Branding the stars

Makeup, shoes, hair clips, clothes all marketable

By Paula Bernstein Toronto Star The Hollywood Reporter

NEW YORK - Britney Spears is not just a teen pop sensation, she's also a brand.

As entertainment companies conjure up ways to set their products apart from the competition, they are increasingly trying to establish brands based on a lifestyle rather than just a TV show, film or record.

``We want to build a Britney brand associated with what she stands for,'' Joseph Bongiovi, Sony Signatures vice-president for music licensing and marketing, said at the Licensing '99 convention in New York.

The licensing industry has come a long way since the days when a T-shirt with a picture or a logo sufficed as merchandising. ``Teenagers expect more than just a T-shirt,'' Bongiovi said.

What they expect, it seems, is Britney-inspired makeup, shoes, hair clips and clothes.

Sony Signatures, which recently signed a multiyear agreement with Spears for exclusive worldwide licencing, tour merchandising and E-commerce rights, plans to develop and license a clothing line based on the Britney brand. Sony is also in discussions with cosmetics and shoe companies about having her endorse their products.

Meanwhile, Fox Licensing & Merchandising is looking to extend its Ally McBeal and Buffy The Vampire Slayer brands with clothing lines inspired by the hit TV shows. Last year, Fox launched a loungewear apparel line called ``. . . isms,'' which reflected Ally's quirky sensibilities, in select Bloomingdales stores.

Fox rolled out the loungewear line across the United States this spring and is planning to introduce Ally McBeal-inspired lifestyle products such as greeting cards, health and beauty products, housewares and accessories by the fourth quarter of 1999 or first quarter of 2000.