2001;Schiffman, 2002; DiCarlo, 2003; DiCarlo & Patsuris, 2004; Kafka, 2005; Rose, Hau, & Shupak,2006; Goldman & Ewalt, 2007; Noer, Ewalt, & Hoy, 2008; Pomerantz, Rose, Streib, & Thibault,
  • 34. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 342009; Greenberg & Paine, 2010). Although over the year 2000 decade, Monroe’s incomeplateaued then dipped, her estate’s annual income is still significant (Forbes Magazine onlytracks income above $6 million per year). In 2010, Monroe’s income rebounded to over $25million in revenues, putting her in third place of top dead celebrity earners (Pomerantz, 2011a).Auction revenue of Monroe memorabilia, for example, has been strong with Christie’s Fine ArtAuctions raising over $13 million in 1999 (Fong & Lau, 2001), “$460,000” was raised in 2001(Schiffman, 2002, para. 1), while just recently the iconic white dress Monroe wore in the filmThe Seven Year Itch (1955) was sold at auction for “$4.6 million” (Morgan, 2011, para. 1). Numerous feature motion pictures have been made chronicling Monroe’s life over theyears (or a portion thereof), including a TV movie entitled Marilyn: The Untold Story (1980)which aired on ABC; Norma Jean and Marilyn (1996) which aired on HBO and garneredmultiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, and a TV mini-series entitled Blonde (2001)which aired on CBS (Yahoo, n.d.). At least three more projects are slated to be released in thenear future: a feature from The Weinstein Company entitled My Week with Marilyn (2011), anindependent production entitled Blonde (2013); and a documentary entitled Marilyn Monroe:Murder on Fifth Helena Drive (2012) about the possible conspiracy cover-up concerningMonroe’s death (Adler, 2010, para. 1, 2; “Marilyn Monroe: Murder on Fifth Helena Drive”,n.d.). Coupled with the numerous and lucrative auctions which the Estate continues to hold eachyear, selling more memorabilia, personal property or other artifacts of Monroe’s, which cangenerate millions of dollars in sales for a single item, the marketplace has proven to still have aninsatiable desire for everything related to the person, the actor and the woman called MarilynMonroe.
  • 35. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 35 Management and StrategyInitial Strategy (Living) Comparatively, Monroe was not as successful an actress as some of her contemporaries,such as Audrey Hepburn. As previously stated, she did not win an Oscar, and won only oneGolden Globe Award for acting. Yet, the allure and attraction of Monroe, even today, is robust,generating millions in revenues every year (as outlined in Figure 1, page 33). A distinct andcrafted strategy was in play, which began with the strategic collusion and business decisionsmade between Monroe and Strasberg in the 1950s. This strategy included using mediaphotographers’ images of her to leverage public support and build a fan base for Monroe, andusing Marilyn Monroe Productions, Inc. to secure ideal roles, strong rights acquisitions(participation and rights splits) and to individually select key directors to work with in keypictures. The strategic mentality established by Monroe is maintained by the Estate today andspearheads Monroe’s consistent earning power and projected long-term viability well into thenext fifty years. Monroe is regarded by many as the world’s “most famous, most glamorous and mosttragic superstar” (Burns & Specht, 2001). Her intelligent strategy can be gleamed from hercareer decisions and management of 20th Century Fox. As referenced by Burns and Specht(2001), when she was being fired from the production Something’s Got to Give, despite hercontinued health problems, Monroe waged a public relations campaign, as advised by PaulaStrasberg and her then publicist Pat Newcomb. This campaign involved several of her favorite(and now famous) still photographers for key strategic outlets, including an interview withRichard Merryman from Life magazine and hundreds of photographs from her friend GeorgeBarris (Burns & Specht, 2001). The goal, per Burns and Specht (2001) was to put the public
  • 36. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 36attention squarely on Monroe in a positive light. Her words to Merryman were “Don’t make mea joke!” because she felt she was being treated like a joke by Fox and industry insiders and didnot want to be reflected in the same light to her fans (Burns & Specht, 2001, 1:07:13).Posthumous Strategy It is with this mentality that the Marilyn Monroe Estate, initially bequeathed to LeeStrasberg, her former acting coach, mentor and friend, then bequeathed (and currentAdministratrix) to Anna Strasberg, Lee’s wife, after his death (Whitman, 2011), has engaged inbusiness with the purpose of licensing the image, name and likeness of Marilyn Monroe. TheEstate engaged in licensing products and in other business opportunities which would enhanceand grow the brand that Monroe established for herself: a talented, glamorous and smolderingsuperstar with class, vulnerability and a genuine sweetness (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLCet al., 2011). Monroe “was shrewd about her own image. She saw it” (Burns & Specht, 2001,0:18:44). Additionally, by opening Marilyn Monroe Productions, Inc., after having had manycounseling sessions with Lee Strasberg, the new production company gave Monroe anunprecedented level of control, allowing for the ability to control rights, directors to work with,and the flow of revenues through her corporation (including engaging in co-productionopportunities). Monroe felt that having this control, especially over directors “was veryimportant” (Burns & Specht, 2001, 0:04:37). Richman. After Monroe’s death, the Estate made efforts to consolidate rights and gainrepresentation to continue management of the Marilyn Monroe legacy. As early as 1989, 27years after Monroe’s death, the Estate signed an agreement with the Roger Richman Agency torepresent the iconic “Marilyn Monroe” legacy and to promote “the most photographed person inthe world” (Murphy, personal communication, August 27, 2011). The Roger Richman Agency
