As rebranding goes, it is being handled with the precision of a military operation.
When news broke around the world that Meghan Markle’s Spotify podcast had been axed – amid bitter accusations that the Duchess and husband Harry were ‘grifters’ (American for ‘con-artist’) – her high-octane Hollywood team had already hit the ground running.
Led by powerhouse agent Ari Emanuel, the charismatic head of talent agency William Morris Endeavor (WME), the mission to reinvent Meghan is already underway, The Mail on Sunday has learned.
If the rumors swirling around LA are true, she could be on the verge of signing a major deal with French couture house Dior, making her a face of the company alongside global stars like Rihanna and Jennifer Lawrence.
‘Meghan’s got everyone talking,’ said a prominent Beverly Hills socialite last night.
Meghan Markle joins royals in Kent for a service at London’s Westminster Abbey to mark the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force
Harry was with his wife Meghan as they attended a reception hosted by British Ambassador Thomas Reilly at the British residence in Rabat, Morocco.
Rumors have been swirling for weeks that she is about to sign a deal with Dior which has sent the gossip mill into overdrive. If he pulls it off, no one will think his silly little podcast got canceled after one season.’
The Duchess, 41, has been engrossed in meetings since signing with Emanuel, seemingly oblivious to an even bigger storm cloud, as streaming giant Netflix conducts an ‘ongoing review’ of its £80million deal with the Sussexes.
‘We knew the Spotify announcement was coming,’ a source at WME told me.
“It may come as a shock to everyone else but we’ve been working on Meghan’s rebranding for weeks.
‘Ari is the best in the business when it comes to corporate deals and making money. He is excited to represent Meghan and has thrown all his energy into it. Offers coming with other podcast platforms.’
The Sussexes’ £15 million Spotify deal was signed in 2020 but provided just 13 hours of programming over two and a half years: 12 episodes of Meghan’s Archetypes podcast and a holiday special.
The push to end the deal was heightened by Spotify executive Bill Simmons, its head of podcast innovation and monetization, describing the pair as petty crooks – or ‘f***ing grifters’ as he put it.
However, celebrity crisis expert Eric Schiffer says Team Megan will use the drama to their advantage.
Meghan Markle leaves after giving thanks for Queen Elizabeth II’s reign at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, Friday, June 3
Meghan Markle, center of photo holding Archie, stunned in a white Dior dress for her son’s christening in Windsor
‘These guys were already on the warpath because they knew the Spotify announcement was coming,’ he said.
Ari will have a strategic and tactical battle plan to connect him with sophisticated brand partners like Dior. This is an opportunity to distance Meghan from the negativity of the past. “It’s no accident that he didn’t go to the coronation, that he didn’t appear in London with Prince Harry at court recently,” she said, referring to the Duke’s appearance in the witness box over his phone hacking. Case against Mirror Group newspapers.
‘Meghan would be wise to distance herself from her husband’s toxic drama. This is a woman who keeps moving forward. It’s about building a global brand. Some big deals will be announced soon.’
Those deals couldn’t come soon enough for the Sussexes, who have vowed to become financially independent after giving up being senior royals.
They need a large income to finance their lavish lifestyle and keep up with their Hollywood friends.
Public records in the US show they bought their 16-bathroom Montecito mansion in 2020 for $14.65 million (£11.4 million) and have a $9.5 million (£7.4 million) mortgage on it. On top of that is an annual property tax of $141,403 (£113,000).
Not to mention the cost of security, estimated at around £2 million a year, including nannies, housekeepers, office staff, gardeners and travel expenses including the private jets the couple love so much.
According to experts, the legal fees for the five separate cases that Harry is litigating could run into the ‘hundreds of millions’.
Meghan wowed in a sweeping kaftan-inspired Dior gown as she joined husband Prince Harry for a reception at the British ambassador’s residence in Morocco.
Meghan Markle paid a subtle tribute to her late mother-in-law Princess Diana by carrying a Dior bag named after her as she attended the Global Citizen Live event in New York.
If Megan signs with Dior, she could easily remain or take over Johnny Depp’s recent £15 million, three-year deal to be the face of men’s fragrance Sauvage.
An insider who used to work for Oprah Winfrey – who turned a daytime talk show into a billion-dollar brand – said: ‘Meghan could end up being worth tens of millions of dollars.’
Indeed, if the rumors about Dior turn out to be true, it will be a match made in fashion heaven. Meghan has long been a fan, choosing to wear head-to-toe Dior for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee service.
Two years ago, she carried a monogrammed version of the iconic Lady Dior bag to a Global Citizen concert in New York.
The bag was named in homage to Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, her pre-wedding nickname ‘Lady Dee’. Harry has also apparently become a fan of the label, wearing a custom-made Dior suit for the King’s coronation.
Another clue to Meghan’s brand-building ambitions came last week when it was revealed that Sussex’s private office is being run by Harrison Colcord. He was previously director of sales and marketing at the five-star San Isidro Ranch in Montecito, a luxury hotel where rooms cost up to £3,200 a night.
