Originating as a radio series in 1933, the Lone Ranger is a cross-media star who has appeared in comic strips, comic books, adult and juvenile novels, feature films and serials, clothing, games, toys, home furnishings, and many other consumer products. In his prime, he rivaled Mickey Mouse as one of the most successfully licensed and merchandised children's properties in the United States, while in more recent decades, the Lone Ranger has struggled to resonate with consumers, leading to efforts to rebrand the property. The Lone Ranger's eighty-year history as a lifestyle brand thus offers a perfect case study of how the fields of licensing, merchandizing, and brand management have operated within shifting industrial and sociohistorical conditions that continue to redefine how the business of entertainment functions.
Deciphering how iconic characters gain and retain their status as cultural commodities, Selling the Silver Bullet focuses on the work done by peripheral consumer product and licensing divisions in selectively extending the characters' reach and in cultivating investment in these characters among potential stakeholders. Tracing the Lone Ranger's decades-long career as intellectual property allows Avi Santo to analyze the mechanisms that drive contemporary character licensing and entertainment brand management practices, while at the same time situating the licensing field's development within particular sociohistorical and industrial contexts. He also offers a nuanced assessment of the ways that character licensing firms and consumer product divisions have responded to changing cultural and economic conditions over the past eighty years, which will alter perceptions about the creative and managerial authority these ancillary units wield.
Chapter 1: Hi-Yo Licensing
Chapter 2: Putting on the Mask: Character Licensing before the Lone Ranger
Chapter 3: Building the Franchise One Market at a Time: The Lone Ranger's Extra-textual Career in the Late 1930s
Chapter 4: The Lone Ranger and the Law: The Construction of Corporate Authorship
Chapter 5: Containing the Ranger: Postwar Cultural (Re)Branding and the Industrial Logics of Containment
Chapter 6: Managing a Legend: The Troubled Career of the Lone Ranger as Heritage Brand
Chapter 7: The Lone Ranger and the Mouse House Together at Last? New Twenty-First-Century Partnerships in the Licensing Biz
Chapter 8: Parting Shots
"I’m fascinated by this compelling book about the Lone Ranger as a uniquely American heritage brand and its management—or mismanagement—over four generations. With profound insight, Avi Santo explores the role that my father, Clayton Moore, played in preserving the legacy of the Lone Ranger. Even die-hard fans like me will find many new insider revelations about our hero."