Jackson tragedy kicks off Elvis-style hysteria

The tragic death of pop icon Michael Jackson overnight has led to a surge in sales for his albums on Amazon.co.uk, with parallels now being drawn to the merchandising success story of Elvis Presley following his death in 1977.

Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson

This morning Amazon.co.uk saw Jackson’s albums take 14 of the top 20 spots on its sales chart.

Naked Communications head of entertainment Matt Jagger says he expects to see a number of Jackson tracks reaching number one or the top ten in download sales on iTunes “very quickly”.

He adds that Jackson’s dramatic resurgence in popularity is likely to mirror that of Presley, who’s estate reaped millions from merchandising and turned his home, Graceland, into a tourist attraction.

In 2005 Forbes magazine named Presley the top-earning deceased celebrity for the fifth year running, grossing US$45m for the Presley estate during the preceding year.

However Jackson sold his amusement park styled 2,500-acre Neverland ranch in California to Sycamore Valley Ranch Company last year.

It is already expected that commemorative Jackson albums and DVDs will be launched, with record company Sony capitalising on the renewed interest in the artist’s back catalogue.

Five has also announced that it is airing a special programme tonight (June 26) hosted by Natasha Kaplinsky looking back at the life and career of Jackson.

Jack Horner, founder and creative director of music marketing agency FRUKT, says despite the tragedy, the eagerness of the public to buy tickets to his latest tour revealed the true strength of the “Michael Jackson brand”.

“What’s interesting is when he announced his tour, almost 15 years of troubled times were forgotten, as millions of tickets were sold out,” Horner says.

“People wanted him to come back as a hero, so if it had to happen, now is almost the best point that it could happen.”

Jackson was also the face for many big brands during his career, including Pepsi, Sony, LA Gear and Suzuki.

A big question that still remains is whether his assets will outweigh his liabilities, with some estimating he owed well over $400m.

Jackson, who died from a heart attack at his Los Angeles home, was due to begin the first of a 50 date concert series at The O2 arena next month.

Jagger says The O2 will now face the challenge of filling the arena in what should have been a pinnacle year for the entertainment venue.

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