  • 37. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 37held the rights to be the licensing agent for the Estate of Marilyn Monroe until June 30, 1995,with a one-year commission run-off period (of any then-existing licenses), of which 100% of allof these revenues are the sole property of the Estate (e.g., any successor to these rights has noclaim to any of this revenue) (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC et al., 2011, Exhibit B, para.6[d][ii][b]). It would be over the next decade that Marilyn Monroe would begin to realize a truerenaissance. Roesler. In 1994, the Estate chose to pursue a different direction which proved to be themost lucrative decision in maintaining and growing the Marilyn Monroe icon and legacy. MarkRoesler is the chairman, founder and CEO of CMG Worldwide, a (currently) 40-year-oldcompany located in Indiana. His belief is that the “most valuable asset to celebrities is thegoodwill associated with their name and with them. That goodwill is an intangible asset, and it’simportant to protect and manage it – not only right now but also in the future” (“CMGWorldwide: Intangible Assets”, 2010). Roesler’s philosophies and strategies are based on abelief that litigation is vitally important to the protection of the brand and that brands needprotection (“CMG Worldwide: Intangible Assets”, 2010). As newer media technologies emerge,(e.g., the Internet, digital regeneration of personality voice and likeness, etc.), protection of thecelebrity brand in these new media technologies is extremely important, as these new mediatechnologies become a tool for both promotion of the brand and for public interaction with thebrand (“CMG Worldwide: Intangible Assets”, 2010). Additionally, Roesler’s philosophiesincluded the notion that a brand like Marilyn Monroe should maintain a long-term brandingstrategy in place. Such a strategy was established by Roesler in 1994, after acquiring the rightsto render services as the licensing agent for the Estate of Marilyn Monroe, in connection with the
  • 38. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 38licensing of Monroe’s name, signature, likeness, voice and other elements (CMG Worldwide v.MM-ABG LLC et al., 2011). Terms and business strategy. To achieve these objectives, a specific strategy was put inplay by the Estate of Marilyn Monroe through the use of the services of CMG Worldwide, a means to grow, promote, and capitalize upon the brand strength and equity of MarilynMonroe worldwide. Using the expertise of Mark Roesler and his zeal to further grow theMarilyn Monroe brand and augment the image of Monroe, the Estate engaged CMG Worldwidefor almost 16 years, establishing Marilyn Monroe as one of the world’s pre-eminent brands. The engagement started in July of 1995 to take over as the “worldwide licensing agentfor the Estate of Marilyn Monroe” (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC et al., 2011, Exhibit B,para. 2[a]). The Estate employed a specific strategy in terms of how the scope of licensing wasto be implemented. Pursuant to the Engagement Agreement signed in 1995, CMG Worldwidebecame the exclusive worldwide licensing agent of the Estate with respect solely tomerchandising and advertising rights of Marilyn Monroe held by the Estate (e.g., the right toexclusively license in merchandising and advertising endeavors only “among other rights andthings, certain rights in and to the image, signature, voice, photographs, likeness, name,biographical information, right of publicity, performance, trade name, common law and statutorytrademarks, copyrights, merchandising, publishing and commercial rights…of Marilyn Monroe(a/k/a Norma Jean Dougherty, Norma Jeane Mortenson or Norma Jeane Baker”) (CMGWorldwide v. MM-ABG LLC et al., 2011, Exhibit B, para. 2[a], Schedule A, Recitals para. 3). In connection with those rights, CMG Worldwide was also granted non-exclusive rightswith respect to “CD-ROM and other CD based formats and/or applications and Swimwear;” withthe Estate retaining the full, unencumbered right to license concurrently such rights to third-
  • 39. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 39parties, without any monies being paid to CMG Worldwide for such concurrent licensing (CMGWorldwide v. MM-ABG LLC, et al., 2011, Exhibit B, para. 2[b]). CMG Worldwide was alsolicensed to use the granted rights to create and maintain an Internet web presence (on theInternet, in any communities such as AOL, or via any media now known or hereafter devised),with all content, artwork etc., owned by the Estate (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC, et al.,2011, Exhibit B, para. 2[d]). Finally, the Estate granted to CMG Worldwide the right to authorize, “subject to thelimitations of Schedule B” and with the Estate’s prior written approval, the right for “thirdparties to perform acts, shows or commercials, simulating the characters or performances ofMarilyn Monroe” (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC, et al., 2011, Exhibit B, para. 2[e]).These established terms laid the specific groundwork for what CMG Worldwide could do withthe Marilyn Monroe intellectual property. It is through these specific guidelines and regulationsthat Roesler was able to create the legacy of Monroe through the various books, movies,merchandise products and advertising campaigns which either featured Marilyn Monroe orcreated a simulation and/or likeness of Monroe. Through the use of future technologies clausesin the grant of rights (e.g., “all media now known or hereafter devised”), the Estate granted CMGWorldwide a truly forward-looking tool which allowed the Estate, through CMG Worldwide’slicensing efforts, to economically capitalize on new advances in technologies (in areas such asdistribution, creation and media consumption) (CMG Worldwide v. MM-AGB LLC, et al., 2011,Exhibit B, para. 8[i]). However, the Estate did not grant everything to CMG Worldwide. Although outwardly,the Estate appeared to engage in a progressive business strategy through CMG Worldwide, italso withheld and protected key revenue streams based upon, in part, Monroe’s hands-on
  • 40. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 40services rendered in her motion pictures, and more progressive rights which are now proving tobe lucrative business opportunities. Schedule B in the Engagement Agreement outlines theexclusions to the rights granted to CMG Worldwide in Schedule A. Such Schedule B exclusionsare in addition to the limitations of rights to CMG Worldwide outlined in the EngagementAgreement (e.g., the limitation that CMG Worldwide can only exploit merchandising andadvertising rights in connection with the Marilyn Monroe intellectual property) (CMGWorldwide v. MM-ABG LLC, et al., 2011, Exhibit B, Schedule A). Schedule B exclusions, asoutlined in CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC, et al. (2011), include such rights based fromMarilyn Monroe’s existing, personal rights and those of her Estate which included the any rightscontrolled by Marilyn Monroe Productions, Inc. and any such rights of the successors, heirs, andassigns of Marilyn Monroe, Marilyn Monroe Productions, Inc., as they would control to thefollowing rights: SAG entitlements; residuals from any recording, feature or televisionperformance in any media now known or hereafter invented; “rights and entitlements whether ornot related to or arising out of any contract heretofore executed by Marilyn Monroe, MarilynMonroe Productions, Inc. or by her Estate” which may have related to any televisionperformance, motion picture or other performance in which Monroe was an actress; “videocassette rights” (e.g., home video rights) whether or not related to or based from any contractwhich Monroe, her Estate or Marilyn Monroe Productions, Inc. may have signed; “interactive orother uses of Marilyn Monroe film clips in any media, now known or hereafter invented otherthan in merchandising or advertising” (e.g., use of such clips as licensed to, etc.); the“artificial or electronic creation, reanimation or depiction of the image, likeness and/or voice ofMarilyn Monroe through the use of technology in any media, now known or hereafter devised”other than in merchandising or advertising (e.g., the creation of a digital Marilyn Monroe for film
