In Which I Inquire With Madonna’s Office About A Pig

Winston + Madonna 2014-08-16 12.25

In the middle of last decade, when I was the VP of Licensing at Warner Music, we received a request from a toy manufacturer. They created a plush toy in which they wished to include a music chip. The plush was a pig meant to look like Madonna, circa Truth or Dare. The pig had a blond ponytail and wore a headset and a pointy bra. They wanted it to play “Like a Virgin.”

I knew Madonna wouldn’t be into this. “They made a pig that looks like you! Cool, huh?” However, I had to run it by her. At that time, Madonna was fighting with Warner. This isn’t a secret I’m revealing; it was public knowledge. I didn’t want to give her something else to complain about. “They don’t present me with all the business opportunities that come for me.”

The trick was, how do I present this license request to Madonna’s office without looking like an idiot? “Why would you send this to us? What makes you think for a second we would consider this? Moron!” Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

I figured out it’s all in the wording. I emailed Madonna’s manager. “I received a request that I doubt you will want to approve, but I want to be sure you are aware of it. It’s a plush pig designed to look like Madonna. It plays ‘Like a Virgin.’” To my surprise, instead of saying no outright, Madonna’s manager asked to see a prototype of the toy. The toy company made one prototype, which they sent to me. I didn’t want to part with it, as I was sure Madonna’s office would eventually say no to their request and then I would own the only Madonna “Like a Virgin” pig. I asked Madonna’s manager if I can swing by her office with the pig to show her. “No, but you can send it to me.”

I knew I’d never see the pig again. As expected, Madonna’s office turned down the license request. On the plus side, they were appreciative that I looped them in. It’s nice to be respected by Madonna’s team, but I really wanted that Madonna “Like a Virgin” plush pig.

Today, Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone Penn Ritchie turns 56 years old. Here are twenty of my favorite Madonna tracks.

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