100,000 retailers for ABBA merchandising? – Ward’s firm guarantees group $US1 mil. By John Sippel

Los Angeles

The current debut U.S. tour by ABBA is supported by licensed merchandise tie-ins, which have the Swedish group’s logo, name and likeness in potentially 100,000 retail outlets in this country.

“And ABBA will realize at least $US1 million from minimum guarantees and conservative estimates of sales royalties from everything from T-shirts to posters and watches,” adds Burt Ward, founder of two-year-old Entertainment Licensing Corp.

Ward learned first-hand the vitality of merchandising tie-ins. While he was “Robin,” sidekick of “Batman” on television, Ward traveled the country on arena/auditorium personals with Adam West. He became personally involved in tie-in merchandise sales in connection with the concerts.

At the suggestion of local attorney John Mason, Ward conferred with ABBA manager Stig Anderson about the possibility of representing ABBA exclusively for merchandise tie-ins in the fall of 1978, Anderson told Ward the group in its history had realized $US250,000 in guarantees, but little in ancillary merchandise was ever produced or distributed.

The current ABBA domestic itinerary, which closes October 7th, 1979 after 18 concerts, has six national and one international merchandise manufacturers providing ABBA-related merchandise.

Pro Arts Inc., Medina, Ohio, is distributing a four-color $US2.50 poster of the group through a licensing deal with Ted Trikilis. Photo-Lith’s Jeff Cohen out of Stanton, California, is producing three Combo-Glitter heat transfers. Heat transfers are applied to T-shirts and sweaters in everything from department through record/retail stores.

A silkscreen T-shirt is available from the T-Shirtery in a deal made with Jay Cohen. TG&Y’s 1,100 stores, for example, ordered 72 shirts each as a starter.

Ward points out the total involvement of these merchants, noting the general manager of that retail chain has called consistently to inquire how the tour is doing.

Sales executives of the merchandise bombard their accounts with phone calls, hyping the aligned stores on ABBA’s concert success in a methodology much like record promotion.

Ward estimate that the above merchandise makers have as many as 25,000 accounts, which distribute to more than 70,000 stores.

Dallas Cap & Emblem’s Marv Gardener is the largest in his field in the world. That giant is selling two different nylon ABBA jackets at around $US15 retail and three $US7.50 caps with the group’s patches. The emblem patches, too, are available for $US1 each. Ward estimates the Dallas firm’s coverage at more than 150,000 retail locations globally.

Midwest Manufacturing, St. Louis, is wholesaling two different belt buckles and an electric disco visor for $US5 and Z$US10, respectively.

Tony Anton of Craft House, Toledo, has a $US3.95 color-your-own-poster, complete with felt tip pens. Bob Sanders of Timely Creations here has an ABBA wrist watch for $US19.95.

Ward has pending a mirror, tote bag, bulletin board, notebook cover and paperback deal for the Atlantic Recording act

Ward figures ABBA merchandise will be available by the holidays in 37 countries through the exclusive Entertainment Licensing agreements.

Another Ward corporation, Concert Management, has contracted with the 18 venues at which ABBA is performing to handle sale of the ABBA related merchandise. A three-person crew out of the Malibu/California, corporation is traveling with the ABBA entourage, setting up the concert sales.

The average group touring sells 80 to 90 cents per concertgoer in merchandise at a performance, Ward states, with supergroups pushing that figure up to $US1.10. ABBA did $US1.82 per attendee at the Edmonton, Canada, opening performance Thursday (13th) September 1979, he says.

Because ABBA has printed its own program through John Spaulding of Bocu Music, London, that program and a book are the only ABBA items being sold which do not license through Ward’s company.

Ward bought 6,000 copies of “ABBA, The Ultimate Pop Group” by Mary Ann Lindvill from A&W Publishers. Ward’s hawkers are selling the book for $US7 at concerts, with ABBA cut in on the revenue.

Ward places much importance for concert sales on the fact that his contract with the venue calls for the placement of large signs above the area where his vendors are operating. The signs denote their presence in the crowded arena foyers and also list all retail prices for items on sale. Transcribed for ABBA World

Billboard (USA) · 29 September 1979 (Page 6)

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