Changemakers: The Backstreet Boys’ AJ McLean

Promoting his show “Fashion Hero,” AJ McLean of The Backstreet Boys plans to change how the world sees beauty. In this exclusive interview, he discusses how with License Global.

McKenna Morgan, Content Editor

May 31, 2024

4 Min Read
AJ McLean, The Backstreet Boys
AJ McLean, The Backstreet BoysLicense Global

To celebrate the initiatives and individuals behind change, License Global explores how the licensing industry is making an impact on sustainability and diversity and inclusion through a monthly insight column called “Changemakers.”

At Licensing Expo 2024, License Global had the chance to chat with AJ McLean, best known for being a founding member of boyband, The Backstreet Boys. McLean was walking the show floor promoting his TV show, “Fashion Hero.” He’s a partner for the company that creates the show and serves as host and executive producer. The next few seasons are already planned, with Season 2 set in South Africa, Season 3 in Croatia, Season 4 in Dubai and Season 5 in Panama City.

The show focuses on highlighting diverse populations and how the fashion industry can better use what he calls “every kind of beautiful” in advertising, marketing, promoting and licensing. His objective at Licensing Expo was two-fold: find brands willing to be on the show as judges and promotional partners and find brands that may be willing to get into licensing with the brand.

License Global: What brings you to Licensing Expo this year?

AJ McLean: I’m here to meet and share with all of the brands that we feel are a good fit for the show. It could be brands from toys to clothing to jewelry. It doesn’t have to only be fashion. These different brands will be mentors/judges on the show, and our four winners will be brand ambassadors for that brand.

Related:The Changemakers: The Natural History Museum

Tell us about “Fashion Hero.” How does the show work?

Four brands work as mentors and judges, looking to find the new face of their brand. There are 22 contestants on the show and four winners, one for each brand. For example, if it’s a fragrance company, out of the 22 contestants on the show, they’re looking for who has the passion, the want, the need and the desire to be the face of that brand. Not only do our contestants get to be that, but I do as well, talking about and promoting those brands on the show and outside of the show. Within the confines of our website and social media, we have content that we can repurpose for these brands, to all our combined followers. I call it a vicious cycle of happiness and positivity, with all of us working together. An un-vicious cycle.

Through the competition, you hope to diversify the kind of people promoting a brand, with contestants of multiple ages, body types and backgrounds. Tell me more about that mission.

You don’t have to be a supermodel to be the face of BMW. You don’t have to be a guy with six-pack abs to represent PacSun. You can be the everyday, average person because we’re all beautiful, no matter what. I have two daughters; they’re not on social media. The perception of what beauty is, is kind of gross. We’re promoting that beauty comes from within, no matter how old you are. We have contestants who are 20 and 65, from all walks of life. I’m very passionate about this show because of what it represents. We live in a world now where mental health is actually being spoken about, and we’re breaking the stigma about what the beauty world is and what people think it has to be.

As for licensing and merchandising, what’s possible for the brand and what are you looking to do?

We are possibly looking to do stuff within the “Fashion Hero” brand, as well as merging and partnering with some of these other brands that are part of the show. These four brands are at the epicenter of the show. They are part of the competition level of the show. Each episode is about 45 minutes long, but for around 40 of them, you’re going to be seeing those brands intertwined within the competitions, with the judges and me. The brands are constantly being put in your face. It’s a great thing for the brands as well as for our contestants. If you want to be attached to something that is spreading positivity, healthy body image, healthy lifestyle, self-care and self-esteem, join our show and be a part of a movement that is needed in the world of TV. This is something that we need more of.

About the Author(s)

McKenna Morgan

Content Editor, License Global

McKenna Morgan is Content Editor for License Global. Based in the Santa Monica office, McKenna specializes in coverage involving non-profits, beauty and cosmetics, health and wellness, new and social media and entertainment licensing.

When McKenna isn’t covering the latest licensing news, she spends her time attending live music shows and finding her next travel destination.

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