MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Elvis Presley is in play.

CKx Inc., owner of the “American Idol” television program and 85 percent of Elvis Presley Enterprises, is mulling at least two offers to buy the company. At the same time, thousands of Elvis fans have descended on Memphis for Elvis Week, the annual commemoration of the American music icon’s life and death.

CKx owns rights to the name, image and likeness of Presley and the operations of Graceland, his Memphis mansion. While the “American Idol” franchise is the company’s main money maker, the Elvis brand is still an earner.

Presley, who died in 1977, generated more than $60 million last year in revenue from royalties, licensing and Graceland’s operations.

Two faces familiar to CKx have offered to buy it: Robert Sillerman, the company’s former CEO, and Simon Fuller, the British media mogul who created the “Idol” franchise before selling his company, 19 Entertainment, to CKx in 2005.

A sale is not expected to significantly affect the Elvis business.

“There is upside and growth to Elvis, and I think anybody who would buy it is someone who’s going to come in and believe they can take it to the next level,” CKx CEO Michael G. Ferrel said.

Elvis Presley Enterprises has 260 licensees, including SiriusXM, American Greetings and Mattel. Last year’s revenue from licensing and royalties rose 34 percent compared with 2008.

Interest in Presley remains strong, and the brand is constantly being refreshed. For example, “Viva Elvis,” a Cirque du Soleil show, has been a hit in Las Vegas since opening in February.

More than 400 U.S. theaters showed the remastered film, “Elvis on Tour: 75th Anniversary Celebration,” on July 29.

Presley remains highly visible on the Internet, with a Facebook fan page boasting 1 million fans and a website that gets an average of 700,000 unique visitors a month, according to Jack Soden, president and CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises.

The Elvis marketing machine seeks to attract younger consumers without abandoning its core audience of people 45 and above. Marketers are relying on fans who never saw in person the youthful, thin Elvis, or even the older, chubby Elvis to keep interest alive.

Presley’s music is still the cornerstone of his success and the future of the brand. Recently, a Nike soccer advertisement featuring the Presley song, “A Little Less Conversation,” struck a chord with the 18-to-34 demographic in Britain, a sign that the company’s strategy to reach out to younger consumers is working, Ferrel said.


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