OAKWOOD, Ohio -- Want a Wright Brothers-brand bomber jacket or aviator sunglasses? They might soon be available to buy, as the aviation pioneers' descendants try to generate revenue to keep up the mansion where Orville Wright lived for decades.
The Dayton Daily News reports that branded possibilities under potential consumer goods licensing deals could include high-end clothing and accessories, aviation chronographs, watches and more.
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"I think some of things we're looking at are really classy," said Amanda Wright Lane, a great grandniece of Orville and Wilbur Wright. She said licensing their name for consumer goods will help maintain the 6,000-square-foot home and 3.4 acres. The Hawthorn Hill mansion is part of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, and is in the Dayton suburb of Oakwood.
The family has had earlier deals with media companies to raise funds to support aviation heritage causes and the Wright State University.
Dayton-based Visual Marketing Associates is working on licensing agreements with a goal of merchandising the Wright Brothers brand for a continuing revenue stream for the family. Kenneth Botts of the company said they will be careful to "guard" the brand. For example, a beer deal would be unlikely because the brothers didn't drink.
One of the first agreements was with Revell Inc., a longtime maker of plastic modeling kits. No other details were released on deals in the works, but the company said there is interest in licensing from Chinese manufacturers, too.
"There are celebrities that are licensed all the time on products," Botts said. "They could print on bed linens. It could be a manufacturer who wants to market bicycle parts. It could be Wright Brothers bicycle parts."
Tracy Kizer, a University of Dayton marketing professor, said marketers will need to wary of flooding the public with branded items that could cheapen the brand image.
"The Wright Brothers hold a very special place in the hearts of many Americans -- and probably many people worldwide -- and they're not really associated with consumer goods right now," Kizer said.
The brothers had a printing business and bicycle shops in Dayton, where they worked on aviation innovations that led to their historic airplane flights in 1903 at Kitty Hawk. N.C.