The $30 Billion Industry No One’s Heard Of, And Why Every CMO Should Know About It

posted in media, news on 2/22/18

One of my colleagues loves Arnold Palmers. She’s no golfer — she just enjoys iced tea mixed with lemonade. Indeed, until recently, she had no idea who Arnold Palmer was, even though she’d been imbibing his namesake drink for years. To me, this kind of no-fingerprints branding is ingenious. After all, does the customer really need to know that the King won 62 PGA Tour titles in order to appreciate the flavor of his beverage? Sometimes a drink is just a drink.

 I mention this example of celebrity licensing because it’s a memorable entree to the world of brand licensing. (Licensing, by the way, is the process of allowing others to use your name and reputation in order to market their products.)

Like many, when I first heard the term “brand licensing,” I didn’t quite know what it meant. But as I’ve learned over the past 20 years running an agency that specializes in this field, such innocence isn’t necessarily a negative. What ultimately matters isn’t what someone knows or doesn’t know — it’s what happens when they’re asked to open their wallets.

OjO Electric Introduces An Exciting New Lineup Of Ford Branded Smart E-Scooters At CES 2018

posted in media, press release on 1/4/18

LAS VEGASJan. 4, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — OjO Electric will debut the Ford OjO Commuter Scooteran officially licensed product of Ford Motor Company, at CES® 2018. Four new features of the Ford OjO will be revealed at the Consumer Electronic Show where the OjO was rated as top six new tech items for 2017. The Ford OjO Commuter Scooter® will utilize OjO Electric’s patented technology and innovation as real transportation for the bike lane and beyond.

Land, Sea and Air: Luxury Auto Brands Extend Themselves in All Directions

posted in media, news on 12/5/17

As seen on LIMA’s Inside Licensing on

Luxury automakers are increasingly traveling new routes to reinforce their brand image and attract new consumers.

Luxury automotive brands traditionally have used upscale apparel and fashion accessories (along with less exclusive categories such as die-cast and model cars) as the basis of their lifestyle efforts. But in recent years, they’ve also been layering on a diverse collection of less-than-obvious extensions.

“You define luxury by quality and experience so automakers are trying to take that same process and expand into other areas which are why residences and other experiential categories make so much sense,” says Global Icons’ Jeff Lotman, whose firm represents Ford and its luxury Lincoln brand. “Those people that are going to buy an Aston Martin or Porsche condo probably don’t have the cars. It is about the style and design and it may make them think about buying the car.”

How Chefs Go From Restaurant Kitchen to Grocery Store Brand

posted in media, news on 11/30/17

Inside the world of licensing your name to Big Food

Jeff Lotman has tried for years to get to Nobuyuki Matsuhisa to license his name. “I don’t believe in ‘no,’” the brand-licensing executive says. “I only believe in ‘No, right now.’ I have chased people for years before they’ve said yes. Chefs are often afraid they can’t get control. They can.”

Where Matsuhisa, the world-renowned chef behind Nobu, has refrained, other household-name chefs have done the opposite, signing over their names to restaurant operators, manufacturers, and retailers, lending their image to everything from sauces (Bobby Flay) to spatulas (Alton Brown), chilled ready-made meals (Jamie Oliver) to pressure ovens (Wolfgang Puck), knife sets (Rachael Ray) to K-cups (Emeril Lagasse).

Lotman, the founder and CEO of Global Icons, a Los Angeles-based licensing agency, has been consulting and acting as a middleman in the business of branded goods and services since the early aughts. His agency works more closely now with corporate rather than personal brands, but he remains an opportunistic observer of the market.

How Nordstrom, Macy’s, And Calvin Klein Are Making A Killing Even As Retail Is Crumbling

posted in media, news on 10/11/17

When I was young, when you got your driver’s license, your parents took you to the local dealership and bought you a used car. And that’s if you were lucky. Today, no one buys a “used” anything, which just sounds cheap. Instead, thanks to Madison Avenue, everyone gets treated to a “certified, pre-owned” vehicle.

Linguistic rebrandings like this have been so successful that they now permeate every industry. For example, say you’re at a restaurant and see “Patagonian toothfish” on the menu. Surely you’d be repulsed, which is why chefs have rechristened this cod “Chilean sea bass.” Yum, yum!  Ditto for “junk bonds,” which we now know as “high-yield bonds,” and “taxes,” which has been transformed into “revenue enhancements.” Marketers use such semantics not to deceive, but to emphasize a larger or more specific truth.

Ford’s Garage: New Car-Themed Eatery in Detroit

posted in media, news on 7/7/17

DEARBORN, Mich. – You’ll find craft burgers, beers and even some automotive history inside Dearborn’s newest restaurant.

Ford’s Garage celebrated its grand opening on July 6th in Dearborn, which is located at 21367 Michigan Ave, next to the John D. Dingell Transit Center.  The restaurant, expected to employ about 150 full- and part-time workers, is styled after a 1920’s automotive service station and will have vintage cars and memorabilia.  Blue shop cloths will be the substituted choice for napkins. In the restrooms in keeping with the theme, sinks are made of tires and the door handles are gas pump handles. The menu will include items like a 10-pound hamburger called “Henry Ford‘s Hub Cap” and more than 100 craft beers. The 250-seat restaurant is an official licensee of Ford Motor Company and has additional locations in Florida.

Restaurants Build Empires With Brand Licensing

posted in media, news on 6/12/17

How TGI Fridays, California Pizza Kitchen and Dunkin’ Donuts added significant revenue streams

Jane is a mother of three. She’s responsible for grocery shopping in her household. Since it’s Taco Tuesday, her shopping cart practically rolls itself into aisle seven — the Mexican aisle. Unfortunately, her main choices have been the same for years: Old El Paso and Ortego. The food is good, but uninspiring.

On one hand, most restaurant chains may see this situation and ask, “How do we get Jane into our restaurants?” But some chains see this situation and ask, “How do we get our restaurants in front of Jane?”

The smart guys recognize that Jane isn’t coming to them — they need to go to her. They recognize that the supermarket is where Jane spends her time. It’s convenient, her favorite cashier always accepts her coupons and she knows the floor plan by heart.

The Importance Of Common Courtesy In Business Emails

posted in media on 2/2/17

Five years into his career while working for the Detroit Free Press, Frank Bruni was flown in by the Chicago Tribune for an interview. They “put me through a veritable 12 hours of meetings and interviews and writing tests,” Bruni recalled. “Two decades later, I’m still waiting for any word.”

If you’ve ever interviewed for a job or pitched a prospect — or gone on a date — this story is painfully familiar. Your high hopes of landing a job, client or partner are dashed by a silence that’s deafening. In following up, you might as well be talking to yourself. You feel led on and strung along — and rightly so.