  • 41. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 41roles as opposed to a digital Marilyn Monroe promoting MasterCard); the incorporation of anyother existing licenses at current as a Schedule C matter (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC, etal., 2011, Exhibit B, Schedule B). Finally, as a blanket holdback, any and all rights not specifically granted to CMGWorldwide are held by the Estate (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC, et al., 2011, Exhibit B,Schedule B). Any trademarks, patents and/or copyrights which were either approved, securedand/or created by CMG Worldwide’s efforts are to be registered and owned by the Estate,including any derivative works created pursuant to any licenses or otherwise pursuant to theEngagement Agreement (including promotional materials, advertisements, etc.) in any medianow known or hereafter devised (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC et al., 2011, Exhibit B,para. 8[d], [i]). Given these rules of engagement as to what rights CMG Worldwide was granted (or not)in connection with future licensing, the Estate established strategic holdbacks for futureexhibition, separate from what was granted to CMG Worldwide. These holdbacks would provevitally important and more lucrative in the near future for the Estate. The Estate furthercompartmentalized where it wanted certain licensing endeavors to be realized, and where theEstate did not want certain licensing endeavors to be realized. For instance, the Estate restrictedthird-party licensors (including CMG Worldwide) from “[simulating] the voice of MarilynMonroe” without prior written consent from the Estate (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC, etal., 2011, Exhibit B, para. 2[f]). Further, CMG Worldwide, with its array of other celebrities itrepresented, was restricted in depicting or associating any other person or character withMonroe, without prior written consent from the Estate (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC, etal., 2011, Exhibit B, para. 2[g]). CMG Worldwide was restricted in using Monroe’s name,
  • 42. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 42likeness or other Monroe intellectual property on any billboard, radio or television advertisingand/or promotions without the prior written approval from the Estate (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC, et al., 2011, Exhibit B, para. 2[h]). Therefore, despite being granted certainadvertising rights, CMG Worldwide still had to secure written approval for certain advertisingventures (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC, et al., 2011, Exhibit B, para. 2[h]). Finally, no license of any kind executed by CMG Worldwide could contain an automaticrenewal provision longer than one year from the expiration of the Engagement Agreementwithout prior written consent from the Estate (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC, et al., 2011,Exhibit B, para. 2[i]). This limitation gave the Estate security to terminate undesirable licenses.CMG Worldwide was permitted the use of “foreign sub-agents” (a.k.a., sub-licensors in foreignterritories) with the Estate’s prior written approval; however the term of any “foreign sub-agent”agreement was limited to two years and must expire no later than June 30, 2000 (CMGWorldwide v. MM-ABG LLC, et al., 2011, Exhibit B, para. 6[b]). It is unclear whether such“foreign sub-agents” were permitted during contract term extensions. The Estate was free toengage any and all action, licensing, etc., with respect to the Schedule B rights, without notice toor approval from CMG Worldwide, and it was at the Estate’s sole discretion whether or not toallow CMG Worldwide to engage in any licensing of any Schedule B rights (CMG Worldwide v.MM-ABG LLC et al., 2011, Exhibit B, para. 3[a]). Exploitations of works of art, personal properties, personal letters, etc., as outlined inCMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC, et al. (2011), which may have been created by MarilynMonroe or owned at some time by Monroe and are now in possession of the Strasberg Estate(which may have been bequeathed to Lee Strasberg upon Marilyn Monroe’s death or prior to)are freely exploitable by “the Strasberg Estate, Anna Strasberg, or its respective heirs, successors
  • 43. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 43and assigns” (e.g., not the Marilyn Monroe Estate) (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC et al.,2011, Exhibit B, para. 3[b]). CMG Worldwide (and the Anna Freud Center as the passiveparticipant 25% owner of the Marilyn Monroe Estate) has no claim to any revenues generated byany exploitation of these goods (e.g., by auction or other such means) and only require priornotification of any such exploitation of these goods. Any other area of property or interest whichwas not explicitly granted to CMG Worldwide is the sole and exclusive right to the Estate andcan be freely exploited with no claim by or revenues to be paid to CMG Worldwide (CMGWorldwide v. MM-ABG LLC et al., 2011, Exhibit B, para. 3[b]). The Estate and CMG Worldwide agreed upon an initial term of five years (i.e., thegranted rights to CMG Worldwide would expire on September 30, 2000), with a customary run-off period to extend thereafter to manage any remaining Monroe licenses which may haveexisted (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC, et al., 2011, Exhibit B, para. 4[a-b]). CMGWorldwide had an option to extend the term of the Engagement Agreement, by writteninstrument, if such extension communication was sent at any time (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC, et al., 2011, Exhibit B, para. 4[c]). Pursuant to a letter sent by David Lee Strasbergto Mark Roesler, dated September 9, 2010, CMG Worldwide’s exclusive licensing rights expiredon September 30, 2005 and CMG Worldwide was engaged in licensing Marilyn Monroeintellectual property, pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Engagement Agreement, on anon-exclusive, “at-will” basis until September 9, 2010, when the Estate effectively terminatedCMG Worldwide’s licensing rights (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC et al., 2011, Exhibit D,para. 2). Essentially, CMG Worldwide, after 2005 continued to operate on an expired contract,acting in good faith of the previous terms and conditions, while the Estate looked for a betterdeal and kept the revenues flowing.
