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The Licensing Lookout: The power of a classic

Start Licensing’s Ian Downes talks Easter promos and making the most of social media.

In the week that Video Assistant Referee technology was launched in the world of football I have to confess that I have cheated in my Lookout duties. I have spotted something while sitting at my desk reading The Grocer!

The Grocer previewed Easter products this week and one of the star attractions was a range of Peter Rabbit Easter Eggs from Cadbury (Mondelez).

The range features promotional packs of leading Cadbury brands like Creme Egg and Buttons, showcasing a family holiday promotion with the opportunity to win a holiday to the Home of Peter Rabbit. I assume this is the Lake District and not a fortnight in a Rabbit warren!


The range also includes a couple of special edition Dairy Milk products that include plush toys co-packed with the Easter Eggs. The trade ad for the range proclaims this activity is “… bringing two icons together…”

It is, indeed, a powerful partnership and a vote of confidence in the Peter Rabbit film from a top FMCG brand. Combining a toy and a Easter Egg is a strong combination – Mondelez’s brand manager was quoted in The Grocer as saying that toys are the third biggest gift category at Easter after chocolate and flowers.


I did leave my desk this week and spotted some classic Peter Rabbit products such as wooden toys and musical instruments from licensees such as Orange Tree Toys in the gift shop at heritage site Painshill Park.

This was a reminder of Peter Rabbit’s classic status and the growing opportunity that exists for licensing in the heritage sector. Brands such as Peter Rabbit have instant recognition and a premium feel to them. Combined with their cross generational appeal this makes them ideal for gifting in heritage locations.

Licensing provides retailers of this kind with an instant range associated with a trustworthy brand. While servicing this sector can be labour intensive the higher margins available and longevity of the distribution platform should make it a fruitful sector for licensees.


I noticed that Superdrug was carrying a broad range of personal care, accessories and toiletries using the Zoella brand. Zoella is a great example of a new type of licensing opportunity – personality licensing sourced from the online and digital worlds. Here the push comes from fans who have supported and followed Zoella.

In many ways opportunities like this are below the licensing trade radar, but have a lot of merit because of the fan base associated with Zoella and I guess the promotional potential that it could bring. It is a sector that will probably grow in importance in terms of the sourcing of licences.

One disappointing aspect of this activity was that a fabulous range based on a very commercial brand was undersold at retail. There was no use of Zoella at point of purchase, no shelf strips or other visual cues in the branch I visited. This seemed to be a lost opportunity and not making the most of the brand.

In a retailer like Superdrug some in-store activity would create consumer interest, not least if it was weighted toward social media and sharing. One idea would be a selfie opportunity with a Zoella photograph.


Finally, it was a bumper week for characters in the world of street art. Waterloo’s Leake Street yielded street art versions of Yogi Bear, Garfield and Mickey Mouse.

The street artists’ versions of these characters brought a fresh take on classic brands and confirms that old school characters still have pop culture appeal and resonate with the street art community. And I bet they have been widely shared on social media!

Ian Downes runs Start Licensing, an independent brand licensing agency. His Twitter handle is @startlicensing – he would welcome your suggestions for what to look out for.

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