Kitson, every pop tart's favorite LA boutique, has filed a countersuit against Majestic Mills, the manufacturer of Nicole Richie's Winter Kate line, WWD is reporting. In the suit, Kitson claims that because Majestic Mills dropped the ball on getting Richie to appear at the launch party for Winter Kate and House of Harlow 1960 shoes, the store was "deprived of profits in excess of $500,000."
Richie's manufacturer, Majestic Mills, filed the initial suit against Kiston in August claiming that the retailer owed $225,000 worth of merchandise.
What's striking about this increasingly messy legal battle, is Kitson's claim that one Nicole Richie appearance is worth $500K. Could that be right? Sure, she's got cute hair and cute babies and dresses cute sometimes, but $500K? That seems like a lot. Maybe not, though. We consulted Jo Piazza, author of the forthcoming book, Celebrity Inc. Inside the Business of Being Famous, which examines how celebrity business models work, to break down that number.
"Yes, they're saying a Richie appearance would have generated $500,000 in profit," says Piazza. "While a Richie appearance fee is probably only around $20,000, her appearance would have generated a lot of publicity for the shop, even up to half a million...you have to look at it in terms of advertising dollars."
- $60,000 in print advertising. A Kitson appearance is going to, at best, get her a quarter page single pic in the weeklies. That real estate is worth about $10,000, and there are six big weeklies (People, OK!, In Touch, US Weekly, Star and Life and Style). But, Piazza qualifies, "events like this are a dime a dozen and Nicole Richie is at best a C-list star who is photographed everywhere so the space devoted to the event would be pretty small."
- Up to $500,000 Television spots are where the real money comes into play. E! news, Access Hollywood, The Insider, Entertainment Tonight, and, if something crazy happens, TMZ, might all cover the event. And the average 30 second ad that runs during these kinds of shows costs around $100,000, says Piazza. That kind of coverage requires an excellent team of publicists. But it's possible.
"I think it is totally plausible that with the exposure Kitson would have gotten from a Richie appearance, one that was publicized and managed properly, they could have generated a quarter million in sales based on the publicity they would have gotten," says Piazza.
Richie's failure to appear could have done serious damage to a store like Kitson. The LA-boutique has built their business on celebrity. We've all seen countless paparazzi photos of celebrities like Paris Hilton and La Lohan and Richie leaving Kitson, their arms weighted down with those blue bags that scream "KITSON" across the side in bold lettering. Those images flash across the store's website. It's part of their brand. Kitson depends on these images for business.
"Kitson started [getting celebs snapped at their store] around the time the number of celeb weeklies went from two to six (between '02 and '04) and the news hole for celebrities started gaping so wide open that they needed to fill it with fake celebrities. Enter Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie," says Piazza. "Kitson also evolved as those C-list celebrities created their own clothing lines and then became the go to spot for those."
So if celebrities stop showing up for appearances, stop shopping at the boutique followed by a hoard of paps, or people lose interest in bad celebrity lines, where does that leave Kitson?