|Personal Brands Persist, Posthumously
By: Kaitlin T. Gallucci
When a celebrity passes away, his or her personal brand certainly doesn’t die with them. The recent passing of talented/troubled singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse is stirring up chaos for the management of Winehouse’s remaining brand.
Mitch Winehouse, the singer’s father, had announced the establishment of an addiction rehabilitation charity in his daughter’s name, which began receiving donations. Reportedly, he has had to return the early donations because the name “Amy Winehouse Foundation” was already registered to a third party. “Somebody else pinched it off us before we could get it registered,” he said. Additionally, a number of online retailers, including CafePress.com, are producing and pushing a variety of unofficial Amy Winehouse merchandise post-mortem, without any explicit permission. The Winehouse family is now being forced to contend for control of their daughter’s image rights.
Not all are simply exploiting the singer’s post-mortem brand, however. Prior to her passing, Winehouse had completed designs for her third Fred Perry collection, which has just been released. A spokesperson for Fred Perry said, “After much consideration and with the blessing of Amy's family we have decided to release the AW11 Amy Winehouse for Fred Perry collection.” All profits will be donated to the aforementioned charity being established by the Winehouse family. Additionally, Tony Bennett will be releasing one of the singer’s final recordings, the profits for which will also be donated to Winehouse’s foundation.
While there is much debate surrounding the late singer’s brand legacy (“junkie” or “great singer”?), such is often the case when a high-profile personality passes, particularly in this era where celebrity gossip is a commodity in itself. How should a posthumous personal brand be maintained?
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