Cooking Up Something New By Nicole Davis
Trust is an important factor in any successful brand licensing program, but perhaps no more so that for products that relate directly to consumers’ food and family. For that very reason, the licensing of celebrity chef brands have become a genre in its own right.
A celebrity chef brings to the table a distinctive, memorable personality and they have to be incredibly talented and innovative and they must be able to translate that genius into something that feels attainable for everyday cooks.
That combination of trustworthiness, accessibility and charisma is what drives the most successful personality-based licensing programs and celebrity chef Jason Santos featured here has all the right ingredients.
Jason Santos – The Blue-Haired Virtuoso
It’s hard to miss Jason Santos–aside from his outspoken personality and inventive dishes, he has electric blue hair. A New England staple for years, Santos first entered the national scene as a contestant on “Hell’s Kitchen” in 2010. He now makes frequent appearances on CBS’ “The Talk” and “The Early Show,” “The Today Show” on NBC and a variety of local New England TV stations.
Known for his attention to visual detail and his creativity when it comes to both food and beverages, Santos currently has three restaurants in the Boston area–Blue Inc., Back Bay Harry’s and Abbey Lane–offering a range of cuisines with a Santos twist.
Earlier this year, C3 Entertainment was appointed to represent Santos for licensing and merchandising worldwide.
“What we’re going to do is elevate the brand,” says Pablo Velez, Director of Development and Production, C3. “Jason is a very successful restaurateur and is all over the TV circuit. The table is set, so it’s just a matter of building on that. Our strategy is two-fold–one, to get him a more regular TV presence and two, to elevate the brand through a true licensing program.”
Santos’ unique image–the blue hair and his tattoos–mirror his approach to cooking. “All of his products will always have an edge,” says Velez. “If it’s mayonnaise, it’s not going to be your typical mayo. It will be infused with something that’s maybe not so traditional. Nothing about Jason is cookie-cutter, so that will be reflected in his products.”
C3 plans to launch Santos’ licensing program with publishing, followed by a roster of cooking and food items.
“Jason has accrued over 22,000 recipes that he’s created over the years, so publishing is No. 1 on our list, ” says Ani Khachoian, Executive Vice President of Licensing and Consumer Products, C3. “These won’t just be your normal, everyday cookbooks though. Jason is not an ordinary chef, he’s very eccentric, so the cookbooks will be different as well. I’d also like to work with some of the companies he’s done sponsorships with like Idaho Potato, Hood and Heluva Good to come up with products under those brands. For instance, Jason makes his own dips, so that is something we’ll definitely want to package. And it’s not just the food. He makes these amazing drinks to complement his food, so beverages are definitely a target as well.”
Other categories that C3 is considering for expansion include cookware, sauces, dressings, apparel and hair products.