Having rebranded its lifestyle division to ASPIRE by WildBrain CPLG earlier this year to further underline its integral importance to the business, the agency has bold plans for even more growth. LicensingSource catches up with commercial director, Victoria Whellans.
“It’s a hugely exciting time for WildBrain CPLG and ASPIRE,” begins Victoria Whellans, commercial director of the newly named lifestyle division of the agency.
First created two years ago when the agency recognised the need to have a dedicated team that was focused on maximising the revenue of its growing corporate and lifestyle portfolio, the division has become an integral pillar in the business, with over 15 brands in the roster.
“The rebrand of the division further reflects our commitment to supporting our corporate and lifestyle partners and makes a clear distinction between brands that fall under ASPIRE, and those that sit within the entertainment or sport sectors,” explains Victoria. “ASPIRE is aspirational in name and expresses our desire, ambitions and commitment to developing this part of our business to generate long-term revenue. The ASPIRE portfolio is wide-ranging, but we have clear objectives in place for each brand and will be focused on developing tailored and aspirational licensing programmes.
“This is just the start of our plans for ASPIRE. We’re in discussions with several potential new partners and have meaningful plans for ASPIRE to contribute a significant part of the agency’s revenue over the next three to five years.”
The division is currently a tight-knit team of four – Victoria and senior sales manager, Jennifer Gould, plus a new senior sales manager and partnerships manager. “We’ll also be utilising our sales teams on the ground across the world to secure local licensing and retail opportunities,” Victoria adds. “I’m also working closely with Jasen Wright, our vp of North America, as a key priority is to grow our portfolio of corporate and lifestyle brands and programmes within the North American market.”
Corporate and lifestyle licensing has certainly grown in importance and stature over the past few years across the industry, and Victoria believes that it provides meaningful opportunities for even further growth.
“If you can get it right, the licensing of these brands is a great way to bring long-term sustainable revenue, without the unpredictable elements that may come from entertainment brands that are focused around tentpole moments,” she says. “More companies in the corporate and lifestyle space are open to licensing than ever before, to increase their product range, add value, open new channels and connect with new audiences in a way that is relatively low risk.
“There’s been huge growth over the last few years in many categories including art, fashion, celebrities and institutions. We’re seeing tremendous demand and growth for collegiate brands. Many FMCG companies are also now looking at how they can licence their IP to support their core business and drive further growth and brand engagement.”
As ASPIRE is at the start of its licensing journey for a number of new brands, Victoria explains that the remainder of 2022 will be focused on signing core categories for these properties. “I’m also keen to have a full international team in place who are working closely with our partners to build brand extensions programmes with long-term revenue potential. It’s an exciting time for the portfolio as many of these brands are just at the beginning of their licensing journey, but by the end of 2022, we’ll have core categories in place to build the foundations of our licensing programmes.”
Victoria concludes: “We’re a unique agency in terms of our global reach and creative resources, which gives us a strong advantage to build impactful, strategic and successful programmes.”
ASPIRE’s portfolio spans numerous industries – FMCG, institutions, art, hardware and fashion.
It has recently welcomed US home security brand, The Master Lock Company, as well as Sauber Motorsports, which owns and operates the Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN racing team. “It’s a really exciting addition to our portfolio and we’ll be assembling a strategic cross-category merchandise range for the F1 team, as well as exploring licensing opportunities for Sauber Technology,” says Victoria.
It has also signed renowned international artist Romero Britto, for which it is currently building a design-led programme inspired by his vibrant and colourful artwork, plus the University of Southern California, utilising its Californian roots and ‘SoCal’ graphics to build a merchandise offering.
Victoria continues: “For the luxury British leather goods brand OSPREY LONDON, we have deals for bedding, wallpaper and cushions in development for later this year, and we’ve recently launched a range of premium garden furniture with Sitting Spiritually. For Yale University, we have India’s largest fashion retailer, Reliance, launching an extensive collection under their brand Team Spirit next month. We also represent cleaning-technology brand Kärcher and in partnership with the Simba Dickie Group, the brand is in development on a range of role-play toys. For Malibu, this summer will see the return of frozen Malibu ’poptails’ in the Netherlands and we’ll be expanding this category into other markets. We’re also in advanced discussions with partners in the chocolate category.”