  • 44. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 44 Payments and commissions. The Estate was guaranteed a term payment of“$4,500,000.00” (e.g., the Estate was paid “$1,125,000.00” for each year of the term) as aguaranteed payment of revenues and the fee to purchase the aforementioned licensing rights(CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC, et al., 2011, Exhibit B, para. 5[a-b]). It is presumed thatCMG Worldwide continued these guaranteed payments for each term up to the final licenseterm, but it is unclear as to if any payments were made to the Estate by CMG Worldwide afterthe term expired, but prior to the termination of CMG Worldwide by the Estate. All suchpayments were included with a quarterly report outlining the licenses-out and revenuesgenerated. Per CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC, et al. (2011), CMG Worldwide waspermitted to commission all of its licenses made with the Estate’s prior written approval(including Schedule C licenses, which were only made at the specific direct of the Estate)pursuant to Figure 2 (page 45) (and subject to certain provisional limitations outlined in theagreement) (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC et al., 2011, Exhibit B, para. 5[d], 6[a], 6[d]).It is unclear whether this commission structure maintained in the extension term, or if any ofsuch terms were modified. All revenues generated by such licenses by CMG Worldwide were subject to a certainpayment distribution schedule outlined in the Engagement Agreement, which includeddeductions such as Authorized Expenses, as defined in the Engagement Agreement. With respectto licensing revenues, each kind of license revenue was not to be co-mingled (CMG Worldwidev. MM-ABG LLC, et al., 2011, Exhibit B, para. 8[a-b]). For example, the EngagementAgreement stipulated that for each license CMG Worldwide administrated and collectedrevenues from, the checks are payable to “CMG Worldwide, Inc. (Marilyn Monroe TrustAccount) and are to be segregated from other CMG Worldwide revenues, into a “separate and
  • 45. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 45distinct” bank account named “Estate of Marilyn Monroe, Deceased Trust Account NumberOne” (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC, et al., 2011, Exhibit B, para. 8[b][i]). Revenues fromSchedule C licenses which are administered by CMG Worldwide (excluding certain licensessuch as Franklin Mint or Fox merchandising agreement, etc.) shall also be segregated in a similarmanner, with revenues deposited in an account designated as “Estate of Marilyn Monroe,Deceased, Trust Account Number Two” (CMG Worldwide v MM-ABG LLC et al., 2011,Exhibit B, para. 8[b][ii]). The Estate wanted to ensure that all monies due to it were easilytracked and not lost in accounting issues. FIGURE 2: CMG WORLDWIDE COMMISSION PERCENTAGES (% commission on licenses defined as “Full Agent’s Commission”) Gross Revenues Domestic Foreign 1st Million $ 35% 40% 2nd Million $ 30% 35% Over $2 Million 25% 30% CMG Worldwide “Schedule C” Commissions 0% from 7/1/1995 through 6/30/1996 15% from 7/1/1996 through 6/30/1997 20% from 7/1/1997 through 6/30/1998 Full Agent’s Commission from 7/1/1998 Figure 2: CMG Worldwide commission percentages paid per license agreement as outlined in the engagement agreement, including commission percentages paid to CMG for administrating “Schedule C” commissions. Adapted from CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC, et al., 2011, Exhibit B, 6(a), 6(d)(i).
  • 46. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 46 Finally, the Estate established certain operational controls in connection with itsrelationship with CMG Worldwide. First, CMG Worldwide agreed that “all items to which saidEstate’s Property shall be connected shall be of first-class commercial quality. CMG Worldwideagreed that the products and/or services as to which it makes licenses will be of good taste and tothe enhancement of the image and name of Marilyn Monroe” (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABGLLC et al., 2011, Exhibit B, para. 8[c]). The Estate made the issue of product quality control andthe desire to grow and augment the brand strength of Marilyn Monroe a contractual requirement.CMG Worldwide was also required to not contest the ownership of the rights by the Estate inany manner and will not “tortuously interfere” with contracts made by the Estate with thirdparties, while CMG Worldwide will not engage in any licensing of Marilyn Monroe intellectualproperty in any manner not consistent with the Engagement Agreement (CMG Worldwide v.MM-ABG LLC, et al., 2011, Exhibit B, para. 8[e], 8[g]). The Estate retained a sole andexclusive right to prior written approval over all “revenue-producing” activities and over allmarketing, advertising and/or promotional materials in connection with said “revenue-producing” activities, including whether to litigate against or arbitrate on infringing parties(CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC, et al., 2011, Exhibit B, para. 11[b-d]). The Estate, inrealization of Mark Roesler’s superior expertise in the arena of managing deceased celebrityproperties, provided that if Mr. Roesler were to cease rendering his services as Chairman andCEO of CMG Worldwide, or “cease to work full time on an exclusive basis to supervise thisAgreement” the Estate may elect to terminate the Engagement Agreement with 30 days writtennotice, and all obligations due to the Estate would terminate (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABGLLC et al., 2011, Exhibit 14[b]).
