Guest Post by Erin Weinger
Any mention of CAA, the L.A.-based talent agency behemoth known for repping major movie stars including Brad Pitt, Natalie Portman and Bradley Cooper, conjures images of the silver screen (and the Vanity Fair Oscar Party, to which we would love an invite). But the agency has expanded their core business by creating a licensing division devoted to marrying clients with business opportunities that fit their personal brand. And to help get the job done, CAA exhibited at this year’s Licensing International Expo — the entertainment company’s first time officially exhibiting at the show.
According to the company’s licensing booklet, which was on display at their celebrity photo-stamped booth during LX11, beauty and grooming are popular licensing wishes among their clientele, with Eva Mendes interested in fragrances, Dancing With The Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba looking to lend her name to false eyelashes and NBA star Carmello Anthony setting his sights on a men’s grooming line.
Fashion is also in the mix, with Chelsea Handler, Mariah Carey and Olivia Munn wanting to create clothing lines, toddler apparel and lingerie, respectively.
Surprisingly, it isn’t just household names who are in CAA’s stable of licensable lifestyle talent. Quirky, Los Angeles-based perfumer Douglas Little, whose D.L. & Company line of luxury candles are a popular purchase at specialty retailers including Barneys and sell for $100 a pop, is also handled by the agency, and available to lend his name to jewelry, liquor and even Halloween décor. Chip & Pepper denim, popular contemporary boutique Steven Alan and NY Indie label Ruffian are also handled by the CAA division. All three brands have appeared on the pages of glossy style magazines including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and InStyle as being favored by many of the CAA’s talent division clients.
The diversification is an interesting and smart strategy for CAA, as in the case of Jessica Simpson’s $1 billion lifestyle brand has proven, the revenue from licensed products can — and usually do — far outweigh even the heftiest movie star salary.
CAA is notorious for signing only the heaviest hitting talent when it comes to their entertainment roster (in addition to the aforementioned names, Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Aniston and Anne Hathaway are also clients), the agency’s Licensing Division eschews premium names in favor of premium business opportunities.
Case in point: Artist Thomas Kinkade, whose light-filled landscape paintings are a favorite at malls across Middle America and a bane to the existence of fine art collectors, is a CAA Licensing Division client. And for good reason, The Thomas Kinkade Company has seen $4 billion in revenue over the past 15 years, a substantial slice of business that CAA has handled since January, 2011. The company plans on expanding Kinkade’s presence internationally.
And no, this doesn’t mean that you’re any more likely to get CAA super agent Kevin Huvane to watch your YouTube reel. Unless, perhaps, you are a multi-million dollar lifestyle brand in the making. Or you happen to bump into the right person at next year’s LX11.