“A Little Less Conversation” has turned into a whole lot of talk about Elvis Presley a quarter century after his death, and Bertelsmann couldn’t be happier.
The German giant already had planned its biggest corporate synergy effort surrounding the 25th anni of the King’s passing, starting with a deal ending years of squabbling that gave its RCA Records unit more creative control over the Presley catalog while staking the Presley estate to a bigger revenue share.
RCA culled the overgrown catalog, eliminating many marginal and duplicative titles. And it set up a worldwide committee to oversee how best to market the catalog in each territory .
A deal with Disney gave eight Presley songs (two are covers) a key perch in the just-released “Lilo and Stitch,” and a King-size profile among kids.
At the same time, Nike licensed “Conversation” for its $100 million World Cup worldwide ad campaign. RCA allowed the song to be remixed, a Presley first that’s now paying big dividends.
The “Elvis vs. JXL” remix, released June 18 in many territories, already has sold more than 1 million units, putting RCA general manager Richard Sanders in a delightful quandary. Now he’ll have to decide whether to include the unexpected No. 1 (it pushed Presley past the Beatles with 18 U.K. chart toppers) in this fall’s collection, “Elvis 30 #1 Hits.”
Whatever happens, there’s definitely “consideration of having more Elvis singles in the marketplace,” Sanders says, and possibly more remixes. “It’s really reinvigorating the whole catalog.”
“Conversation” hit U.S. shelves last week, along with a 100-song compilation of unreleased material called “Today, Tomorrow, Forever.”
Still to come are three Elvis books from Bertelsmann’s Random House, three magazines through its Gruner + Jahr unit, the “30 #1 Hits” box and a November sweeps TV special.
The King is dead. Long live the King.