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Licensing in Color: Movie-inspired Makeup

Makeup brand owners have embraced movies and tapped into their blockbuster potential. Photo courtesy of HCT Packaging.

By: Charu Suri and Ron Robinson
Posted: April 6, 2010, from the April 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

The world has swooned over Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy outfits in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and emulated Marilyn Monroe’s halter dress in Some Like it Hot to the point where these outfits have become iconic themselves. Indeed, the silver screen’s merchandising children have always been in the fashion industry.

But makeup is playing catch-up to this trend of movie licensing, especially since a number of recent movies have spawned a cult following not unlike the fervor generated by the Beatles. The celebrated movie Twilight, for example, grossed $70.55 million during its opening weekend, and its sequel, New Moon, set an opening day box office record with $72.7 million in ticket sales. The movie not only created long lines and anxious teens, tweens and adults alike waiting to get their hands on tickets, but gave them inspiration to recreate a world where pale lips and ghostly skin was as sexy as Brigitte Bardot.

America has always loved its licensing opportunities. From video games to kids’ collectibles from movies such as Toy Story, any in the Harry Potter series, and the upcoming Iron Man 2, merchandising and licensing have been extremely profitable ventures for studios because of the strong impact they’ve had to their revenues. Licensing is basically a win-win for the studio and the manufacturers—for entertainment properties, licensors generally get an up-front guarantee from a master toy licensee, and the studio typically gets a 10–15% cut of wholesale receipts. But here too, there is danger for a hit or miss. If the movie generates blockbuster sales and generates hype, then the pressure is on for the licensees to deliver. If the products fall short of expectations, then the sales suffer.

The NPD Group noted licensed toys in 2009 were a cool 25% (or $5.4 billion) of the total industry sales of $21.5 billion. Although this number represents a slight contraction from the 2008 figures (27% of the $21.65 billion), it still indicates how much fatter sales can be when licensing plays a role in the puzzle.