Christina, Chris, their three kids and their three cats lived in relative anonymity until this August, when a friend of a friend who'd seen Venus's picture shared it on Reddit.com. When she saw that the post had gotten a million views in less than 24 hours, Christina said, "Oh my God, Venus has gone viral. Maybe I should go ahead and make her a Facebook page ... let everyone share her beauty."
Soon, Venus's Page -- Amazing Chimera Cat, "started getting likes like crazy," Christina reports. People couldn't believe the cat was real. Some speculated that Venus's owners had dyed her face the captivating colors, or Photoshopped the pictures. To blunt criticism from the skeptics and prove she was real, Christina says, "I put up as many pics as I could of her. I made a video of her on You Tube."
Within a week or two, "I had gotten tons of media requests from newspapers, news stations, Good Morning America, to make appearances," Christina recounts. The couple retained a public relations firm to deal with the craziness. "We went on the Today Show August 29 and then we did a local news interview in September." Venus's fan base swelled.
Looking into the matter, they found that Boo did indeed have a deal for stuffed animals to be made in his likeness with the stuffed animal company Gund. Venus's team reached out, and by October, Venus had a deal, too.
Christina says she's not at liberty to discuss details. "There's going to be stuffed animals made. From what I heard, at least two different ones. We'll get licensing royalties." She doesn't know how many will be produced nor where they will be sold. "We could get $5,000 or $100,000, I really don't know." Christina added that "for each Venus item sold, there will be a donation made to animals in need."
Donna Balancia, who negotiated the deal, said that the contract is for two years and confirmed that it's not yet known how many units will be produced, but that Christina will get a portion of the proceeds from each unit. Balancia believes that interest in LOLcats on the internet won't go away any time soon -- looking at them is "a release from all the burdens people are carrying -- high unemployment, the stuff we suffered with schools" -- but it's yet to be seen to what degree internet popularity will translate to actual sales. She noted that Venus had 88,000 "likes" on Facebook. How many might express interest in a Venus toy? Ten percent? And how many of those would actually buy one? "Can you do the math off that Facebook page?," she asks. "I don't know."
The cat, now three years old and five and a half pounds, doesn't have a movie agent yet and "she's rather shy, she doesn't do tricks."
But the kids "are absolutely tickled to death their cat is famous."
Balancia says that since working Venus's deal, other people tell her, "This is an inspiration. I want to get my cats famous. How can I do that?" It's new territory in the business world. "I promote people, places, make deals for human beings, generally speaking. Getting the paw print on the contract was the most important thing."
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