  • 47. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 47 Future plans. In December 2010, the Estate sold the licensing and intellectual propertyrights of Marilyn Monroe to a Canadian brand management firm Authentic Brands Group in ajoint venture deal valued in the range $20 million to $30 million, with the aim of upgradingcertain licensing endeavors into upscale areas such as “apparel, personal care, cosmetics, home,sunglasses, handbags, footwear and jewelry” (Whitman, 2011, para. 5). Anna Strasberg wouldjoin the new company as a “minority partner” (Whitman, 2011, para. 10). This transaction,pursuant to a Letter Agreement dated February 3, 2011, would also pay CMG Worldwide$1,352,000 for transfer of ownership to all Marilyn Monroe online properties (e.g., domains,Facebook pages, etc.) and to close any further licenses in which CMG Worldwide may still haveoutstanding (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC, et al., 2011, Exhibit A, para. 1, 2[c]). Additionally, the Letter Agreement would release any and all claims against CMGWorldwide by the Estate, including assumption of liability in connection with the judgmentsagainst CMG Worldwide and the Estate for the Shaw and Greene lawsuits (wherein CMGWorldwide and the Estate were found liable for over $670,000 in judgments and costs inconnection with the rights to certain archives of Marilyn Monroe photographs) (CMGWorldwide v. MM-ABG LLC et al., 2011, Exhibit A, para. 2, 2[a-b]). Other terms were laterdiscussed via email and further clarified in a Termination of Agreement letter, dated November,2010, which would expand the scope of CMG Worldwide’s rights in and to existing and near-term licensing of Marilyn Monroe merchandise through the creation of a revenue “tail” whichwould terminate just after the date where CMG Worldwide would no longer represent MarilynMonroe (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC et al., 2011, Exhibit C, para. 2, 4). As outlined in Figure 1 (page 33), since revenues for the Estate have been essentially flatby 2009, this shift in management marks the next phase in the expansion of the Marilyn Monroe
  • 48. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 48brand. Whereas Roesler was successful in putting Monroe on the map as a permanent staple ofAmerican iconic pop culture worldwide, the Estate intends on expanding the reach and scope ofthe Monroe brand to increase revenues and expand into more upscale, higher-marginopportunities, especially through the use of new technologies – a right the Estate withheld fromCMG Worldwide in the initial deal (CMG Worldwide v MM-ABG LLC et al, 2011, Exhibit A,para. 2[e], Schedule B). Authentic Brands Group, in connection with this purchase, alsoacquired a company called National Entertainment Collectibles, Inc., an American companywhich specializes in the manufacture of all types of “collectible goods” (Whitman, 2011, para.9). Unfortunately, Roesler and CMG Worldwide, in defense of losing a premiere client,found issue in the execution of the transaction with Authentic Brands Group and the Estate ofMarilyn Monroe. On May 27, 2011, CMG Worldwide filed suit against Authentic Brands Groupand the Estate of Marilyn Monroe (among other parties) alleging breach of contract, fraud,tortious interference of contract, and demanded payment $1.6 million of unpaid royalties byAuthentic Brands Group and the Estate of Marilyn Monroe, including all other costs such asattorney’s fees, etc. (CMG Worldwide v. MM-ABG LLC et al., 2011, Complaint Filing). Due tothis pending litigation, it is unclear as to what definite, detailed future plans Authentic BrandsGroup may have in store for the Marilyn Monroe brand, aside from published reports. As well, itis equally unclear as to any further plans CMG Worldwide currently has in connection with itsrepresentation of the Andre de Dienes and George Barris photographic archives of MarilynMonroe, currently owned by Charles Murphy, CEO of OneWest Publishing (Murphy, personalcommunication, August 27, 2011).
  • 49. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 49 Analysis The Estate of Marilyn Monroe engaged in an innovative and precedent setting plan toreinvigorate the legendary and iconic Hollywood brand of Marilyn Monroe. By harnessingconsumer nostalgia through the use of Roesler’s then-innovative licensing schemes, the Estatefirmly established the posthumous Monroe brand. The partnership between CMG Worldwideand the Estate did not constitute a joint venture, unlike the new business structure set forthbetween the Estate and Authentic Brands Group – and perhaps that was a lesson learned by theEstate in terms of realizing higher gross revenues for the Monroe brand in 2010 (Pomerantz,2011a). Nevertheless, the Estate allowed CMG Worldwide to engage in certain brand licensingin terms of television and film projects, premium merchandising licenses, book deals, photo andart books, fine art sales and high-value advertising ventures. Although CMG Worldwide suffered setbacks in terms of the Shaw and Greene litigationregarding the right to license and exploit certain photographs of Marilyn Monroe (CMGWorldwide v. MM-ABG LLC et al., 2011, Exhibit F), CMG Worldwide is still able to form newbusiness partnerships with owners of legacy photographic archives of Marilyn Monroe. Anexample of this is the partnership forged between CMG Worldwide and OneWest Publishing inconnection with the merchandising and exploitation of Andre de Dienes and George Barrisphotographic archives in new merchandise and in new digital exploitation opportunities(Murphy, personal communication, August 27, 2011). In hindsight, this relationship has allowedCMG Worldwide to continue to claim to represent Marilyn Monroe, despite having lost therights to represent Monroe directly vis a vis the Estate. The Estate, alternatively, shrewdly withheld certain specific rights and revenue streams,reserving such rights for new technology exploitations for the Estate while steering CMG
