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Face to face with… CPLG

We chat to UK md Stephen Gould about why the agency is in a stronger position than ever.

It’s fair to say that CPLG is rather busy at the moment. The agent is currently celebrating its 42nd year and heading for record revenues this financial year.

Since its acquisition by DHX Media back in 2012 – CPLG was originally the licensing arm of Cookie Jar Entertainment – the company has undergone a number of evolutionary changes, but its portfolio is broader and stronger than ever.

Former HIT Entertainment boss, Peter Byrne, became ceo in March 2013, and in June 2014, Stephen Gould was officially confirmed as managing director of CPLG UK. And this is a role which he is clearly relishing when The Source meets him at the company’s Hammersmith HQ.

“I see myself as a general practitioner,” he jests, “and I’m overseeing an exemplary group of specialist surgeons. We have fantastic people here at CPLG, they are all specialists in their chosen field and have impeccable connections and a wealth of industry experience and knowledge.

“The collaborative nature of what we do daily at CPLG really is very special.”

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The relationship with DHX has also opened a number of new doors for CPLG.

DHX Media is currently one of the world’s fastest growing media companies and the world’s largest independent children’s content provider, and CPLG now represents a growing and importance significance in its total annual turnover.

However, it was following its acquisition of Ragdoll Worldwide in September 2013, and the establishment of DHX Brands that the true power of the union started to come through.

“In the Night Garden is consistently performing well, and has now reclaimed the number four preschool brand position in the UK,” Stephen begins. “Teletubbies needs no introduction and the interest from both licensees and retail has been nothing short of phenomenal.

“The UK is the lead territory worldwide and next year you will really start to see the licensing and merchandising programme ramp up. The DHX Media and Ragdoll Productions co-production Twirlywoos is also doing particularly well, and then there are a few others that haven’t been announced yet.”

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The input from DHX alone is both exciting and tangible, but CPLG also represents the major movie studios of CBS, Lionsgate and Paramount, including the back catalogues which are, quite frankly, staggering in terms of licensing potential.

Away from Hollywood, and the relationship with Sesame Workshop also remains consistently strong and work continues on both Sesame Street and its preschool co-production with the BBC, The Furchester Hotel.

The popularity of both Elmo and Cookie Monster shows no sign of waning, with much commercial interest now coming from media agencies with clients such as BMW and global product brands such as Puma.

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The diversity in CPLG’s entertainment portfolio is clear, as Stephen rattles through just some of the brands he’s excited about – the delightful resurgence of Care Bears, Space Invaders transcending into popular culture with high-end ‘halo’ programmes, a dust down for the ubiquitous Pink Panther, the introduction of a brand new preschool show for girls and Star Trek turning 50 years old this summer.

And they’re just the ones he can talk about.

Within the sports arm, the 18-year partnership with the RFU has just been renewed for a further five years, and a raft of new opportunities have opened up for England Rugby following the Grand Slam win at the RBS 6 Nations.

“We don’t necessarily see the RFU as just a sports brand now – we see it also as a lifestyle brand with a legacy component in terms of the over-arching operational remit that drives the RFU from strength to strength,” Stephen confirms.

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There are exciting plans afoot for the St Andrews Links brand too, while Stephen says that both West Ham and Crystal Palace are consistently stable and evocative brands to work on.

It’s a very positive camp at CPLG at the moment, but one thing Stephen would like to procure is a brand which is exclusive to the UK office.

“We want to find a property that is unique to the UK, but also that the UK is simply ravenous for… and we think we’ve got it,” he teases.

“I don’t know if CPLG has ever really been in as strong a position as this before. We’re still a local, nimble, agile, friendly agency… but we’ve definitely also got impact, reach and credible leverage when and where required.”

This feature originally appeared in the Summer 2016 edition of Licensing Source Book. Click here to read the full publication.

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