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Extending the King brand into fitness realm

Maestro brings royal touch to branding

Jamie King’s vision is embodied by some of pop music’s top-selling performers like Britney Spears and Madonna. As their tour director, he “pulls the levers (and) makes them look incredible,” King’s manager Daniel Sladek says.

But establishing the Jamie King brand apart from the stars he props up on tours posed a bigger challenge, even with a company as ubiquitous as Nike as his partner.

The King-Nike Rockstar Workout partnership began in 2004. When Nike approached King, he was working with Christina Aguilera, who was in the midst of a worldwide trek with Justin Timberlake.

The Nike Rockstar project grew to encompass clothing, accessories and workouts, as the company put King’s face and dance fitness on a global scale. “You couldn’t walk into a Nike store without seeing Jamie King,” says Sladek.

And yet despite his stature in the realm of traveling road-show extravaganzas, King does not have the same name identification as such exercise gurus as Jane Fonda, Jillian Michaels, Denise Austin, Cindy Crawford or Richard Simmons.

King’s “Rock Your Body” fitness DVD, released in 2007, has sold in excess of 100,000 units, according to its distributor Rodale Press, which also published the accompanying book. (Fonda’s fitness video debut eventually sold 17 million copies, which is a record.) The trade paperback version of the King workout sold only a fraction of that number, at 1,000 copies, according to Nielsen BookScan.

Nevertheless, as Nike’s global spokesman, King traveled from Prague to Taipei teaching dance workshops and filming online dance videos with step-by-step instructions. Five one-hour dance workouts choreographed by King were available at Crunch Fitness gyms across the U.S.

He even enlisted then-newcomer Rihanna to star in his hip-hop themed video set to her second single, “S.O.S.”

“I just loved the way she carried herself and I thought ‘what a great representation of woman, and a woman who just loves to dance and smile and be happy,’ ” says King of Rihanna in her “Pon de Replay” video.

“I wanted to create the coolest workout that I could imagine that was based around dance, and that’s really what started Rock Your Body,” he says.

King says developing the Rock Your Body workouts entailed a kind of tightrope balance.

“To make it hard enough for the dancers and to make it accessible enough for the non-dancers, that was a challenge,” he says.

After a few years, Nike began to taper off its involvement with dance fitness. Plans for continuing his Rock Your Body brand are on hold, given that his dance card is full with Rihanna and Britney Spears tours, not to mention a Michael Jackson-themed Cirque du Soleil road show.

“Right now there aren’t direct plans,” says King, “but I plan to come back around to that. Once a dancer always a dancer, I say.”

King aims large without sacrificing intimacy | Playing Kingmaker in the manner of ‘Idol’ | Resurrecting Michael via Cirque Du Soleil | Channeling MTV devotion into a career | Extending the King brand into fitness realm

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