Could Thalía be the next $1 billion brand in five years?
That’s the projection from Jamie Salter, chairman and chief executive officer of Authentic Brands Group, which has forged a strategic partnership with Thalía Sodi to own and manage the intellectual property of the 45-year-old Latin singer.
ABG will team with Thalía on the development and global expansion of her brand, pursuing strategic collaborations and long-term partnerships that will provide a platform to reach new markets and broaden her fan base. Salter declined to reveal the purchase price, but said he and Thalía have forged a 50/50 partnership.
“We will manage certain aspects of her live career,” said Salter, such as live concerts, records, appearances, merchandise and advertising deals. Thalía’s music career continues to be managed by CAA, and Sony Music handles her music. “Thalía is an extremely talented individual with a very strong brand. Thalía’s brand is rooted in the Latin market and provides a clear path for ABG to bring its expertise to one of the most important and fastest-growing consumer audiences in the world,” Salter said.
Sodi added, “ABG’s strength in building brands makes me confident that the Thalía brand will be successfully extended into new categories and international markets.”
Tommy Mottola, chairman and chief executive officer of The Mottola Media Group, who is married to Thalía and helped create, establish and build the line at Macy’s along with his wife, said, “This whole deal was designed because I saw how well ABG works with entertainers and brands — better than anyone out there in the business.”
The Mexican singer’s brand, which is an exclusive to Macy’s in the U.S., currently generates about $250 million in retail sales, said Salter, through a slate of categories including ready-to-wear; footwear; jewelry; denim (launched in spring 2015), and intimate apparel and shapewear (launched in July 2016). Her collection at Macy’s is colorful, feminine, sexy and designed for Latino and curvy women, said Salter, who seeks to expand the singer’s apparel and accessories globally. The line, which is sized from XS-XL, with XXL in all categories beginning next spring, targets women between the ages of 25 and 34. Salter said he looks forward to continuing Thalía’s relationship with Macy’s, which he described as “a long-term deal.”
“We very much like the relationship with Macy’s,” he said.
Some of the future categories for Thalía include personal care, fragrance, home, watches and eyewear. “We’ll be very careful with the brand from a U.S. point of view. We’re looking to build brand value. We’re not looking to dilute what Macy’s is doing. The rest of the world is open,” said Salter.
In discussing how the agreement came together, Salter said he spoke with Tommy Hilfiger and Mottola about deals in the celebrity space. They asked Salter if he ever thought about doing a deal with Thalía. “I do know Thalía because I shop the stores, but I didn’t think about doing something with Thalía because that’s not the space I play in,” said Salter.
After discussing the singer’s global appeal, he said, “I was very intrigued with the numbers that I heard she was generating at Macy’s. They told me about the line’s growth and comparable-store sales, and everything was up, up, up. I said I had to call Macy’s to see if this was true.”
Following his research, Salter decided he was very interested in looking at Thalía on a global basis. (In addition to selling Macy’s, the collection is also sold in some accounts in Mexico.) Salter said he called his contacts in Spain, Chile and Argentina to see what those Latino markets thought of Thalía “and it was unbelievable; the response was, ‘We love her.'”
Thalía currently has 18.1 million fans on Facebook, 5.2 million followers on Instagram and 8.6 million followers on Twitter. The singer has sold about 50 million records worldwide and has had 28 Top 10 singles — 15 of which went to No. 1. Earlier in her career she starred in a series of telenovelas broadcast in 180 countries, with a viewership of more than 2 billion people, earning her the nickname “the queen of soap operas.” In 2013, she was recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and has been named one of the top 25 most powerful Latinas by People en Español.
ABG, which does just shy of $5 billion in retail sales, has over 25 brands including Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Muhammad Ali, Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jackson, Juicy Couture, Aéropostale, Jones New York, Judith Leiber, Frederick’s of Hollywood, Adrienne Vittadini, Spyder, Prince and Hart Schaffner Marx.
On Tuesday, ABG signed another strategic partnership with Julius “Dr. J” Erving to own and manage the basketball legend’s intellectual property. Erving joins O’Neal as the second NBA Hall of Famer and active Celebrity & Entertainment brand to be owned and represented by ABG.
ABG will collaborate with the 66-year-old Erving on the development and global expansion of the Dr. J brand, pursuing strategic collaborations and long-term partnerships. Considered one of the most talented players in the history of the NBA, Dr. J is widely acknowledged as one of the game’s best dunkers. His endorsements span such companies as Coca-Cola, Colgate and Converse, and the company looks to continue with consumer brands and expand into luxury, travel and corporate sponsorships.
As for the Thalía line, Mottola expects that it will resonate well outside the U.S. “Latin America is an even bigger market [than the U.S.], even though we’re the number-one selling private label brand inside Macy’s right now,” said Mottola. “Everything stays in tack with Macy’s, nothing changes,” he said.
Mottola noted that ABG hasn’t tapped into the Latino market yet. “This will be a tent pole for them. Getting the star brand that is Thalía right now at Macy’s is a big feather in their cap, I believe. It will send the word loud and clear to the community about it,” he said.
According to 2013 census data, there are 54 million Hispanics in the U.S., representing 17 percent of the population and $1.5 trillion in buying power. By 2050, Hispanics are expected to represent 30 percent of the U.S. population. One of every four babies born in the U.S. is Hispanic, and, in terms of overall population growth, Hispanics account for more than 50 percent. They spend 22 percent more than non-Hispanics and tend to spend more of their discretionary income on fashion compared with other groups.
Mottola said he’s impressed with the job that Macy’s has done with Thalía. “They took the time when we first started, they sent a technical team to Mexico for three weeks just to study fit and zippers and photograph people walking down the street and color.
“When we launched at Macy’s, Thalía spent a week on Univision on every one of their big assets — award shows, fashion shows — and when we launched they were 137 percent over plan first couple of weeks,” he said.
Mottola, the former chairman and ceo of Sony Music, said they can apply the same marketing techniques to apparel as they did to music. “My history is in helping to create the Latin explosion, with Gloria Estefan and Jennifer Lopez, and Ricky Martin and Shakira, and everybody I signed at Sony,” said Mottola. “I have all this experience that we leverage right on to marketing our brand. The techniques are not dissimilar. We understand the customer. We know how they think, we know their fit.”
Thalía, who is performing Wednesday night at the Beacon Theater in New York as part of her tour, wears her product all the time in both her personal and professional line, he said. “It’s great stuff. She mixes it up on stage,” he said.