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On the road… it’s this week’s Licensing Lookout

Start Licensing Ian Downes heads out on a road trip and finds some strong examples of how independent retailers are featuring licensed products.

I ventured out and took a bit of a road trip this week. I stayed in the lovely town of Corsham in Wiltshire. Not sure if it is a town or a large village. I mentioned this to my mum and she asked me if it had a Town Hall. I said yes it did. She replied “well it’s a town then”. Seems fair enough. In any case it was nice to be out and about. Seemingly things are getting back to normal. The local shops, pubs and restaurants seemed quite busy.

I made an early Licensing Lookout spot in the pub I was staying in. The Metheun Arms had a range of beers from Bristol-based brewery Butcombe. The range included a Pale Ale produced in association with Countryfile presenter Adam Henson, called Adam Henson’s Rare Breed – a nod to the fact that Adam owns and runs the Cotswold Farm Park. Adam is a champion of preserving rare breeds. I am pleased to report that I tested the product and it was an excellent example of licensing… so much so, I tested it twice.

It is not the first example of a brewery using a brand or celebrity to brand a beer I have seen and it seems to be a trend. I am guessing it helps achieve stand out and creates good content for consumer PR. It is also a way of a brewery emphasising its connection to the local community or area. There seems to be a lot of activity in the drinks category with a lot of good examples of licensing in the market.

My client the Ashmolean Museum has developed a gin with The Oxford Artisan Distillery, while Harrogate Tipple has developed a Downton Abbey gin. I would expect to see more activity in this category.

LL4I ventured into nearby Tetbury as well. I was rewarded relatively early on by spotting a Rupert Bear scarf on display in the window of Tetbury Tailors. It was very well presented and drew attention to the shop.

The shop owner told me his was one of only two shops where you could buy the scarf. The scarf itself was instantly recognisable with the signature Rupert colourways and subtle Rupert branding.

It is a fun product and a good use of a classic licence. It was also a reminder of how branded merchandise can help retailers create effective visual displays.

LL5It was also good to see that Tetbury had a number of other independent retailers including the Yellow Lighted Bookshop and gift retailer Domestic Science. The latter had a great selection of greeting cards and homewares. I noticed it had a number of licensed cards from Hype including Miffy and a display of Peter Rabbit mini cards.

Towns like Tetbury need their independent retailers to survive and thrive. They add to the colour and character of a town. It is good to see licensed products featuring in these retailers.

LL3Tetbury is also very close to Prince Charles’ Highgrove Estate. Highgrove has a shop in Tetbury. The shop, not unexpectedly, sells a lot of branded Highgrove merchandise. All profits go to the Prince of Wales’ Charitable Foundation. A couple of things caught my eye in the shop. First I thought it was great to see Highgrove supporting and celebrating ‘the makers’. It had a ceramics range featuring illustrations of the gardens at Highgrove created by potter Janine Roper. It is good to see a retailer like Highgrove acknowledging the makers and celebrating their work. It is a great showcase for them.

It was also interesting to see a range of lithographs of Prince Charles’ artwork on sale. These were sold in limited edition and numbered. They were also signed by Prince Charles. They were presented in a presentation cases. These are high-end products priced at £2,500, but I thought it was a great example of how art is becoming more collectible and in demand particularly when marketed in limited edition runs. It is also a good example of how the presentation, authenticity and originality of a product can help position it towards higher price points.

LL1My visit to Tetbury was made even better by spotting Shaun the Sheep. One of the cafés had bought Knitwit, one of the Shaun statues from a Wild in Art art trail, and had placed it outside the café.

A great reminder of how much fun Wild in Art trails are and what a great showcase for artists they are. I believe the company has a couple of character driven trails on at the moment with Elmer at the Elephant in London and Morph in North Tyneside. The trails are fantastic examples of fresh thinking in licensing.

LL2Finally, I was also really pleased to see Nadiya Hussain’s cookware range from Prestige launch this week. The Nadiya Loves range has been a labour of love for Nadiya and Prestige.

It has been really interesting and informative to work on it and I think the range is a really original one which Nadiya has been fully involved in. It is a really authentic collection. It has taken a while to develop which is a reminder that sometimes it is important to approach licensing in a measured and considered way.

I am looking forward to using some of the range in my kitchen.

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.

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