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‘Licensed characters create memorable experiences’

How brand owners and holiday companies are forging closer links than ever before.

Summer is fast approaching (and even the weather seems to have got the memo) and thoughts are turning to those all-important family holidays. And, whether it’s a staycation or a trip overseas, more and more brand owners are working with travel and holiday companies to create special experiences featuring licensed characters for a captive audience of children.

Butlin’s has been working with licensed characters for 17 years, beginning with Noddy and then the HIT Entertainment stable of properties for many years. 2017 has seen it add Teletubbies, Mr Men Little Miss and Danger Mouse to its roster.

“We recognise the value [licensed characters] bring in attracting guests to our brand, but also the value they offer in creating memorable experiences,” says Mike Godolphin, entertainment director at Bourne Leisure, which owns and operates the three Butlin’s resorts in the UK – Bognor Regis, Skegness and Minehead.

“Through great delivery we have built a good reputation with brand owners. We try to find brands that work well with our strategy, ones which parents trust and can be entertained by as well as their children.”

This year’s activity includes mini shows with Teletubbies and Mr Men, as well as a main stage 50-minute show with Danger Mouse, marking the first live show for the brand. There are also drive-in movies with Mr Men, with children arriving in toy cars. All characters are also available for meet and greets and photo opportunities.

“Butlin’s is the authentic UK seaside holiday brand,” continues Mike. “We use that heritage to our advantage and many guests book solely on this basis. However, the USP of Butlin’s is its immersive entertainment experience. Having licensed characters allows customers to be excited about television coming to life with brands they know and trust.”

TFTHaven

For Tessa Moore, svp global brand management at FremantleMedia Kids & Family, being able to connect with their favourite characters in a live environment is a powerful way for kids to engage with brands. As well as Butlin’s, the company is also working with Thomas Cook and Airtours this year, while previous years have seen Tree Fu Tom appear at Haven resorts (pictured above).

Merchandise including toys, books and DVD is also available at resorts. Tessa says: “New to Butlin’s this year will be the iconic Mark IV car and the Danger Mouse talk and pose figure. Also available are Penguin’s collection of DM books, including the popular Sticker Book, and Universal’s forthcoming Danger Mouse: The Agents Who Saved Summer DVD.”

Tessa admits that FMK is currently in discussion with other leading resorts about additional brands within its portfolio, further underlining the growing importance of holiday companies to brand owners.

Angelina

The new avenue is also good news for Rainbow Productions, which is supplying the costume character ‘content’ for Butlin’s.

“We work with Butlin’s on an ongoing basis, supporting their wardrobe team with replacement parts, as well as the initial costumes,” md David Scott explains. “We also work with Pontins and Center Parcs who also brochure the character appearances.”

It’s clear that activity with holiday companies is a win-win for both sides. For the likes of Butlin’s and Thomas Cook, having celebrity characters attracts families and adds huge value to their visitor experience.

Meanwhile, the brand owner gets to see their characters in a quality environment, endorsing children’s affinity with the brand, as well as offering a great opportunity for merchandise sell-through in the retail outlets.

Roll on summer.

This feature originally appeared in the summer 2017 edition of Licensing Source Book. Click here to read the full publication.

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