Miguelito Builds On Successful Apparel Line To Strike More Licensing Deals

Miguel Valenzuela is like a lot of other 12-year-old kids-he wears braces on his teeth, plays videogames and loves Daddy Yankee.

But the pint-sized reggaetón star, better-known as Miguelito, has signed an array of licensing deals that underscore the opportunities that Latin artists can mine.

At a press conference in January, Miguelito received a plaque from Nelson Menda, president of Puerto Rican clothing retailer Me Salve, to mark the sale of 3.5 million articles of Miguelito-branded clothing and accessories by the chain. He also announced a new round of licensing partnerships to launch, among other products, Miguelito-branded children's vitamins, anti-lice hair gel and a videogame by a new Miami-based company called Global Games Entertainment.

Each deal is modest in scope, but combined, they reflect the kid rapper's broad appeal and the savviness with which his team has approached licensing opportunities.

Consider his experience with Me Salve, which operates about 120 stores in Puerto Rico. Me Salve purchasing manager Jose Otero approached Miguelito in early 2008 with the idea of launching a clothing line for children, thinking the clean-cut child star would make a good celebrity spokesman.

Otero negotiated a deal with Miguelito's manager, his father Wascar Valenzuela, who owns boat and motorcycle accessory retail stores but had never worked in the music business before. Under their deal, Miguelito receives a percentage of everything sold under his name which, Valenzuela says, has turned out to be more lucrative than a typical sponsorship fee. The line launched on Black Friday in 2008 and sold out in three weeks, Otero says. Since then, it has expanded to include a girl's line of clothing and a baby line.

"We honestly never imagined how big a mass of people he reaches in Puerto Rico," Otero says.

Miguelito has capitalized on that appeal to lend his name to other branded products and services. A&A Tours of Puerto Rico sold a nine-day, eight-night Miguelito-branded cruise in December 2009 on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, an offer it expects to repeat later this year. Miguelito will participate in at least one daily activity with the fans who buy his package, and gets a percentage of the bookings, his father says.

"All the deals contribute in one way or another, but our biggest business is the line of clothing and live shows," Valenzuela says, adding that Miguelito performs about four to five shows per month.

Now, Valenzuela is negotiating a distribution deal with Venemusic for his son's upcoming album, the soundtrack to the film "Nadie Sabe lo Que Tiene," written and directed by renowned Puerto Rican music video director David Impelluso, and starring, of course, Miguelito.

At the center of all these deals is still Miguelito the performer. "If we don't have that, and if we don't have the shows," he says, "then there's nothing."