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					The Casper Star-Tribune: Printable Version

03/06/2006 02:29 PM

John Elway: Recliner pitchman
By KRISTI ARELLANO The Denver Post LONE TREE, Colo. -- While best known for the two Super Bowl championships he brought home while quarterbacking the Denver Broncos, John Elway has expanded his empire to include a popular steakhouse in Cherry Creek and a chain of auto dealerships that bear his name. But furniture? Bassett Furniture Industries of Bassett, Va., has sold its Elway line of home furnishings for more than a year at some of its 125 stores nationwide, but the line became available in the metro area only with December's opening of a Bassett store in Lone Tree. While celebrity branding is popular in many industries, it has recently gained prominence in the furniture world, with national companies launching lines by model Kathy Ireland, domestic diva Martha Stewart and Spanish talk-show hostess Cristina Saralegui. But the product and the celebrity typically need to have a natural association, said Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys Inc., a New York brand-research firm. "When you think John Elway, home furnishings are not the first thing that springs to mind," he said. For Bassett, the connection starts with the television. The company launched the Elway line in late 2004 with a focus on entertainment centers and recliners - products it believed would resonate with Elway's fan base. "It's the one room where the man of the house generally has some say in how it looks," said Michael Satterfield, vice president of marketing for Bassett. A "Vintage" leather sectional starts at $1,798, and an "Elite" entertainment center starts at $700. Prices increase depending on customization. Bassett has backed the line with a media campaign, including promotions, direct mail and 30second ads on cable channels such as ESPN, Fox News and Food Network. So far, Bassett has deemed the Elway line successful. Sales from the line account for 15 percent of Bassett's national sales volume, Satterfield said. In Colorado, it's double that. Pam and Ted Marlot, licensed Bassett dealers who opened the Lone Tree store, said the Elway line represents about 30 percent of their sales. Buyers comprise men and women, most of whom don't walk through the door seeking the Elway line, they said. The early success of the line prompted the company to expand into other areas. It unveiled
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The Casper Star-Tribune: Printable Version

03/06/2006 02:29 PM

bedroom and dining- room furniture this year. The popularity of the Elway line comes as no surprise to local sports enthusiasts. "People will definitely scoop up anything that has Elway's name on it in this town," said Clayton Reed, assistant manager at the Sportsfan team-memorabilia store in downtown Denver. The Elway furniture line, though, doesn't drip with orange and blue. In fact, it's hard to tell that much of the traditional and rustic-looking line is Elway-inspired. The pieces discreetly bear Elway's signature on a metal plate. One piece - a poker table - has a No. 7 incorporated into its logo design. The company says Elway had a role in the design of the furniture that bears his name, but Bassett representatives declined to describe the financial nature of the deal. Elway was not available for comment. In addition to resonating with consumers, celebrity- branded furniture lines are also popular because the company can trot out the individual to meet with dealers, said Jo Flei scher, senior editor for InFurniture magazine. "Dealers would love to meet and work with a Super Bowl championship quarterback," Fleischer said.

http://www.casperstartribune.net/articles/2006/03/06/news/regional/a8ab24719850c80c87257128002e5fad.prt

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