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The Naked Franchisee?

And now for a lighter franchise-themed story.

As a blogger on franchising and small business issues, it can be difficult at times to gauge how much the principles of franchising have seeped into society-at-large. As a story from Times Square illustrates, quite deeply, in fact.

Most people in the country know the Naked Cowboy at this stage. Robert Burck, the muscled, acoustic-guitar playing, underwear-wearing musician is a fixture of Times Square, having appeared in countless ads, music videos and TV shows over the last few years. Perhaps it was not totally shocking when the Naked Cowgirl - Sandra Brodsky, aka Sandy Kane – arrived on the scene, but it was surprising to hear that a dispute between the two tied back to franchising.

An angry Burck, who believes Brodsky has essentially ripped of his entire act, has sent a cease and desist letter to the Naked Cowgirl. It turns out the Naked Cowboy was shrewd enough to copyright his image a few years ago. He has no problem with people imitating him, as long as they pay him a Naked Cowboy franchisee fee of $5,000 a year or $500 a month

It’s one of the most fascinating uses of franchising I’ve ever come across. Essentially, Burck has franchised his image and the story says he has one other licensed franchisee, a Naked Cowgirl named Louisa Holmlund

Brodsky denies that she has stolen the Naked Cowboy’s image and the whole affair seems destined for a New York City courtroom. It’ll be fascinating to see how this turns out. And if you’re interested in bringing a public, semi-nude guitar playing performer to your town or city, you should contact the Naked Cowboy about some exciting franchise opportunities.

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