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Elvis looks to win teenage fans all over again

india Updated: Dec 28, 2006 14:21 IST
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Teenagers in the 1950s and '60s went wild over Elvis Presley, but kids in the new millennium are not so stirred by rock 'n' roll's original rebel.

"I can't try to sell somebody Elvis who doesn't know who he is ... that he's not just some guy who's been gone for 30 years," said Paul Jankowski, chief of marketing for Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc.

Forbes magazine says Elvis, one of the top grossing dead celebrities, brought in $42 million (euro31.9 million) over the past year. But with the aging of Presley's longtime fan base, Elvis Presley Enterprises needs a new wave of younger fans. "Our opportunity demographic is really going to be 12 to 34 (years old), with a sweet spot around the 18-to-24 area," Jankowski said.

Next year, more film clips, photos and other material from the vast Presley archives will show up online.

"We will take our MySpace page and we will focus on expanding our number of friends on MySpace, that kind of thing," Jankowski said. "There's all kind of Elvis content on YouTube, things that we put up, things that fans put up."

MySpace lets users post photos and personal Web pages. YouTube lets users post and share videos.

The Elvis archives offer a rich source of material for "digital tactics," Jankowski said. "You know, for cell phones or doing wallpaper or doing podcasts."

But making Elvis cool again will be difficult. After all, for most kids, Elvis is the music of their parents' or grandparents' generation.

"Probably in today's world, like, he wouldn't be as cool, but back then he probably was," said Aaron O'Connell, a 17-year-old from Virginia, who was visiting souvenir shops at Presley's home, Graceland.

Presley managers are preparing for a big year, particularly for the weeklong series of concerts and other death anniversary events held each August at Graceland, which draws more than 600,000 visitors annually.

Elvis Presley Enterprises has more than 200 licensees producing souvenirs and signature products, and new ones for 2007 will have a youthful focus, like a peanut butter and banana cream candy bar from Hershey with the King's picture on the wrapper.

A Harley-Davidson dealer, with plans to open an office at Graceland, is coming out with a limited line of 30 custom-made motorcycles just like the ones Elvis rode.

"We want to reinvigorate our core demographic and grow it," Jankowski said, "while we introduce the icon to the next generation."

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