  • 50. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 50Worldwide’s licensing efforts with precision. The holdback of certain Schedule B rights by theEstate will soon prove to maximize revenues to new levels in the coming years, while bringingheightened exposure to the Monroe brand through the use, for instance, of her digital likeness innew productions and advertisements (Pomerantz, 2011b). With the Estate maintaining all rightsthat Marilyn Monroe Productions, Inc. had possessed, including whatever home video rightsMarilyn Monroe Productions, Inc. may retain in and to Monroe’s library of features, the Estatemaintains a healthy stream of home video license fees from 20th Century Fox and otherdistributors, all of which would, presumably now flow through the new joint venture. The jointventure can surely capitalize on such new media revenue streams through certain rights licenses-out by the studios via new Subscription-On-Demand, transactional Video-On-Demand, MultipleSystem Operator (MSO) Free-On-Demand licenses and Electronic Sell Through (EST) revenuestreams (e.g., through iTunes, Amazon, Ultraviolet, etc.) as these studios such as Fox engage innew business model/means of delivery distribution and licensing of Monroe’s film library. It remains unclear if the terms and conditions set forth in the joint venture betweenMonroe’s new management company Authentic Brands Group and the Estate are more favorablethan the terms of the Engagement Agreement with CMG Worldwide. Despite the pending andongoing litigation, certain reports suggest that the joint-venture between the Estate and AuthenticBrands Group may be on much more favorable terms for all parties involved than what the Estatehad established with CMG Worldwide. Authentic Brands Group’s strategy with Monroeappears to initially target a much more conventional and modern strategy of celebrity marketing(for live celebrities, that is): engaging in new licensing deals for an upscale clothing line, newfragrances, new cosmetics line, iPod accessories, etc. (Pomerantz, 2011a; Pomerantz, 2011b).Authentic Brands Group’s first goal with the Marilyn Monroe image was to reduce what it
  • 51. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 51perceived was a fractured nature of her image by consolidating the rights of several photographicportfolios under the control of Authentic Brands, “You don’t have 52 Marilyn Monroes from apackaging standpoint, you have one, “ said CEO Jamie Salter (Considine, 2011, para. 4).Overall, Authentic Brands Group is targeting the re-branding of Monroe as an upscale brand inall respects. “At the end of the day, we see her as glamour and high fashion, but at the same timeshe is loved by all,” said Salter (Whitman, 2011, para. 6). With new licenses such as a line of“Nova” Wines, a lingerie line by a company called Dreamwear, as well as “a Dolce & Gabbanaline due in spring 2012”, plus an “expanded line of Gerard Darel apparel, including handbagsand footwear”, Authetic Brands Group is aiming for quality, not quantity, harnessing the originalimage of glamour and upscale living originally cultivated by Monroe herself (Considine, 2011,para. 5; Pomerantz, 2011a, para. 8). The most intriguing new use of Monroe’s likeness is digitally. Although revolutionary asit may sound, this was first endeavored by the Estate in 1994. Much speculation has been madein published reports over the likelihood of a digital re-introduction of Marilyn Monroe on ascreen (either the silver screen or small screen). As outlined in Figure 3 (page 52), AuthenticBrands Group efforts are intriguing, but not novel, with a recent advertisement for fragrancierDior’s new perfume “J’Adore” debutting during the most recent Emmy Awards (Considine,2011). This advertisement featured several Hollywood icons, such as Marlene Dietrich andGrace Kelly, digitally created and inserted into the spot. The advertisement also featured adigitized Marilyn Monroe, speaking the name of the product, while holding the bottle (Dumas,2011). Such use of CGI is not unprecedented in commercials today, and ironically, notunprecedented for Monroe as her likeness was digitized in a morph effect for the promotion ofMonroe’s favorite fragrance, Chanel No. 5, back in 1994 when the technology for digitizing
  • 52. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 52 FIGURE 3: USE OF DIGITAL REPRODUCTION OF MARILYN MONROE IN ADVERTISING 2011: Dior uses the digital reproduction of Marilyn Monroe in their advertising campaign to promote their new fragrance “J’Adore”. (Authentic Brands Group) 1994: Chanel digitally morphs actor Carole Bouquet into Marilyn Monroe as a spokesmodel for the No. 5 brand, a fragrance Monroe often wore. (CMG Worldwide) Figure 3: Authentic Brands Group plans to use the digital reproduction of Marilyn Monroe in future uses, beginning with advertising for high-end luxury goods such as Dior. This is not the first time Monroe has been reproduced digitally. Adapted from (Dumas, 2011; Considine, 2011; Pomerantz, 2011a; “Chanel No. 5 loved by Marilyn Monroe”, 1994).
