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1076 Celebrity Product Lines

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,076 – Celebrity Product Lines.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,076. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit our website at ESLPod.com. Download a Learning Guide for this episode that contains all of the vocabulary words and definitions we use on this episode, as well as a complete transcript.

This episode is a dialogue between Nick and Jessica about selling things using the name of a famous person. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Nick: The possibilities are endless! You have to take advantage of being at the height of your career.

Jessica: I don’t know about lending my name to a celebrity product line. Wouldn’t people think I was selling out?

Nick: Of course not. Most celebrities do it nowadays. People expect you to leverage your fame into a successful business.

Jessica: But licensing my name to a lot of products that I would then have to promote isn’t exactly how I want to spend my time.

Nick: But think of the upside. You would be building a brand with longevity, hedging your bets for the future.

Jessica: You mean in the future when I’m no longer as famous or as popular.

Nick: No, of course that’s not what I mean. You’ll be a star forever. But don’t you want to get a piece of the pie while the getting is good?

Jessica: I don’t know. What kind of merchandise are we talking about?

Nick: We can start with a clothing line and then branch out into household products, luggage, and even weight-loss products.

Jessica: Weight-loss products?! What are you implying?

Nick: Nothing! I didn’t mean weight-loss products. I meant food – glamorous, beautiful food. See what I mean? The sky’s the limit!

[end of dialogue]

Nick begins our dialogue by saying to Jessica, “The possibilities are endless.” A “possibility” is something that could happen. When we say something is “endless” (endless), we mean that there is no maximum – it could be as many as possible. “The possibilities are endless,” then, means that there are many possibilities. Usually we’re talking about good things that could happen.

Nick says to Jessica, “You have to take advantage of being at the height of your career.” “To be at the height (height) of your career (career)” means that you are at the best moment or the most successful moment in your line of work, in what you do. Your “career” is your job. It’s the thing that you do to make money, usually. “To be at the height” of something means to be at the highest point – to be at a point where, in this case, you are the most successful. Perhaps you are making the most money that you will ever make, or you are more popular than you will ever be.

Jessica says, “I don’t know about lending my name to a celebrity product line.” “To lend” (lend) means to let someone use something for a period of time. Jessica is talking about “lending her name.” “To lend your name” means to let your name be associated with something else. In the United States, it’s popular for certain movie stars or music stars to lend their name to certain products, things that companies sell. Sometimes they actually sell the product using the name of the person.

So, for example, there might be a kind of perfume that is sold using the name of some famous actress or singer. “Perfume” (perfume) is liquid that you put on your body to make you smell nice. Usually we use the term “perfume” to refer to what a woman would put on her body. Jessica doesn’t know about – she’s not sure about – lending her name to a celebrity product line. A “celebrity” (celebrity) is a famous person. A famous actor, a famous singer, a famous podcaster – all of these could be celebrities, except that last example.

“Product” refers to something that you sell. A “product line” is a group of products, a group of related things that you would sell. So, a “celebrity product line” would be a group of things that are sold using the name of a famous person. Jessica says, “Wouldn’t people think I was selling out?” The phrasal verb “to sell out” has a couple of different meanings. Here it means to do something in order to make money, but to do something that somehow doesn’t match with your principles or your morals or your values or your identity, even.

So, for example, a popular singer writes a song. The song becomes a “hit,” meaning it becomes very successful, and then a few years later, the singer will sell this song, or the rights to use the song, to a company in order for the company to use that song in a commercial. Some people would say that the artist, the singer, has “sold out.” “He sold out,” meaning he’s decided that he was going to get money for what he wrote rather than keeping himself as a real artist.

I don’t know if this is really true – if you could consider someone selling their song to be “selling out” – but that’s the idea behind the phrasal verb “to sell out.” The other possibility or the other possible meaning of the verb “to sell out” would be for a store to sell all that it has of a certain product – to no longer have any available because they have all been sold.

