Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Celebrity Cookies? It Made A Million Dollars For This Person.

Chuck DiRocco Story

When former investment analyst Chuck DiRocco noticed that cookies were missing from the wide variety of snacks sold in video stores and at theater concessions, he started searching for a way to link cookies to Hollywood. Then the idea hit him: Create cookies in the form of popular movie stars, such as Renйe Zellweger and Jack Nicholson. One cup of flour, two cups of sugar and three eggs later, the first cast of LikeUms was formed.

DiRocco, 33, spent months surveying moviegoers, analyzing feedback and researching the industry to find out which stars were most popular. Although theater and video chains were initially reluctant to carry his product, he continued to send samples and mass mailings to them in hopes of making his new cookies more recognizable. Before long, in July 2004, DiRocco landed a deal with Regal Entertainment Group, the world's largest motion picture exhibitor, to release LikeUms in select theaters.

As DiRocco continued to market aggressively nationwide, he managed to get LikeUms on the shelves of convenience stores and in amusement parks and gift baskets, pushing sales to more than $400,000 in the first year. Realizing the cookie characters had potential in other venues besides theaters, DiRocco began marketing them to international exporters, school fund-raisers, charity events and corporate offices. Some NBA teams have even sought to create a version of LikeUms to help market their athletes and sporting events.

With sales of more than $1 million in 2005, you can bet DiRocco is enjoying the sweet taste of success. Coming attractions: He plans to expand the line to include more celebrities, including pop singers, radio personalities and entertainers.

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