This ad will be closed automatically in X seconds.

The Licensing Lookout

Start Licensing’s Ian Downes looks at licences popping up in different retail channels.

An ongoing concern in licensing is getting product onto shelf at retail – many licensing programmes flounder because they aren’t getting ‘traction’ at retail. Licensors, licensees and agents seem to be working harder and harder to break through at retail.

It is with this challenge in mind that it is always refreshing to see licensed products popping up in different retail channels and reaching the market in new ways.


This week at Waterloo there was a dramatic installation on the station concourse promoting the release of the film Fast and Furious 8. A car prop was used to promote the film and to provide a social media friendly photo opportunity. This was linked to large scale advertising billboards. A great piece of film promotion – following on the heels of similar activity at the station around Ghostbusters.

The icing on the retail cake with this activity, and as in the Ghostbusters case, there is a pop up shop on Waterloo selling a focused range of Fast and Furious 8 merchandise. This enterprising move is a good model for licensing to look at – developing selling opportunities linked to events and promotions that are created with a 360 degree approach.

Related to this is that companies such as CID, Pyramid and GB eye are looking at new channels to sell their film-related merchandise including installing FSDUs in cinema foyers. I noticed that CID has a FSDU of Guardians of the Galaxy t-shirts in the VUE Cinema in Westfield. A challenge here is encouraging people to actually buy product on a cinema trip. It is not something consumers are used to doing.


In this particular case CID has tried to make it a little easier and more attractive by putting the t-shirts into neat and portable packaging. A pack format that consumers may feel more comfortable buying at a cinema, particularly before watching the film.

There are two interesting points to note here – it is good to see licensees seeking out new distribution opportunities and secondly, good to see them thinking about the product delivery and packaging.


I also saw some Star Wars Rogue One 3D glasses on sale via a vending machine. Standard 3D glasses had been adapted to be on brand and were keenly priced at £2. A further example of the incredible reach of Star Wars and Disney – just when you think there are no stones left to turnover I spot another ‘new’ product and application. Also a very good use of the IP – applying it to a product in a fun way that fits well into the cinema going experience and reasonably priced.

I also popped into the British Library Shop this week – it is a really good ‘museum’ gift shop and blends ranges based on the Library Collection with other bought in product some of which is licensed. As you might expect, the product selection is biased towards book-based characters and properties. On this visit I spotted a well presented range of Roald Dahl product and some Wild & Wolf lines featuring The Gruffalo.

Both the Dahl and Gruffalo ranges use illustrations well on packaging and really tie in well to the books, making it easier for retail buyers to select product and range it together. In locations such as museum and gallery shops, display is really important and I suspect ranges that fit together well are given priority. Increasingly, licensees need to think about the different types of retailers that they might have to engage with and provide different product opportunities for them – maybe adjusting pack and pricing formats.


The BFI is also another example of a well presented gift shop and it seems to be well coordinated with the wider activities in the BFI. It currently has Haynes’ Wallace & Gromit Cracking Contraptions Manual on display – the trigger for it stocking this product is that there are some Aardman workshops for children on at the moment at the BFI.

This may seem obvious, but sometimes ‘micro’ retailing opportunities like this are missed and it is good to see a coordinated approach like the BFI example – cause and effect. There will be visitors who are fans of the brand – it makes sense to give them the chance to buy a product they might like. It also helps when the product is a good one – as is the case with Wallace & Gromit’s Haynes Manual – a great ‘collab’ making the most of both companies strengths.

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.

Get the latest news sent to your inbox
Subscribe to our daily newsletter