Hollywood Sign For The Super Bowl Licensing Win

When it comes to the Super Bowl, everything tends to be big. The game. The ads. The promotions. The bets.

For Super Bowl LVI, it got even bigger. The NFL reported that over 208 million viewers were watching the Los Angeles Rams 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Nielsen found that nearly 90% of people using a television on February 13th were watching the game, the highest Super Bowl shares on record.

Fan spending at the Super Bowl set a new record, a 14% jump over the previous record in 2016. A 30-second Super Bowl ad sold for over $6.5 million, the most expensive ad price in NFL history.

But the biggest thing about Super Bowl LVI involved licensing and a truly big bet.

A Big Licensing Bet

Licensing isn’t one of the first things you think of when it comes to the Super Bowl. Sponsorships and promotions, without a doubt. Betting – 100%. In fact, 31.4 million Americans placed over $7.6 billion worth of bets on the Super Bowl.

Even though the Los Angeles Rams were 3.5 point favorites they only won by 3 points. Anyone who bet on the Bengals was still a winner as the Rams did not cover the spread.

You can always bet that licensed apparel will be ready on the game day. Super Bowl champion shirts are made in advance so that fans can get the gear the second the clock strikes zero. The Super Bowl Champions L.A. Rams gear was immediately available via e-commerce and retail stores and flew off shelves in Los Angeles after the team’s dramatic win.

Whereas the charity Good 360 helped redistribute the pre-manufactured (and now inaccurate) Cincinnati Bengals Super Bowl champion’s merchandise to impoverished countries that may need clothing.

But the biggest bet placed was one most people in the licensing industry probably haven’t heard about. And it involved a licensing deal that could only happen on one major condition – the Los Angeles Rams winning Super Bowl LVI.  If the Rams win, the licensing deal continues. If they don’t, the deal is off.

When wide receiver Cooper Kupp caught the winning touchdown from quarterback Matthew Stafford with less than a minute and a half left, it became not only a big win for Los Angeles but also a big licensing opportunity for a Dependable Solutions client. 

Preparation Meets Opportunity

In life, success is not about getting lucky but being able to be lucky. Famed golfer Arnold Palmer said, “It’s a funny thing, the more I practice the luckier I get.” You put things into practice to help you get lucky in business. And licensing agent Evolution USA was truly prepared to score a big win for its client, The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

The famed Hollywood Sign is almost 100 years old. Built in 1923, developers Woodruff & Shoults wanted to promote their new real estate development to encourage people to move from Burbank and Pasadena, which was more developed at the time.

Woodruff & Shoults spent $20K putting up a sign spelling out the name “Hollywoodland” on the unstable hills of Hollywood. Designed by advertising man John Roche, the 50-foot-high and 30-foot-wide land promotion sign dwarfed anything else in the area. The sign was lined with 4,000 lights to keep it illuminated continuously at night.  This promotional sign was only supposed to be shown for 18 months. It lasted much longer than it was supposed to and became a recognizable part of the Hollywood landscape.

By the 1940s, the letters became deteriorated because of weather, especially the wind, and the sign fell into disrepair. At this point, the real estate developers were no longer in the picture. Money was needed to properly fix the sign and, in 1949, a public trust came to the rescue.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the Hollywood Sign Trust took over the sign and did the first repair and rebuild. It was the Chamber that took off the word “land” so the sign would simply spell “Hollywood.” This initial restoration cost $4,000. Since then, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the Hollywood Sign Trust have been entrusted with the upkeep of the Hollywood sign. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce is also responsible for the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame.

A second restoration was needed in 1978. Different people from all walks of Hollywood donated money for its restoration including rock star Alice Cooper, singing cowboy Gene Autry, singer and TV star Andy Williams, and Warner Bros. Records. Playboy founder Hugh Hefner provided the final $1 million needed for the Trust of Public Land to be able to purchase the real estate around the sign so no developers could build near it.

With this second restoration, the sign was made a little smaller and constructed out of metal. This is the iconic sign we all see today.

The Hollywood Sign has had a truly amazing history. But one thing that has never happened in its nearly 100-year history – the Hollywood Sign has never been physically altered legally.

And that’s where preparation met opportunity.

Making a Deal that’s Never Been Done

The Hollywood Sign intellectual property has been licensed for movie productions, TV, and advertising/marketing campaigns. It’s been licensed to create licensed products like apparel, accessories, novelties, and keychains and has even been licensed for major brand collaborations like Gucci and Dolce and Gabbana. But it has never been licensed to physically change the sign to promote a third-party brand. When a deal has never been done before in the 100-year history of the brand, how do you get a deal done?

In the 1980s, Dolly Parton tried to license it for Dollywood. The Chamber would not license it to Dolly. Disney tried to license it in 1996 to put spots on it for the 101 Dalmatians (1996) release and the answer was still no.