Nick doesn’t think Jessica would be selling out. He says, “Most celebrities do it nowadays. People expect you to leverage your fame into a successful business.” “To leverage” (leverage) means to use something that you have now in order to get something better in the future. “To leverage your influence,” for example, would mean to use your influence in order to get a better situation, or perhaps to make more money. “Leveraging your celebrity” would be to use your fame, the fact that you are popular, in order to make even more money, or perhaps to become even more famous.

Jessica says, “But licensing my name to a lot of products that I would then have to promote isn’t exactly how I want to spend my time.” Jessica is saying that she doesn’t want to license her name to a lot of products. “To license” (license) means to allow or to let another company or another person use something that you have created. You might, for example, write a song, and then you let another person use that song in order to make money. You would “license” the song to that person, meaning that person has to give you some money for using your song.

Jessica doesn’t want to have to promote a lot of products. “To promote” here means to let people know about something – to go out and tell people, in this case, to buy these products. When a writer publishes a book, he or she often goes and promotes the book by going on television programs and radio interviews and that sort of thing.

Nick says, “But think of the upside.” The “upside” (upside) of something is the advantage of something, the good result or consequence that can happen if you do a certain thing. The upside of saving a lot of money now when you’re young is that when you are old, you will have money to live on. The “upside” is the advantage. The opposite of “upside” is, of course, “downside” (downside). The downside of something would be the disadvantage, the negative consequence of some action.

Nick says, “You would be building a brand with longevity, hedging your bets for the future.” A “brand” (brand) is a name or a symbol that is associated with a certain kind of product. You can think of, for example, the kind of toothpaste that you use in the morning to clean your mouth, to brush your teeth. The toothpaste is made by a certain company. The name would be the brand of that toothpaste. Often that same brand, that same name, will be used with the whole set of products, a “line” of products, we might call them.

“Longevity” (longevity) refers to how long something lasts; usually it refers to a long life or a long existence. Nick is talking about Jessica’s brand as having longevity. It will survive for many years. This will allow her “to hedge her bets.” “To hedge (hedge) your bets (bets)” means to reduce your risk, to protect yourself against bad things that might happen in the future. Nick is saying here that if Jessica gives her name to all of these different products, she would make a lot of money now, and then she wouldn’t perhaps have to worry about making money in the future.

Jessica says, “You mean in the future when I’m no longer as famous or as popular?” Nick says, “No, of course that’s not what I mean.” Jessica is concerned that sometime in the future, she won’t be popular. Nick doesn’t want her to think that – doesn’t want her to think that Nick believes that someday she won’t be popular. Of course, we all know that eventually celebrities lose their popularity, are no longer popular.

Nick says, “You’ll be a star forever,” meaning you will be famous forever. “But don’t you want to get a piece of the pie while the getting is good?” There are two expressions here. The first one is “a piece of the pie” or “to get a piece of the pie” (pie). “To get a piece of the pie” here refers to get part of something, to obtain a part of something, often some amount of money. And that’s what Nick is talking about here. A “pie” is normally a dessert that you eat, but here it’s referring simply to getting some money that is available to be got.

The second expression is “while the getting is good.” “While the getting (getting) is good” means to get something before it disappears – to get something while there is still an opportunity to get it. Jessica says, “I don’t know. What kind of merchandise are we talking about?” “Merchandise” (merchandise) are products, things that you can buy, things that are sold by companies. “Merchandise” usually refers to physical products. Jessica wants to know what kind of merchandise Nick is talking about.

Nick says “We can start with a clothing line, and then branch out into household products, luggage, and even weight-loss products.” A “clothing line” would be clothes that are sold under a particular name – shirts, pants, dresses, that sort of thing. The phrasal verb “to branch (branch) out” means to go into a different area, a different kind of, in this case, product from the one that you started with. A celebrity might start with selling shirts that have his name on it, and then he could branch out and sell pants and shoes and socks and other types of clothing. That would be “branching out.”