  • 53. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 53likenesses was in its nascent stage (“Chanel No. 5 loved by Marilyn Monroe”, 1994). Monroehad a history of trailblazing: from not being shy about her photos in Playboy (Yahoo, n.d.) to(almost) being the first leading lady in Hollywood to do a fully nude scene on camera – and stillharnessing the positive publicity for it (Yahoo, n.d.; Burns & Specht, 2001). The Estate, withAuthentic Brands Group, is continuously pushing forward in the time-honored tradition ofblazing new ground, so methodically started by Monroe. Given the explosion of revenue generated by Authentic Brands Group in 2010, obviouslypart of the reason why the Estate chose to enter into a new agreement was due to the stagnantrevenue generated by the previous years’ management. CMG Worldwide was hand-cuffed bythe Estate’s tight approval process for all licensing, whereas now, through the joint-venture,Authentic Brands Group has more flexibility in licensing. The deal with Authentic BrandsGroup is sure to rejuvenate and modernize the Monroe brand for the twenty-first centurymarketplace. The Estate took the strategic position to maintain professionally-managed revenueflow, while seeking a more lucrative, higher value venture for the continued advancement andimprovement of brand equity in Marilyn Monroe, which included some form of revenue sharing.Authentic Brands Group has, so far, proven that positioning the dead celebrity brand as a modernbrand icon can be effective in generating enormous revenues. Authentic Brands Group isalready establishing Marilyn Monroe as an upscale brand, operating on par with moderncelebrity mega-brands such as Mariah Carey, Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez. Fan Worship Becomes Brand Equity Modern society extols and worships celebrities at an unprecedented level. Yet, in thepast few years, many of these lauded celebrities have passed away, including Elizabeth Taylor,Michael Jackson, Heavy D, and Amy Winehouse, leaving large opportunities to capitalize on the
  • 54. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 54demand vacuum left by the celebrity death. Many of these recent passings could represent large,potentially lucrative estates which can generate revenue for decades. Using newer businessmodels such as digitization of a dead celebrity’s image or reproduction of a dead celebrity’sartistic work, such as with the two recent Cirque du Soleil productions featuring Elvis Presley’sand Michael Jackson’s music catalog, the performance royalties for run of show alone can enterin to the tens of millions of dollars per year (Pomerantz, 2011a). As new business models blazeforward using more innovative techniques mixing technology into marketing campaigns,branding is becoming crucial in getting a product to rise “above the noise”. Dead celebrities arealready brands whose CEO is no longer living, but can continue to live in perpetuity through thenostalgia of what the celebrity represented and symbolized in the minds and hearts of consumers.For dead celebrity brands to thrive and flourish long after death, powerful and intelligentmanagement is needed to ensure their enduring longevity. The key to ensuring the brand endurance of a dead celebrity lies in three key areas: 1)engaging in memorable, key actions and achievements in life whereby the performance,behaviors and/or creations of the celebrity are socially redeeming, valuable and inspiring toindividuals and society in general; 2) Making sound and innovative business decisions in lifewith an eye to the future (such as brand associations and endorsements, etc.) which solidify theeconomic worth/equity of the celebrity; 3) Establishing enough brand equity in the celebrity inlife so that after the celebrity dies, the equity can be harnessed by the celebrity’s estate into apotent business strategy which simply builds upon the key precedents in contracts and otheractive business deals as established by the celebrity in life. In the modern business of celebrity, one can see that a pattern of key business elementshas emerged which relies upon the cross-collateralization of a living celebrity’s fan base from
  • 55. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 55one market area to another (e.g., a singer like Mariah Carey selling music initially, thenconcurrently selling clothing, fragrances and high-end jewelry, etc.) The businesses and brandidentities established while living directly influence how the dead celebrity can be positioned andmarketed, while integrating the existing brand equity. This will offer for new opportunities forbusiness, as well as long-run legacy branding making key products and experiences synonymouswith the celebrity brand (e.g., the “Experience Music Project in Seattle, based upon the lifeexperiences and creative achievements of Jimi Hendrix). Leveraging concepts such as thesymbolism of the celebrity themselves, through the image and visuals (whether through the useof digital reproduction or other methods, in any and all future media) of the dead celebrity arevital in connecting the consumer to the brand and retaining the consumer for the future. It is theconsumer’s emotional connection to the dead celebrity which fuels the initial rise of the deadcelebrity brand, until it is homogenized enough for mainstream adaptation through the variousproducts and experiences being sold. Eventually, though, there comes a time where the person and the brand become dividedaway, much in the same way that the Disney brand and the man who founded the company,Walter Disney, do not mean or symbolize the same things any longer. When does a Philco meana television more than the man’s name? At what point do we forget that Yves Saint Laurent wasa designer of fine clothing who used to hold glamorous, highly-anticipated runway shows, andnot the name of a type of clothing and accessory line found at high-end department stores? Thiseventuality is ultimately the goal of a dead celebrity, as it cements the true longevity of the deadcelebrity in the fabric of society. Ultimately, living celebrities just want to be remembered – andthe estates of dead celebrities fight to keep the memory and equity of the dead celebrity relevant,while maintaining a certain brand identity which will be synonymous with the celebrity…or as
  • 56. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 56Marilyn Monroe proclaimed, “I don’t want to make money, I just want to be wonderful”(Biography, 2011, Quotes [Inset]) As society moves into the 21st century, this phenomenon will become more relevant andmore apparent, as many of the most famous celebrities of the 20th century begin to die. Modernestates are now more educated and savvier in the concept of the dead celebrity being a brand.There are more opportunities than ever before in marketing and promoting a dead celebrity as abrand which can represent some type of personal image or era long past. As memento auctionsbecome more valuable and as the Internet has perpetuated the timelessness of celebrity throughthe ubiquity of photographs and video (whether film or otherwise), modern estates are nowunderstanding the true depth of worth of their dead celebrity. Eventually, through the innovationsof technology, the actions of the living celebrity not only will contribute to the brand equity andvalue of the dead celebrity, but also will allow for a resurgence of their career. Through theeventual use of digital visual reproduction technology and, for instance, vocaloid audiotechnology, it will be entirely possible for a deceased star to rise anew. It should be noted that to maintain the legacy of the celebrity (e.g., of the originalindividual) in death, their personal struggles, successes and humanity need to be preserved aswell, so that future generations are not just teaching their children about the luster and lure of the“Monroe” Diamond on a ring, for example. People need to remember the details and the historybehind the individual who lived that name before the name became a brand. One shouldunderstand who Marilyn Monroe was and why her name is synonymous with glamour andluxury living. Otherwise, eventually, the meaning, the individual, becomes lost and meaningless,devoid of the humanity which first gave presence and value to the brand, while the brand itselflives on forever.
