Susan Lucci, who many of her fans know as the strong-willed Erica Kane for 41 years on ABC's "All My Children" (and for which she finally won an Emmy in 1999 after 18 failed nominations). More recently, her popularity has come from role on another network -- the Home Shopping Network.
"The most important thing to realize is that over 40-plus years of being on All My Children Susan Lucci built a brand," said Dan J. Kroll, founder of soapcentral.com , the leading online resource for soap opera news and information. "From day one she was the everywoman character, the one everyone could identify with."
And not only has that "every-woman" identified with Lucci but bought from her. Lucci has had huge success on HSN -- where she sells her Youthful Essence beauty products, Invitation by Susan Lucci perfume, and the Susan Lucci Collection of clothing and accessories -- including a record appearance in 2005 in which she sold 60,000 pieces of lingerie in less than 20 hours. She also sells her products via infomercials and in Wal-Mart stores.
"There are women all over the world who want to know what she does and what her routine is, and how that can be attainable for them at a lower price point," Kroll said.
Now 65, Lucci has particularly strong brand awareness with the 55-plus crowd, a demographic that has traditionally been more difficult to target. These fans have grown along with her from the early years of the show, and many identify with everything she's gone through on and off the camera, even after the network canceled the 11,000 episode show last year.
"Soaps might go away - but when you've had a run for 40+ years your audience doesn't go away overnight," said David Schwab, celebrity endorsement expert at Octagon Entertainment. "Lucci is in a great position from a marketing perspective for the remainder of her professional career," he said.
According to Schwab, Lucci's future endorsement deals could include six-figure annual contracts for pharmaceutical work, life insurance commercials, or working with AARP-type advertisers.
"Nothing Lucci has done has detracted from that 'girl next door' image," Kroll said. "It's like 'McDonald's,' 'Coca-Cola,' 'Susan Lucci' - she's an American brand, an American icon. You can argue whether or not she's still as powerful as when All My Children was at its peak, but obviously she's still relevant."
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