Led Zeppelin, KISS, Paris Hilton: Licensing International Expo Preview
Led Zeppelin, KISS, Paris Hilton: Licensing International Expo Preview

John Wayne has been dead since 1979 and Led Zeppelin disbanded in 1980, yet both hope to find new life in Las Vegas beginning June 14.

That's when the actor and the legendary band will be packaged and promoted with new product offerings, fresh merchandise and line extensions as part of the 31st Licensing International Expo, presented by Advanstar and the trade group LIMA.

They will be among more than 6,000 brands -- from Barbie dolls to Paris Hilton to My Fair Wedding host David Tutera -- that 400 exhibitors (including 150 first-timers) hope will appeal to retail and manufacturing executives from more than 90 countries who are part of the $187 billon global licensing industry.

John Wayne Enterprises, now run by the star's 49-year-old son Ethan, will be there pitching a strategic campaign to extend the Duke's brand worldwide with a range of products that include collectibles, books, gifts, novelties, food products and an upcoming auction of his personal and professional possessions.

"We had done things like guns, knives and saddles over the years," says Ethan Wayne, "but now we are taking a new look at the John Wayne brand."

Wayne loved beef jerky, so now there is a line of the stuff. There also are new deals with American Classics for T-shirts; with Powerhouse Books for a book of photos; and with Aria Multimedia Entertainment for a collector's book costing about $300 a copy.

There is a line of John Wayne foods like franks & beans and trail chili coming that is a co-branded with Paramount, and a fashion line of clothing with Wayne-inspired images and famous quotes will show up this year at Fred Segal, Urban Outfitters, Neiman Marcus and other stores.

There also is a deal with Heritage Auctions for a sale of items like Wayne's scripts, passport and 1929 prop man master card, which will be previewed during a road show in New York and Dallas before the Oct. 3 sale in Century City. A portion goes to the John Wayne Cancer Fund.

Plans to go global with Led Zeppelin include apparel (shirts, designer jeans, accessories), headphones, electronic products and a range of virtual world merchandise, according to Dell Furano, CEO of Live Nation Merchandise.

Furano, whose list of licensed bands includes the Beatles, Madonna and AC/DC, will also be pushing a major extension of the KISS brand that already includes condoms and caskets. "The band likes to say they get them coming and going," Furano quipped.

Furano also will use the show to announce a new deal for KISS with Grab Games, which creates games for social media (similar to Farmville) in virtual worlds on interactive platforms. The deal was negotiated by WME.