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June 2004 | Vol. III - No. 6


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Applause: Licensed Plush and a Dream


Applause LLC was sold to RUSS BERRIE AND COMPANY INC in October 2004


Bob Solomon, president and chairman of Applause, LLC, has a twenty-year background in the gift and collectibles industry. He first joined the company in 1988. He left in 1991, bought Dakin and then merged with Applause in 1995. In 1997, he left again. He bought Applause out of foreclosure in 2001 and obtained licensing deals with Universal, Disney, and Sony. His merchandise is sold in fifty thousand specialty retail stores worldwide, such as Hallmark and Cracker Barrel, as well as others.

Instinctive, he tends to look back in time and believes that creating and offering something will lead to reward and long-term success. He criticizes those who start with the reward, a tactic that often only brings short-term success.

Solomon states, "I´m the sole owner of Applause. My objectives are clear. I´m not necessarily working toward this quarter´s sales figures. I´m not worried about the public perception of where my stock is trading. And I run my company like an entrepreneur."

He describes his compass as straight and answers only to himself. "I´m a gift company. My products are bought and sold and given as an expression of love or sentiment."

His sales are often impulse purchases, so he looks for characters that can express a sentiment with a message or elicit happiness with a special pose or fabric. Disney characters are best. Winnie the Pooh, Raggedy Ann and Andy, Mickey Mouse, Snoopy, and the Simpsons are winners. Solomon cemented licensing deals for the original Star Wars, E.T., and all the Disney movies. Finding Nemo, Cat in the Hat, and Legally Blonde are more recent additions to his list of contracts.

Although he sees the appeal in blockbuster films, he finds that movies are rarely an indicator of what the current trend will be and says, "As the posse is all heading north, I head south."

"Too much of a good thing is not good," he continues. "Major media companies have given us so much intellectual property. They have flooded the marketplace with so much that the attention span of the consumer is short. Generally speaking, so is the life of the character or property. The life of the appeal is dramatically shortened."

He predicts that his newest venture, Dream Pets, will be widely embraced around the world. "I´m reintroducing something that was a cultural phenomenon nearly fifty years ago. Their very creation was not contrived. It was created with the innocence of factory workers in ."

The workers cut out patterns and swept sawdust into them. "They represent a very good example of something that´s not planned, not contrived. It´s a phenomenon that hits a chord."

With over two thousand designs, this unique line of collectibles doesn´t need a six-month marketing plan. Coming from a man who´s been on the pop culture pulse for two decades, his spontaneity is refreshing.






Writer's Bio: Julia Ann Charpentier is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer and an editor for book publishers. Read more articles by this author


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