The establishment, not far from their mansion, is owned by tycoon Ty Warner, whose £4.5 billion fortune was built on the Benny Babies toys he made. He has since amassed a luxury hotel portfolio that includes the Four Seasons in New York and Las Ventanas in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, a favorite of stars such as Jennifer Aniston and Lady Gaga.
Meghan and Harry lived in San Ysidro while their mansion was undergoing renovations and was photographed in the lush grounds for a Variety magazine shoot. Meanwhile, Harry chose the hotel’s quaint cottages for film interviews to promote his memoir Spare, including one with ITV’s Tom Bradby.
The cottage was where President John F. Kennedy honeymooned with Jackie in 1953. Regardless of the allegations circulating in the spare, Meghan is now ready to move on, said image expert Mr. Schiffer, chairman of Reputation Management Consultants.
“I think Meghan is reading the right tea leaves to distance herself from the toxic emotional drama that Harry has been unable to contain in the past,” he said. ‘It’s a trick and he’s getting great advice. “People are sick and tired of Harry constantly bashing his family and I don’t think he’s doing himself any favors by blaming the press for everything that went wrong in his life and dredging up stories from 25 years ago.
“Meghan will be positive and focus on all the things that made her attractive to millennials and Gens X and Z in the first place,” he said, referring to demographic terms for the under-40s.
Meghan looked perfectly stylish in a vintage Dior coat as she joined Prince Harry, 34, for Lena Tindall’s christening.
Meghan looked elegant in Dior ‘De-Moi’ pumps as she attended an event at the Invictus Games in September
At the Queen’s funeral, she wore a black Stella McCartney cape dress with a Dior hat.
‘She will return to the image of a strong, successful woman who has built her own career and focus on serious women’s issues, but also fun and aspirational subjects such as couture fashion.’
His new agent Emmanuel is ‘super connected’ in the Middle East and considers Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum a good friend.
During Covid, WME – which owns the Ultimate Fighting Championship – set up a ‘bubble’ on an island off the Emirates coast, dubbed ‘Fight Island’, and began staging televised bouts, bringing in millions through television rights and pay-per-view. . – Watch streaming.
‘Hollywood ground to a standstill and no one was making money but Arie found a way to make crores even during Covid,’ said a source.
No doubt, he would be careful to avoid any trouble if he wanted to link ‘Meghan Inc.’ to his wealthy Arab clients.
The Duchess was criticized for giving her ‘blood diamond’ chandelier earrings on her wedding day from Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was responsible for the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. At the time her lawyer Schillings said she gave a strongly worded statement defending the duchess, insisting she had no idea of Prince Mohammed’s suspected involvement in the murder. The source said: ‘Ari would not make such a mistake. She’s super connected, tough and bright.’ Emanuel’s influence on his latest client is already evident.
The agent is married to fashion designer Sarah Staudinger, and Meghan chose to wear a two-piece pink linen suit from her stud label for a recent – and much-photographed – appearance at an LA Lakers basketball game. ‘Emmanuel is incredibly disciplined in his personal life,’ my source tells me. ‘He’s been a strict vegetarian for years and knows everything there is to know about gut health. He becomes obsessed with the subject and talks to experts until he knows everything. When he goes to a restaurant he takes his own vegan meal prepared by his personal chef. ‘Megan is lucky to have him on her team. If Ari can’t make him a global brand, no one can.’
Also represented by WME are Meghan’s close friend Oprah Winfrey, Wimbledon champion Serena Williams and filmmaker Tyler Perry.
It was Perry who owed the Sussexes his Hollywood mansion when they moved to Los Angeles after Megxit, and he is godfather to their two-year-old daughter Lilybet.
The Sussexes also reportedly enjoyed a vacation on Perry’s private island in the Bahamas. Among the couple’s circle of business mentors is close friend and neighbor Victoria Jackson, who built one of the first TV ‘infomercial’ make-up empires.
Ms Jackson is married to Bill Guthrie whose direct marketing firm Guthrie-Renka helped former supermodel Cindy Crawford turn her Meaningful Beauty line of creams and cosmetics into an £80m brand and also represents Jennifer Lopez’s JLo Beauty.
‘Meghan and Victoria are very close,’ the Montecito source said.
‘If anyone can help Meghan build a skincare or make-up brand, it’s Victoria and Bill.’ Meghan recently renewed her trademark for The Teague, the wellness and lifestyle blog she started in 2014 but shut down in 2017 after she got engaged.
Experts believe he can earn up to $200,000 per post for endorsing brands.
Alison Bringz of brand performance company LouchMetrics said: ‘He’ll be in line with the best-paid mega-influencers in the world, if not the highest-paid.’ Jeremy Murphy, who runs the 360bespoke PR agency in New York, said Meghan was reclaiming her identity.
‘She and Harry seem to be on different tracks which could be a problem,’ she said.
‘I don’t think most people know Harry believes in anything other than his wife and children.
An increasing number of people see Harry as a deer in headlights and he is steering the car. Ari Emanuel is going to fix that.
There’s finally an adult in the room.’ For now, Montecito’s silence is deafening.
But if Meghan Inc.’s plans are anything to go by, it’s unlikely the silence will last much longer.
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