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Brand/Celebrity Licensing Guide


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Why clear contract terms are critical to the success of a brand and celebrity licensing partnership.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.
It’s human nature to test rules and boundaries, sometimes break them, accept them and respect them. Our entire lives we are exposed to rules and agreements. We learn early on that agreements facilitate trust, and we learn the full extent of their value when disputes arise.

Celebrity Licensing

Recent practice includes celebrity and corporate brand development, copyright and trademark protection, litigation, arbitration, and general corporate and commercial counseling.
“Depending on the deliverables, you can have a 10 or 100-page contract and with reasonable provisions and a schedule of requested activity, typically both parties act in good faith. Discussed how both parties take risks; the licensee financial and the celebrity reputation. “Most celebrity licensing deals are more transactional in nature.” One defines what the artist shall do, how that may be done, and agree upon payment terms. For example, if the celebrity is to use their social media to promote a licensed product, one may negotiate if it will be the licensee who prepares the content for the artist’s approval or someone on the artist’s team to submit for the licensee’s approval.

Everything is a negotiation – financial, approval rights, activation, and termination. While the terms are the driving force, both parties are engaging based on reputation and relationship.

There are provisions about the talent using ‘best efforts’ to make themselves available for contractual obligations with sufficient advance notice and ‘subject to his/her professional availability.

What to Do Before and After Something Goes Wrong

Direct reports to be on great terms with the legal, finance and accounting departments, and always be nice to your corporate communications and PR teams. Always go to your attorney-prepared with something to discuss and state what counsel you seek.; how do you brand yourself to be bumped to the top of the list. Be the one who is prepared to discuss. If you have no idea what course of action to take, at least be prepared to discuss the dollars at risk, and/or the potential PR disaster at hand.

Don’t wait to alert your legal, finance and accounting, and PR departments when something is at risk.

If there is a sales goal in addition to a minimum guarantee, is there a commensurate schedule of approval timelines that must be met? If a celebrity doesn’t approve a product within the manufacturer’s sales and production timelines, how does that bear consequence? What if the licensee doesn’t submit their samples on time? Is there a cure?

If a manufacturer ships an approved product, with quality standards that are of a material change from that which is approved, resulting in a sales and PR problem, then what? What defines a material change?

If there is minimum marketing spend requirement by the licensee, what is that for? Say, for example, there is an annual minimum ad spend requirement, is it for “new or old” product? Is the product evergreen, or is it a trend? Contact your attorney for any questions.