Start Licensing’s Ian Downes is reminded on an Easter weekend visit to Homebase that not all good ideas are new ones.
During my time at Copyright Promotions I had the pleasure of working closely with one of the company’s co-founders, David Cardwell. David set up Copyright Promotions with Richard Culley. They were a great double act and had tremendous vision. My work with David was wide ranging but had a heavy emphasise on new business and business development. David was always firing ideas my way, most of which resulted in some very interesting conversations and often new deals. He was very forward thinking.
Some 20+ years ago, David flagged up to me that broadcast regulations were changing in the UK and as a result magazine brands could develop their own TV shows or channels. He felt this would create an opportunity for Copyright Promotions to get involved in licensing magazine brands. As a result of David’s encouragement I ended up meeting with IPC Magazines. IPC was one of the leading consumer publishers of the time. I secured representation of a number of IPC titles including Amateur Gardening and Practical Parenting.
David came to my mind this week on a visit to Homebase. Not because we used to chat about spanners and spigots, but because I spotted a number of products in-store that were based on magazine brands. Alas not Amateur Gardening nor Practical Parenting (that said I didn’t venture into Homebase’s garden centre…)
Homebase was very busy – there was actually a long queue, but then it was Easter weekend. It seems going to the DIY store is as much an Easter tradition as eating chocolate eggs! Homebase is very much a multi-product retailer, with DIY at its core but with a mix of other product such as gardening products, bedding, lighting, housewares and furniture.
Within the paint department I saw a fixture that featured a paint range from Crown developed under licence from Elle Decoration magazine. The paint range is interior emulsion pitched as a premium product. Crown is, of course, a well-known and well established brand in the paint category. Elle Decoration is well regarded as a voice in style and design. By working with Elle Decoration it seems Crown has created a point of difference in a competitive category and has licensed a brand which helps it to build a fresh identity in-store.
I am sure part of the motivation for Crown is accessing new and maybe younger consumers. I am no paint expert, but I imagine it is quite a conservative category from a consumer point of view – a brand like Elle Decoration shakes the category up and gives consumer’s another reason to buy. I am sure the product range is supported in the magazine with advertising and promotional features. For Elle Decoration it is, of course, a source of new income, but it also allows it to get the brand featured in an appropriate retail environment. It might help to recruit new readers and subscribers.
I didn’t see any direct link to the magazine in-store, but maybe a further step would be for Crown and Elle Decoration to create a mini magazine for consumers to pick up with paint tips or perhaps a subscription offer linked to purchase. Apologies if I missed any of this – it was a flying visit to the paint department.
Another example of magazine brands coming alive through licensing was a range of fitted kitchens sold exclusively in Homebase featuring the Country Living and House Beautiful magazine brands.
An exclusive deal like this is a big commitment for both parties and is also a great example of the potential in licensing to go beyond a single product. Seemingly the ranges have been given dedicated space in-store, but due to the current situation the showroom is closed.
To be fair to Homebase, I think it is offering online appointments to customers interested in one of the kitchens. A good example of a retailer responding to current shopping restrictions with a viable alternative for customers. I just hope the kitchens come with a built-in magazine rack!
There were some other examples of licensing on show at Homebase including Julien Macdonald wallpapers – a natural category for a designer to feature in. The range included colours and options such as Chandelier Pink wallpapers. The recommendation and endorsement from a well-known designer such as Julien Macdonald is similar to the Elle Decoration endorsement – it gives consumers permission and confidence to try new colours, finishes and styles.
I know space is precious at retail, but I do think a range as colourful as Julien’s deserved a better display and I wonder if retailers like Homebase could make more of ranges like this in POS terms.
Unsurprisingly, Disney featured in-store as well. I spotted Marvel wallpaper featuring all-over comic art – I could see this appealing to children but also adults – while Disney featured in the lighting department with a range of Finding Dory lampshades from Philips. Here consumers get the reassurance of Disney working with Philips, a brand that consumers will have high levels of trust in I imagine.
Disney has to be admired for the way it works with companies like Philips and also achieves such widespread retail coverage.
I am sure there was more licensing to spot in Homebase, but these days it is not prudent to spend too much time taking photos in-store – especially on an Easter weekend.
However before I left the store I spotted another product, Mangers Cylinder Jackets. This is an insulated jacket for your heating cylinder I believe. The jacket was pink. Again David Cardwell came to mind. I am sure he mentioned this product to me some 20 years ago and suggested that it would be a great one for the Pink Panther. Copyright Promotions represented the Pink Panther at the time.
Although I think my get of jail card was that the Pink Panther was already working with Owens Corning insulation products in the US at the time and the product was bound to come over to Europe. That partnership celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. A great example of a simple but effective creative idea working in licensing.
Licensing always needs new ideas and creative thinking – my trip to Homebase underlined this, but it also reminded me that not all good ideas are new ones.
Will be trying to remember a few of David Cardwell’s other ideas this week!
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.