BMG's $25 mil effort pits Elvis vs. Beatles

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Elvis will now be all shook up. Again.

Taking a page from Capitol Records' success last year with the Beatles "1" release, Bertelsmann AG's BMG music division is rocking and rolling with $25 million-plus marketing campaign to mark the 25th anniversary of Mr. Presley's death.

BMG and RCA Records are behind a CD called "Elv1s 30: Number One Hits," which will be released Oct. 29. Mr. Presley's longtime label RCA had never previously released Elvis Presley's No. 1 hits on a single CD.

For the effort, BMG has enlisted tie-in marketing partners AOL Time Warner, Walt Disney Co., Lycos and Nascar. BMG also is being helped by two of its divisions-magazine division Gruner & Jahr and book unit Random House. Marketing executives said Nike will also be involved, though BMG executives would not confirm.

Gruner & Jahr USA will produce a custom 200-page special magazine about Elvis featuring rare interviews and photos, while BMG's book division, Random House, will release a series of four books about Elvis throughout the year.

AOL Time Warner's marketing/promotion plan includes working with AOL Music in providing song downloads, as well as online and offline efforts with TV its cable networks WB, TNT and TBS, as well as Time Inc. publications.


Elvis Presley will also have a major presence in Walt Disney Co.'s summer animated release "Lilo & Stitch": Eight of his songs will be heard on the film's soundtrack. The story focuses on a girl, Lilo, who adopts a dog, Stitch, who is actually an evil alien. Lilo also has a obsession with Elvis Presley and dresses up the dog as Elvis.

Later this year, Nascar will have a special Elvis Presley race car for one of its November races.

"It's a full, integrated campaign," said Joe DiMuro, senior VP-strategic marketing, BMG North America.

Capitol Records' Beatles "1" release scored a major success, selling 8 million to 9 million units in the U.S. and about 20 million worldwide. BMG's goal for the King: About 7 million unit sales in the U.S.

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