Nick is suggesting that Jessica can branch out into all sorts of things after she starts selling clothing. One of the things you can start selling in the future is “weight-loss” products. “Weight loss” refers to becoming thinner, losing some of the weight that you have, not being as fat as you are now. I mean, I’m not saying you’re fat – you, who are listening to this episode – but you know, people in general. Americans have this problem. Jessica says, “What are you implying?” She thinks that Nick is calling her fat, and of course, you never want to call a woman fat.

Nick says, “I’m not implying anything,” meaning I’m not saying that you are overweight. “I didn’t mean weight-loss products. I mean” – and then he changes his idea – “food – glamorous, beautiful food. See what I mean?” – meaning “Do you understand me?” – “The sky’s the limit!” The expression “the sky’s (sky’s) the limit” means that there are many, many possibilities – many things that you can do. There are no limits. There are no restrictions. You have a lot of choices, usually good choices.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Nick: The possibilities are endless! You have to take advantage of being at the height of your career.

Jessica: I don’t know about lending my name to a celebrity product line. Wouldn’t people think I was selling out?

Nick: Of course not. Most celebrities do it nowadays. People expect you to leverage your fame into a successful business.

Jessica: But licensing my name to a lot of products that I would then have to promote isn’t exactly how I want to spend my time.

Nick: But think of the upside. You would be building a brand with longevity, hedging your bets for the future.

Jessica: You mean in the future when I’m no longer as famous or as popular.

Nick: No, of course that’s not what I mean. You’ll be a star forever. But don’t you want to get a piece of the pie while the getting is good?

Jessica: I don’t know. What kind of merchandise are we talking about?

Nick: We can start with a clothing line and then branch out into household products, luggage, and even weight-loss products.

Jessica: Weight-loss products?! What are you implying?

Nick: Nothing! I didn’t mean weight-loss products. I meant food – glamorous, beautiful food. See what I mean? The sky’s the limit!

[end of dialogue]

How good can you English be if you continue listening to ESL Podcast? Well, the sky’s the limit. There are many, many possibilities if you continue listening to the wonderful scripts by our wonderful scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2015 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
the possibilities are endless – there are many possibilities; anything could happen; many good things could result; many favorable outcomes are possible

* Once we secure our startup funding, the possibilities are endless!

at the height of (one’s) career – at the best moment of one’s professional efforts and accomplishments; when one is doing one’s best professionally

* Will you have children now when you’re at the height of your career?

to lend (one’s) name – to allow one’s name to be used for something, especially to promote something or to show approval of something

* Do you think any celebrities would consider lending their name to support our education campaign efforts?

celebrity product line – a group of products that are closely associated with the name and image of a famous person who receives income from the arrangement

* Many of the most popular perfumes are part of a celebrity product line.

to sell out – to do something that does not match with one’s values, morals, or principles in order to make money

* Arwa always said that she disliked oil companies, so we were surprised when she sold out and agreed to be an attorney for one of the biggest oil companies.

to leverage – to use something as much as possible, especially in a way that producers better results or makes something else possible

* We’ll leverage our employees’ foreign language skills to find international expansion opportunities.

to license – to allow a person or company to use something that belongs to another person, usually in exchange for a payment

* Did the company license the character’s image for use on lunchboxes and school supplies, or only on clothing?

to promote – to raise awareness of something, especially to encourage people to buy it; to advertise

* How can we use social media to promote cancer screenings?

upside – advantage; the good consequences that may or will arise from doing something

* The upside of saving a lot of money now is that we’ll have a lot more money in retirement.

brand – the name and logo associated with a certain product or type of products made and packaged by a single company

* Which brand of toothpaste do you prefer?

longevity – a measure of how long something lasts; long life; a long existence

* Eating well, getting exercise, and having good friends are some of the factors contributing to longevity.

to hedge (one’s) bets – to reduce one’s risks and protect oneself from the consequences of making the wrong choice or a poor decision

* The stock market usually produces good returns, but we’re hedging our bets by also investing in real estate, precious metals, and art.

