Pennacchio says he expects to expand distribution beyond the national market into international markets such as Korea, Germany and Brazil, where Britto has a following.
Shriver expects to see even more partnerships like the one with Dorel. She says Britto has only been licensing products for four years and it is still a small part of overall revenue, as his works of art are sold in more than 100 galleries worldwide. Still, revenue from licensing deals rose 26 percent last year and she expects it to rise another 10 percent or more this year. While that business segment represents the fastest-growing piece of the Britto empire, Shriver says the other divisions have seen improvement every year, too. Even during the recession, its been modest, but its growth.
The challenge now, says branding guru Daniel Rosentreter, is to avert diluting the brand. The more you create broad appeal, the more you run the risk of undermining brand equity. Its hard to know where that balance is, but with art you have to be extra careful because people like mystique. Thats what art is all about, says Rosentreter, chief strategy officer with FutureBrand North America.
Meanwhile, critics and influential collectors have scoffed at Britto, claiming he is not a serious artist. Britto even has had to contend with angry graffiti on a publicly displayed sculpture and mural in Miami. But other wealthy supporters in equal numbers have continued to buy his work and give him commissions. Miami art collector Marty Margulies says, There are collectors who think his art is too simple. His talent tends to be graphic design and color. But people buy him and those people must appreciate him. His work is popular.
Indeed, his work has been exhibited in galleries and museums in more than 100 countries, including the Salon Nationale des Beaux-Arts exhibition at the Carrousel du Louvre in 2008 and 2010. He has also created public art installations for impressive venues such as the O2 Dome (Berlin), Hyde Park (London), John F. Kennedy Airport (New York), The Time Warner Center (New York) and Cirque du Soleil at Super Bowl XLI. The NFL asked me to create something unique for the opening of the Super Bowl, he explains. It was good because it was the first time an installation was seen by so many people at the same time ever.
While he might consider himself an artist for the masses, Britto the businessman still panders to the art collector looking for original paintings or limited editions. If a collector calls from places such as Argentina, Italy or Germany and says hes coming into town, particularly one willing to spend six figures on a painting, we stop what were doing and all the attention is on them, Shriver says.
Some will argue the charm of Britto is his personality as much as his cheery compositions. Hes been able to market his likeability, more typical of an actor or athlete than an artist. When you meet the man, you understand where his work comes from, Shriver says.
Part of his success is that hes such a nice guy. People like him, says longtime Miami Beach developer Craig Robbins of DACRA He does an extraordinary job at marketing himself, positioning himself, getting people interested in what hes doing and producing an marketable form of creativity that people really like.