Pan Am going the distance

Los Angeles Times

Merchandising for one of the fall TV schedule’s most fashion-focused new shows — ABC’s “Pan Am” — is already in the bag.

The retro-stylish logo bags have been given away at Comic-Con, floated to fans on the Internet, displayed in bus shelter ads and looped over the lithe arms of the “Pan Am” flight attendants in promotional posters.

Even though the show doesn’t make its inaugural flight until Sept. 25, handbags and accessories bearing the name and logo of the world’s most famous defunct airline are easy to come by. Many of the products are made by the same company that created the bags for the new series.

Dover, N.H.-based Pan Am Brands owns the rights to the Pan American World Airways name and logos (bought at a bankruptcy auction in 1998), which it licenses for a variety of uses, including the upcoming show.


In 2007, it launched Pan Am Originals, a retro-flavored collection inspired by the airline’s original take-away blue-and-white cabin bags. The line includes messenger bags, weekend trolleys, totes, wash bags and round hat bags that sell for $49 to $300. Additional product categories, such as watches and cuff links made from pieces salvaged from an old Pan Am Boeing 707, are licensed to other companies.

For the last several years, Stacy Beck, director of marketing and corporate development for Pan Am Brands, has been the gatekeeper of Pan Am in popular culture, the one responsible for signing off on requests to use the airline’s name, logo or likeness. Past deals include the 2002 movie “Catch Me if You Can” and a line of limited-edition Marc Jacobs bags in 2007 that emblazoned the fashion designer’s signature across the back of blue-and-white Pan Am bags.

But none of these efforts has been as high-profile as the upcoming TV show — or taken as long to come to fruition, Beck says.

“The negotiations were about a three-year process,” she said. “We needed to make sure that they had the same vision and passion for the brand that we did,” Beck said.

That shared vision includes tapping into Pan Am Brands for promotional events, prop purposes and, once the show starts, merchandising.

“We’ll be carrying their products on our site,” said Gregory Economos, senior vice president of Global Consumer Products for Sony Pictures Entertainment. “They’ve got all these really great iconic bags, passport holders and things like that. And we’ll probably add some elements that specifically involve aspects of the TV show.”

Economos said that the deal also gives Sony Pictures Television, which produces “Pan Am,” the right to create show-branded merchandise. Categories in discussion include health and beauty, home décor and fashion.

Although Economos wouldn’t offer specifics, if “Pan Am” takes flight with TV viewers, expect the sexy stewardess costume — officially licensed or not — to be all the rage this Halloween.