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 'American Idol' Taylor Hicks turns to Birmingham

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wietzema
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PostSubject: 'American Idol' Taylor Hicks turns to Birmingham   Tue Jul 07, 2009 8:30 am

'American Idol' Taylor Hicks turns to Birmingham pros to advance his post-'Idol' brand

Saturday, July 04, 2009

MICHAEL TOMBERLIN
News staff writer

Taylor Hicks has moved beyond the "American Idol" title to become his own brand.

Hicks has picked Birmingham's WilbanksElam Marketing & Public Relations to help him promote that brand in his home state - a state that helped make him an American idol and catapulted him to celebrity in 2006.

"With the American Idol phenomenon, people are personally invested in your career and future because of all the voting done on the show," Hicks said in an interview. "Being from Birmingham, being from Alabama, I want to keep as many people as I can informed about what I'm doing because I feel like they have a vested interest."

But without the "American Idol" marketing machine behind him, Hicks has had to take control of his own career. He is performing a role in the touring musical "Grease" while also promoting "The Distance," the first album produced on his own Modern Whomp Records label.

It's not a stretch to say Hicks has been a corporate entity in his post-"American Idol" days.

His Modern Whomp Inc. handles his merchandising. Taylor Hicks Touring handles his concerts and tour events. All of the companies fall under Taylor Hicks LLC.

"Building my brand from the ground up, I wanted to make sure I had people who knew me and people I could trust," Hicks said. "Having those people be there and working for me there in Birmingham just gives me another reason to come home."

Hicks' lawyer, Michael Douglas, is with the Birmingham firm of Friedman, Leak, Dazzio, Zulanas and Bowling. His financial management is handled by Stanford Roberts of Birmingham's Hartline & Roberts.

Krista Conlin handles the Taylor Hicks work for WilbanksElam. Hicks and Conlin are childhood friends, which is what drew Hicks to WilbanksElam. The same connections have come into play with other business relationships.

"I've known Krista all my life. I knew she was an intelligent and savvy person to start out with, but when got into marketing and public relations - which is directly related to my field - it was a no-brainer," Hicks said. "Luckily I've been able to watch my friends grow in their respective careers.


"That's something that was always intriguing because as I was growing in my career I also observed them in their careers and if those careers could co-relate with each other, then it would be a no-brainer to use those people. I'm very lucky to have a Birmingham-based team there."

New territory:

Handling a celebrity is new territory for WilbanksElam.


"We've always covered the gamut on different industries and types of client, but entertainment is a different target for us," said Conlin, who previously handled a branding campaign for a new retail line, Orange Clothing Co., in Miami.

Principal Lydia Wilbanks said it could be a growing area for the firm, whose business clients include Birmingham's Sanders Trust, a firm that buys health care properties, and ServisFirst Bank.

"It's new and hopefully it will be a trend," she said. "I'm proud Taylor loved Alabama enough to want to have a local agency. It says a lot about him."

Conlin said Hicks is very involved in his own promotion and protective of his image.

"Someone like Taylor makes it easy because he is a star in his own right and he enjoys doing what he wants to do," she said. "He's got a great sense of what he wants, but he also allows us to take the reins and lead."

Hicks also has BWR Public Relations, the L.A.-based national PR firm, promoting him. The Grease tour has its own promotions coordinator pushing Hicks, who plays the role of Teen Angel (the Frankie Avalon role in the 1978 movie).

It's all heady stuff for a guy who traveled in his own car trying to string together gigs.

"I went from trying to book a sorority gig on my own to having three publicists," he said.

Hicks and the Grease tour come to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Concert Hall on Sept. 22-27, while Hicks will perform at WorkPlay Theatre on Sept. 25 and Sept. 26.

Ahead of his game:

Kara Kennedy, director of external affairs for the Brock School of Business at Samford University, has worked with entertainment clients and has had to establish the newly-named business school's brand.

She said Hicks is ahead of the game with his branding initiative because he is already widely known through "American Idol."

"I think he can catapult himself from that to his own name and brand simply because people know who he is," Kennedy said. "He, in some sense, already has his brand identity because he won that program."

Hicks admits "American Idol" gave him a rocket-like boost, but now he wants to expand his identity beyond his victory on the show.

"I think now that you've developed your brand, it's time to expand on that and keep the brand out there," Hicks said. "You have to cover your hometown bases."

E-mail: mtomberlin@bhamnews.com HICKSXX -- HICKS:

http://www.al.com/business/birminghamnews/...8130.xml&coll=2
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PostSubject: Re: 'American Idol' Taylor Hicks turns to Birmingham   Tue Jul 07, 2009 1:18 pm

That's a truly facinating read into the business side of Taylor that so many try to deny of not notice but I knew was there. Thank you.
~tyg




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PostSubject: Re: 'American Idol' Taylor Hicks turns to Birmingham   Tue Jul 07, 2009 10:28 pm

Awesome article. This shows Taylor's doubting Thomas that he knows what he's doing.
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PostSubject: Re: 'American Idol' Taylor Hicks turns to Birmingham   Thu Jul 09, 2009 2:09 pm






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PostSubject: Re: 'American Idol' Taylor Hicks turns to Birmingham   Thu Jul 09, 2009 2:29 pm

OMG, he looks so hot in this picture.

Is it me or does the guy in the light colored sweater look extremely bored? LOL I love how Taylor is getting better and better everytime I read about him.
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