Author Mary Jo Foley in the News
Inside Steve's Brain, by Leander Kahney

Celebrity Merchandising

Lightbulb_2While browsing through a local Borders store I noticed a special shelf in the sports section.  The shelf display read "Mike & Mike Picks" and it featured a handful of books, presumably some of the favorites of Greeny and Golic from ESPN's Mike & Mike in the Morning.

I'm a big fan of the show so I couldn't stop myself from spending a few extra minutes giving these books a good looking over.  Then it dawned on me.  What a brilliant idea, but why isn't Borders doing more of this?

Why aren't there a couple of shelves in the politics section, say, one for Bill O'Reilly's picks and another for Rush Limbaugh's?  How about one in the cooking section with Giada De Laurentiis's favorite books?  The possibilities are endless.  And just because every one of these celebrities also has a book or two (or more) of their own, don't assume they wouldn't recommend others; after all, Greeny has a book of his own too and yet he's part of the Mike & Mike combo.

The idea isn't just limited to could be built around other brands as well.  For example, "Sports Illustrated Picks" for sports books or "Expedia Picks" for travel guides.  Again, there are a lot of interesting ways to build this out.

So what's in it for the celeb or the brand?  First of all, visibility.  It's certainly not a bad thing to have the "Mike & Mike" name in Borders, reminding sports fans of the radio show.  Secondly, there are other cross-promotional opportunities.  Borders could (and should) feature these "picks" lists on their website, include links to the celeb/brand and insist on reciprocity; after all, it's also good for Borders to get visibility on the Mike & Mike site as well as any others they'd enlist.  Finally, if that's what it takes to get some of the big names involved, I think the bookstore should consider giving the celeb/brand a small cut of the transaction, especially if part of the deal calls for that celeb/brand to help promote the Borders name.

I'm curious to see whether this becomes nothing more than a one-time deal limited to Mike & Mike or if Borders will leverage it into a broader promotional vehicle throughout the store.


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