This Is It

This Is It

Branding | Judette Coward-Puglisi

November 2, 2009









I saw Michael Jackson’s This is It  over the weekend, it’s a must see for fans. For those hankering for the details of a tragic past you won’t find that in this movie. 

This is it is simply a movie about process, about all the elements, ordinary and extraordinary,  that went into to producing the would-be concert. And because it’s about process, the movie is triumphant. 


 Two observations struck me:  1) That genius takes work and discipline, discipline and work  2) The concert would have been something the likes of which we had  never seen before.  


Worldwide sales have been very solid.

This Is It pulled in $101 million in its first five days. And distributor Sony is extending the farewell performance film beyond its planned two-week run. In the US, the movie was the No. 1 Halloween choice enjoying a $21.3 million in the opening weekend.

There was something else that struck me about the movie. It was produced by the Michael Jackson Company giving much credence to the fact that a super, personal brand needs management, even in death.

According to NPR, it appears that the decisions about how Jackson’s image and music will be used will primarily be made by two men: John McClain and John Branca. Both are longtime veterans of both the music business and the Michael Jackson industry. And they carry with them great decision making power on the usage   of Jackson’s brand. 

Jackson’s name will always big business. So too Bob Marley, the Jamaican superstar who died of brain cancer in 1981 at age 36.

Earlier this year it was reported that the Bob Marley estate had hired the Toronto-based Hilco Consumer Capital to protect their rights to the brand.  

Apparently, the Marley family is seeking to enforce their exclusive rights to an image that has grown steadily in scope and is estimated to generate US$600 million  a year in sales of unlicensed wares, none of which goes to the Marley family.  Their  legal sales are much smaller – just US$4 million in 2007, according to Forbes magazine. 

Like Marley, Jackson is more than likely to have a long and lucrative posthumous career and how the MJ  brand is managed (his is the first superstar passing in an Web 2.0 era) will have implications  on how other big, superstar, celebrity brands are handled in the future. Although it is my guess there will never be another pop star passing quite like this. 

The King of Pop may be  dead but through branding let’s just say:  ‘Long Live the King!’