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Richard Pink: Holidays are coming…

Pink Key Licensing’s md on trying to cut through the Christmas clamour at retail.

How do I know what Darth Vader is getting for Christmas?

Because I’ve felt his presents…

Yes, I know, truly awful but an excellent way to start talking about Christmas promotions.

The one thing we all know about Christmas is that prices fall through the floor as the retailers attempt to grab the contents of the Christmas shopper’s wallet. For about a month, all the value drops out of the market and its price, price, price.

For a brand, it must be hard to resist getting drawn into the extravaganza of profit destruction, and so it becomes much more important to add value back into the mix. This is where licensing should be able to play a role – but it’s Christmas and all bets are off.

Retail at Christmas is a f****** nightmare (‘festive’ in case you were wondering) – it’s all noise, tinsel and who can shout the loudest. So how do you cut through the clamour at this time of year?

Coca-Cola is successful – it has managed to convince an awful lot of people that the first sign of Christmas is the sight of its red lorry trundling across our screens. It has cornered the market in weepy eyed tradition and it does it very well every year (to be fair it does have a claim as the only reason Santa wears a red suit is because many years ago Coca-Cola put him in one… it’s true, look it up…).

However this year sees a new licensed promotion I have a lot of time for. I happen to be the proud agent of the Kellogg’s licensing programme – but my admiration is going to the guys who put together the Elf on the Shelf programme that Kellogg’s has licensed in.

It’s a great programme – family orientated for a family brand that taps into the primary shopper and consumer of the property. An excellent match of brand values on both sides that works despite the restrictions placed on food brands aimed at children, but more importantly makes Kellogg’s cereals relevant to the festive period.

I also like the reciprocal nature of the activity. Not only is the Elf on the Shelf on the pack, there is also evidence of a well crafted partnership with Kellogg’s branded products being incorporated in a creative and totally appropriate way on the Elf’s website, with Kellogg’s Corn Flakes being shown as ‘Pet Reindeer Food’ – good work!

It’s beautifully balanced – Kellogg’s has acquired a solid and high profile Christmas brand, and the Elf gets a partner with high distribution and awareness without the feeling of being over commercialised.

Licensed promotional marketing at its very best.

Richard Pink is managing director of Pink Key Licensing, a licensing agency specialising in the development of programmes for brands including Kellogg’s Vintage, Pringles, SLUSH PUPPiE, Pan Am and Jane Asher.

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