Teenagers in the 1950s and '60s went wild over Elvis Presley, much to the consternation of their parents, but kids in the new millennium...
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Teenagers in the 1950s and ’60s went wild over Elvis Presley, much to the consternation of their parents, but kids in the new millennium aren’t 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.
Next year, three decades after Presley’s death, the multimillion-dollar Elvis business will try to connect with a new generation of teenage 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.
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In the early days of Presley’s career, teenagers gathered at jukeboxes or around 45-rpm turntables. But now the music has moved to the Internet, on sites such as MySpace, which is part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., and Google’s YouTube.
Next year more film clips, photos and other material from the vast Presley archives will be showing 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, referring to the social-networking site that lets visitors share photos and Web pages. The Elvis archives offer a rich source of material for “digital tactics,” Jankowski said. “You know, for cellphones or doing wallpaper or doing podcasts.”
Moving Elvis content online should be easy; making Elvis cool again will be more difficult. After all, for most kids, Elvis is the music of their parents’ — or grandparents’ — generation.
Aaron O’Connell, a 17-year-old from Fredericksburg, Va., who was visiting souvenir shops at Graceland, said it could be tough to make Elvis relevant again.
“Probably in today’s world, like, he wouldn’t be as cool, but back then he probably was,” said O’Connell, a high school junior in town for the Liberty Bowl football game.
Presley managers are preparing for a big year, particularly for the weeklong series of concerts, fan-club gatherings and other death anniversary events held each August at Graceland, which draws more than 600,000 visitors annually.
Presley died of heart disease and prescription-drug abuse at age 42 at Graceland on Aug. 16, 1977.
Elvis Presley Enterprises has more than 200 licensees producing souvenirs and signature products, and new ones for 2007 will have a youthful focus, such as a peanut-butter-and-banana-cream candy bar from Hershey with the King’s picture on the wrapper.