Large companies tried to license the sign, especially a lot of fashion brands like Dior, Swarovski, and Chanel. They all offered to license the sign to change it for the promotion of an anniversary or special event. The answer was always no. Until the Los Angeles Rams and the big bet.

Evolution USA and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce got a call from the Los Angeles Rams the Wednesday before the Super Bowl saying they’d like to alter the Hollywood sign if the Rams won the Super Bowl LVI to celebrate the momentous occasion with the entire city. The Chamber agreed to allow a license to physically alter the sign for a limited time, if the Rams won.

Commercial terms of that license were negotiated in one day. The contract was drafted the next day. Redlines were done the day after. Mayor Garcetti provided help in getting the city of Los Angeles to provide the proper land and permitting approvals.

But this deal was contingent on one thing. The Los Angeles Rams had to win the Super Bowl. Once the Rams won, the deal was closed and fully executed on February 17th, the afternoon of the Super Bowl. In one hundred years, the Chamber had never done a deal like this. And in only five days, a deal that had never been done was officially closed and being implemented.

Now the time was ticking on fulfilling the physical execution of the alteration. The modified letters of the sign had already been printed. February 18th was a heavy wind day, and the sign could not be put up. February 19th rained, and the sign was delayed by another day. The sign finally was erected in time for the celebration parade for the Rams on February 20th.  The deal was done in 5 days and the set up in 3 days.

RAMS HOUSE” was successfully put up on the Hollywood Sign and taken down two days later. For the first time, the Hollywood sign was licensed and legitimately changed in support of a third party brand.

OVERCOMING CHALLENGES

Getting the deal done took more than just signing the contract. You’ve got engineering, quality control, approvals, and more to think about. All that had to be done in less than a week. Having a licensing management software with online approvals was a significant part of the entire process.

Evolution USA has done over 50 deals in their first year as the new licensing agent, but this was the first time the actual Hollywood Sign was altered and licensed. Evolution’s key challenges were:

  • Permitting process tight.
  • Timely approval cycle for graphics and fabrication.
  • Fast installation.
  • Contingent on RAMS win.

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. And Dependable Solutions helped Evolution USA to turn luck in their favor and celebrate a major win for the City of Los Angeles and the now Super Bowl LVI champions, the Los Angeles Rams

The Hollywood Sign is not just the Hollywood name as that is a location. The staggered letters are a trade dress that is an intellectual property unto itself and owned and controlled by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. The staggering of the letters itself is part of the official license.

Evolution tracks its clients’ trademarks everywhere in the world. All this needed to be captured in every classification around the world. A lot of intellectual property cleanup was needed to be done after 100 years including making sure all the trademarks were properly registered and tracked (which is what the Dependable Solutions system helps you do).

Putting a style guide online, rather than sending out CDs and books, quickly and efficiently helps people know how to effectively use brands and trademarks. Having all approved images uploaded in a system along with the style guides on how (or how not) to use the images is very important.

Inspiring stirs up curiosity while showcasing how the logo can be properly used is one of the many things you can do in your style guide. This allows people to get products out more quickly and efficiently and helps your licensee be successful.

Licensing software solutions also help on the financial side. All the contracts and the money due can be easily tracked electronically by all the people who need to be involved including the brand owners, the licensees, and the licensing agents. With the Dependable Solutions software, you can track money, create invoices, and get paid.

Dependable Solutions’ software works for domestic and international deals. It’s important to send out invoices in the right format with taxes including GSV, VAT, etc. otherwise you’re not getting paid in a timely manner.

In addition to invoicing out, Dependable Solutions software helps manage the money you may need to pay out. Sometimes the money received from a contract is not all yours and needs to be distributed to third parties like a brand owner, a photographer, an agent, talent, etc. In addition to tracking this information, Dependable Solutions software allows you to analyze your data through reports. Hundreds of predetermined reports are available along with others you can customize yourself in the system. These reports help you save time and resources while providing important insights into your business.

Get A Piece of Hollywood

The Hollywood Sign is having its 100th Anniversary in 2023. To help celebrate this momentous occasion, the Sign will be faithfully recreated in a smaller format and each of the nine letters will be put in different parts of Los Angeles throughout the year. Companies have an opportunity to sponsor one of the nine letters with the third party brand or IP being integrated on the base of the letter. There will be lots of press, TV shows and live events, music festivals, social media integrations, and celebrities helping with the 100th Anniversary celebration. Interested in sponsoring a letter of the Hollywood Sign, please contact Evolution.

Winners prepare to be winners. Dependable Solutions has the tools you need to prepare you to win. Evolution USA and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce took a big bet with the Los Angeles Rams, and Dependable Solutions and created their own Super Bowl win.

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