to get a piece of the pie – to obtain part of something; to have a portion of or share in something

* Clark funded only 20% of the startup costs, but now he’s arguing that he should get a bigger piece of the pie when we sell the company because it was originally his idea.


while the getting is good – to get or obtain something while it is still available, before it disappears or it taken by other people

* If we arrive too late, all the good seats will be taken. Let’s save our spots while the getting is good!

merchandise – products that are available for purchase; goods that are being sold

* Most of our merchandise is being sold at a 20% discount today.

clothing line – clothes sold under a particular brand; the clothes sold by one company

* The company has three clothing lines: one for teenage girls, one for young professionals, and one for older women.

to branch out – to expand into another area or field that is less familiar

* We used to specialize in kitchen appliances, but now we’re branching out into other kinds of consumer electronics.

the sky’s the limit – a phrase meaning that there are many possibilities, and there are no limitations or restrictions on the available options; there are many choices

* If you can imagine it, our talented engineers and designers can create it. The sky’s the limit!

Comprehension Questions
1. What does Jessica mean when she says, “Wouldn’t people think I was selling out?”
a) She’s worried people will think she’s doing something that doesn’t match with her values and beliefs.
b) She’s worried that people will think she is ending her career as a performer.
c) She’s worried that people will think her products are too expensive.

2. Why does Nick refer to “a piece of the pie”?
a) Because he thinks Jessica should start selling baked goods.
b) Because he thinks Jessica should have some of the money.
c) Because he thinks Jessica needs to eat more desserts.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to lend (one’s) name

The phrase “to lend (one’s) name,” in this podcast, means to allow one’s name to be used for something, especially to promote something or to show approval of something: “I lent my name to this fundraising event, but it’s turning out to be a disaster!” The phrase “to lend an ear” means to listen to someone sympathetically: “Thanks for lending an ear and letting me talk about my problems for a while.” The phrase “to lend (one’s) support” means to support or help someone or something: “The teachers have lent their support to efforts to start a music program.” Finally, the parse “to lend (someone) a hand” means to help someone, especially with a physical activity: “Could you please lend me a hand with these heavy boxes?”

upside

In this podcast, the word “upside” means an advantage, or the good consequences that may or will arise from doing something: “Sure, the rain is unpleasant, but the upside is that the crops will grow really well.” A “downside” is a disadvantage or the negative consequences of something: “Winning that trip to Florida was great, but the downside was that the dates were in the middle of hurricane season.” The phrase “upside the head” describes the side of someone’s head: “Be careful! You almost hit Jake upside the head with that long board!” Finally, the phrase “upside down” means with the top part at the bottom and the bottom part at the top: “Did you know that modern painting is hanging upside down?”

Culture Note
Celebrity Product Lines

Many celebrity product lines are “a match made in heaven” (two things that are very well suited for each other. The most successful celebrity product lines usually “capitalize on” (take advantage of) a “link” (connection) between the celebrity’s “talent” (what one does very well) and the product. People who “admire” (like something or someone very much) the celebrities are “drawn” (attracted) to the products that feature those celebrities’ names and images, and become more likely to buy those products. “Subconsciously” (without being aware of something), they may hope that buying and using those products makes them similar to the celebrities whom they admire so much.

For example, soccer “pro” (a professional athlete) David Beckham has a celebrity line of “body wear” (underclothes; clothing that is normally worn underneath other clothes) at H&M retail stores, called “David Beckham Bodywear.” He also has his own line of perfumes and other “personal care” (related to health and appearance) products.

Singer and actress Jennifer Lopez also has her own line of clothing and perfume, as well as a restaurant and her own company for television productions. Talk show host and actress Oprah Winfrey has her own magazine, as does entrepreneur and expert “hostess” (related to welcoming guests in one’s home) Martha Stewart, who also has an “extensive” line of “house wares” (products used in the home), office organizational supplies, materials for “arts and crafts” (artistic items made by hand), and more.

Comprehension Answers
1 - a

2 - b