Alert: T S Eliot Estate $40 million cheese marketing deal announcement today
London, UK: T S Eliot marketing deal sets stage for global cheese-eating campaign
Announced today is the first major licensing agreement inked by the T S Eliot Estate: a US$40 million international sponsorship agreement with Dairy Management, the marketing agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, and the East Asia Milk Marketing Board. They will use the famous poet’s image and words to promote cheese and cheese products throughout the world. The cover of April 2013 issue of Culture magazine (shown here with cover story “T. S. Eliot on Poetry and Cheese” and “Recipes from Chinese Farmstead Cheese Makers”) is the famous National Gallery portrait of Eliot tucking into a selection of traditional British cheeses.
The death last November of Valerie Eliot, widow of the 20th century’s greatest writer, led scholars to hope for much greater access to papers held by the secretive and wealthy Eliot Estate. While speculation focuses on literary revelations that would help struggling PhD candidates to complete their dissertations and professors to produce book proposals, the Eliot Estate is also recognized as a treasure trove for commercial licensing.
In China, East, and Southeast Asia, the campaign will focus on how cheese promotes intellectual and artistic development in children. Berkshire’s CEO Karen Christensen, who worked for the Eliot Estate in the 1980s and who shares Eliot’s belief that one should “Never commit yourself to a cheese without having first . . . examined it,” will be the campaign’s consultant on China, Asia, and emerging economies.
Andrew Lloyd Webber has agreed to participate in the campaign by adding a song about mice and cheese to the new global run of Cats, with Chinese lyrics to be included on billboards in China with photographs of the show’s characters with favorite cheeses.
Other product endorsements are expected this spring. Amongst them, according to sources close to the Estate, is a special line of clothes from Ralph Lauren that will echo the transatlantic styles of the 1920s.
A massive series of literary publications are also in progress, a possible source of inspiration for further Broadway musicals and Eliot’s most famous poem, The Waste Land, is rumored to have been optioned by Tim Burton.
Karen Christensen, founder and CEO of Berkshire Publishing, worked for the Eliot Estate in London, and writes about Eliot and the transatlantic literary world of the 1920s and 1930s.
Karen Christensen is an entrepreneur, environmentalist, and scholar who writes about the many ways women have gained and wielded power. She is the owner and CEO of Berkshire Publishing Group, a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Press, a member of the National Committee on US-China Relations, and founder of the Train Campaign. Read Karen’s occasional dispatches from the frontlines of international publishing at the Berkshire Blog (or subscribe by clicking here) and follow her on Twitter @karenchristenze.