As he returns in the role of senior account manager after almost eight years away, Danny Smith reveals his plans for the future at Rainbow Productions.
After almost eight years, Rainbow Productions is delighted to welcome a familiar face back to the team. Here, Danny Smith, returning as senior account manager, catches up with the character and costume specialist’s creative marketing manager, Georgina Huckle and reveals his plans for the future at Rainbow.
Firstly, it’s great to have you back! What have you been up to since leaving Rainbow back in 2015?
Thanks – and it really is great to be back. I’ve spent the last few years experiencing other aspects of the licensing industry, specifically with licensees in the toiletries, poster and gifting sectors, so I’m returning with a greater knowledge of our industry as well as experience in overcoming a variety of challenges – many of which will be transferable to the issues we face even within our unique, niche sector.
Sounds like you’ve been busy. Have you noticed many differences since returning to Rainbow?
While it’s great to see much has stayed the same in terms of personnel still with the business, it has been eye-opening to see how the business has grown and evolved in the last eight years, particularly considering we’ve all had a pandemic to contend with during that time.
Our production techniques have advanced, notably on our character heads, which has opened up new avenues to the business. Plus, some elements of the character production process that we previously used external partners for, such as dying and printing, have been brought to an in-house operation.
There’s also been an obvious growth in our international client base, especially across Europe and The Middle East, where the volume of work now mirrors what we are doing within the UK.
From our events side, there is without doubt still the love and excitement from children (and parents) to meet their favourite licensed character, however I’ve noticed there’s certainly an increased appetite from our clients for more enhanced and interactive appearances. In response, our events team have evolved our offering to be able to cater to this need and this remains an ongoing project.
On a broader level, returning to Rainbow has highlighted how the world has changed since 2015. Technological improvements mean that remote working is easier and smoother than ever, which ties nicely into Rainbow’s new flexible working policy. Additionally electric vehicles are more commonplace in the UK and, as part of Rainbow’s green initiatives, the recently installed charging points not only help from an environmental point of view, but also help make my commute to Sussex more efficient on the days I come to the office.
There’s certainly been plenty of positive updates to the business. One of the projects you’ll be looking after are Rainbow’s new Non-Character Activations. Can you tell us more about that?
Linked to what I’ve just mentioned, we have seen first-hand how brand awareness can be developed and built using live activations in malls and leisure settings. With our vast database of actors and artistes coupled with our existing relationships with venues through the 1,200+ events we carry out each year, we are ideally placed to help brands fulfil this.
While the power of costume characters is well documented, we understand that non-character work, such as product demonstrations and interactive displays, also play a role in brand building and have the advantage of increased interaction with the audience over our more traditional work.
So there’s lots of exciting developments in the pipeline. What else do you have planned for the future at Rainbow?
Outside of brand activations, character manufactures and events, I also look forward to sharing some of the learnings I’ve gained over my years of being away, such as the transferable sales skills, strategies and processes.
Being away has reminded me that not only is Rainbow a great business to work for, but also what a fun, high quality and rewarding product we all work with on a daily basis. This is certainly something I’ll be keeping at the forefront and reminding colleagues going forward – something which is easily forgotten as workloads increase.
Finally, remind us about your favourite project(s) from your previous time with Rainbow?
One of the great things about working at Rainbow is that almost every project is truly memorable in some way. However, from an events perspective London 2012 stands out. It was a huge period for Rainbow as a business – and for me personally when I was road managing the official mascot Wenlock during the games’ Super Saturday! Being literally alongside Mo Farrah on the track after he crossed the finish line to take gold, was a ‘work’ experience I will never forget.
From a manufacture point of view, the costumes for the Ice Age franchise was a project that I personally put a lot of time and effort into – initially for a residency at my then client Alton Towers. However, once that order was secured and, importantly due to the incredible work done by our production team, Rainbow went on to become exclusive providers for the subsequent movie promotion and the order swiftly grew to all global markets, ultimately becoming one of the biggest orders in Rainbow’s history.