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  • 64. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 64Schiffman, B. (2002, December 8). Top-earning dead celebrities. Forbes. Retrieved from, D., & Lukas, B. A. (2007). The equity effect of product endorsement by celebrities: a conceptual framework from a co-branding perspective. European Journal of Marketing, 41(1/2), 121-134. doi:10.1108/03090560710718148Silverman, S. (2005, September 21). Kate Moss loses ad deal amid drug reports. People. Retrieved from,,1107433,00.htmlSilverstein, B. (2007, October 29). Dead celebs: Branding beyond the grave. Brandchannel. Retrieved from, J., & Johnson Morgan, M. (2008). More than just the media: considering the role of public relations in the creation of sporting celebrity and the management of fan expectations. Public Relations Review, 34(2), 176-182. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2008.03.014Taraborrelli, J. (2001). Madonna. New York, NY: Simon & SchusterTest pattern: Hepburn falls into The Gap. (2006, October 4). Today Entertainment. Retrieved from hepburn-falls-gap/#.TkIpgoK0vEUTurner, G. (2004). Understanding celebrity. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage PublicationsVanSickle, C. (2001, July 1). Paris Hilton enters the commercial real estate market. Real Estate Journal Online. Retrieved from commercial-real-estate-market/854110/Welkos, R. (2005, August 5). Marilyn Monroe. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from
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  • 66. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 66 Appendix Case Study Outline: Marilyn Monroe I. Marilyn Monroe is one of America’s icons. Monroe is also one of the most lucrative and successful dead celebrities of the modern era. This study aims to examine how Monroe’s successful posthumous career was cultivated and how such success is maintained by the current management team. The study shall analyze the strengths of her career, the intrinsic allure of the icon, tragic death and how the estate is able to harness this equity into successful business deals. All of these elements contributed to her posthumous success and the study shall analyze how synthesizing these elements has kept Monroe a multi-million dollar success. II. Marilyn Monroe was a star with an intangible quality which contributed to her massive stardom among her fans. Her background is not what one would believe to be that of a true Hollywood legend. a. Monroe’s childhood was mired in drama with the illness of her mother, Gladys Pearl Baker, and the struggle of not having a stable family life thereafter. b. Once Monroe began to work regularly as an actress, she garnered several key awards, including several BAFTA award nominations and Golden Globe nominations. c. Continued successful movie roles contributed to her rapid rise to international fame. However, mounting personal instabilities took a toll on her performance abilities and her professionalism, making her a “difficult to work with” star.
  • 67. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 67 d. Monroe’s career was cut tragically short, dying of “acute barbiturate poisoning.” Although the circumstances of her death are sometimes the folly of conspiracy theorists, the abrupt loss of Monroe contributed to the strength of her brand as a sex idol, as her image will always be of a young, vibrant and alluring Hollywood icon. III. Marilyn Monroe has been listed in the Forbes magazine top ten list of dead celebrities consistently for a decade. The Monroe franchise has been and is still a consistent revenue generating engine. a. Total worldwide gross of Marilyn Monroe movies tops over $200 million, with the average gross of each film exceeding $7.5 million, from 1950-1961. Licensing of merchandise featuring the name and/or likeness of Marilyn Monroe is very active. (which sells both licensed and unlicensed items) features tens of thousands of items for sale. b. Previous licensing and merchandising endeavors took an initially conservative approach, with tightly-controlled consumer products licensing, including fine art and literary product. The estate made key, strategic decisions in its representation agreements with agents, resulting in establishing a strong, enduring position for the Hollywood Icon. The study will analyze the licensing and intellectual property policies of the Monroe management. i. The Monroe management team under CMG Worldwide had one management policy which succeeded for decades, which included only
  • 68. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 68 certain, key licenses and only licensing to products which acted to enhance the Monroe brand, subject to the approval of the Marilyn Monroe Estate. ii. The Estate made certain critical rights decisions as to what rights were granted to CMG Worldwide for exploitation, and as to what rights were held back for independent exploitation by the Estate (if any) or for future use. iii. The success of the Marilyn Monroe brand has been partially due to targeted litigation, especially with other photographers who own certain photographic archives of Marilyn Monroe. Although much litigation is still active in the courts, the study shall endeavor to interpret strategy and policy from the public filings recorded by various state and county court services in connection with management of the Marilyn Monroe brand. c. The study shall further analyze the new deal between the Marilyn Monroe Estate and Authentic Brands Group, as to the differences between the CMG Worldwide deal and the new deal. This analysis shall be in terms of overall revenue growth, rights administration and exhibition and information regarding the new rights splits for any/all rights held by the Marilyn Monroe Estate. IV. Following the in-depth data collection and analysis, the study shall endeavor to analyze the key strategies of both Marilyn Monroe when she was living as well as the posthumous strategy of the Marilyn Monroe Estate.
  • 69. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 69 a. Brief analysis of the Estate’s initial management choice in the Roger Richman Agency, which led to the signing of Mark Roesler at CMG Worldwide. b. CMG Worldwide and the Marilyn Monroe Estate have made key business decisions and enacted powerful policies to maintain the attraction and strength of the Monroe brand. i. CMG Worldwide maintained the value-benefit of the background story with emotional connection with fans and was able to effectively monetize the brand in multiple media, subject to the approval by the Estate. ii. Through strategic management, the Estate, through CMG Worldwide, was able to establish, and then capitalize on the inherent and unique sex appeal which Monroe exuded, through the controlled licensing of certain images from various photographers as well as perpetuating the history of Monroe’s legendary attractiveness from her career through other retail licensing and brand partnership ventures. iii. Analysis of the Marilyn Monroe Estate’s strategic use of CMG Worldwide and the rights it held for itself to create more valuable equity in the Marilyn Monroe brand, creating newer, more lucrative opportunities for the future.
  • 70. CELEBRITY AND THE VALUE OF DEATH 70 c. The sale of the rights held by the Estate of Marilyn Monroe to Authentic Brands Group creating new opportunities for lucrative revenue streams and a joint- venture structure, effectively merging the rights licensed to CMG Worldwide and the rights held by the Estate into one company designed to elevate the Monroe brand into new levels of success.V. Marilyn Monroe was a beloved icon. Following her death, through the strategic efforts of her Estate, Monroe has maintained her icon status, generating millions of dollars a year in revenue, while remaining in the forefront of celebrity status in death.