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Serving up licensing success… it’s this week’s Licensing Lookout

Start Licensing’s Ian Downes finds more evidence of event-related licensing and promotions rolling out into the market this week.

As I write this and look out of my window I think summer has arrived. The sun is shining, at least for an hour or so.

I am sure the companies involved with live events this summer will be checking the weather forecasts and hoping that the weather improves for them. I have certainly seen more evidence of event-related licensing and promotions rolling out into the market this week.

A great example of this is KP Snacks partnering with The Hundred cricket tournament again this year. I noticed an in-store and on pack promotion on Hula Hoops, Skips and Pop Chips in my local Co-Op. The promotion was supported by a branded FSDU which included a QR Code which consumers can ‘scan to enter’ a competition centred on The Hundred. The FSDU and the QR Code reinforce a trend I have flagged up before for FMCG brands in particular to bring promotions alive in-store. Branded FSDUs create some retail theatre and boost engagement. Given how content rich the world of licensing is, there must be great scope for licensing to take advantage of this trend. Technologies like QR Codes are opening up new ways of supporting promotions and product in-store. This is definitely something licensing can capitalise on.

Of course, the European Football Championships are currently on in Germany. If you have been watching the tournament it has been interesting to see that Germany has faced a lot of weather challenges t00 – it’s not just the British weather we have to worry about! But fortunately for those involved commercially in the Euros the German rain hasn’t stopped play (although lightening did in one game).

LL3There are a number of promotions and partnerships linked to the Euros in the market, including the one I spotted this week for Wrigleys chewing gum. The promotion is an England national team one with a FSDU featuring three England players (all of whom have played in the England team at the Euros which must be a relief to Wrigleys).

I saw this promotion in the same Co-Op as The Hundred promotion – indeed they were located next to each other which reinforces how competitive retail can be and how many ‘messages’ shoppers are delivered in-store. The crux of this promotion is consumers can win £10,000 for themselves and a similar sum for grassroots football – I presume the winning consumer can select a grassroots club to send the money to. It is a smart way of linking elite football to grassroots football while building on the momentum of the Euros. The longer England stay in the tournament the better for partners like Wrigleys, but given they have made the quarter finals I suspect Wrigleys feels the promotion was a good idea and represents good value for money.

LL5Another noteworthy sporting event that is currently underway is the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. They started on Monday. I actually visited Wimbledon Village on Saturday and was impressed by how the shops, pubs and restaurants in the village embrace the Championships. Most of them take an active part in an annual competition that sees them dress their windows and buildings with a Wimbledon tennis theme. This has grown and grown over the years with the standard of display getting better every year.

The overall effect is that the whole village takes on a Wimbledon theme and embraces the tennis. In turn I think this has a positive impact on footfall. It is a great example of how retailers and a retail community can embrace an event capitalising on it to create a ‘reason to visit’.

LL4One of the village pubs had chosen to feature The Wombles in its window display building on The Wombles connection with Wimbledon Common. One of the charity shops used a tennis match ready Snoopy painted on a chalkboard to encourage people to donate.

It was also interesting to see Joe & The Juice present a ‘collab’ with tennis player Nick Kyrgios. I think he is injured at the moment but is doing media work at the event. He is, of course, a player that has a high profile and is a ‘bit of a character’ so represents a good choice for a brand like Joe & The Juice in that he achieves ‘cut through’. The product that has been created is ‘The Big Smash’, a protein shake which is low in sugar. It is available for a limited time in all Joe & The Juice outlets. This is a great example of a retailer seizing on a marketing moment in conjunction with a ‘brand personality’ who brings a following but also has credibility in the category. The way Wimbledon Village embraces the Wimbledon Tennis Championships is a really vivid example of what can be possible when there is a collective will to achieve something and, of course, a central theme to focus on.

LL2Brand owners are getting better at creating these focused opportunities themselves and a great example of this launched this week. Aardman and Wild in Art have collaborated with the Heart of Kent Hospice to deliver a Shaun the Sheep Art Trail in and around Maidstone. The trail will feature 100 uniquely decorated Shaun the sheep sculptures. The sculptures are decorated by artists who were elected after a submissions process. The sculptures are sponsored by a range of firms and at the end of the trail they are auctioned off to benefit the charity. Wild in Art has successfully delivered a number of these trails now featuring well known characters and it has helped establish them as ‘events’ which charities and towns seek out.

Rather like how Wimbledon Tennis is creating focus and momentum for Wimbledon Village, a trail like the Shaun the Sheep one can bring significant benefits to towns like Maidstone. Beyond the retail and fundraising boost, these events are also beneficial to the community from a health and well-being perspective as people get ‘out and about’ to follow the trail. It also fuels community engagement with schools programmes running in parallel with the main trail. For brand owners like Aardman, art trails provide an additional platform for fan engagement and help build a story around a character brand. It is also a great way to see a well established character like Shaun the Sheep be used in fresh ways creatively.

Of course, there is also a benefit from a licensed merchandise point of view. The Heart of Kent Hospice has opened two destinations shops selling event merchandise blended with licensed products sourced from partners such as Aurora and Paw Print Family. Other local retailers also top up their stock when a trail is in town. It is a welcome boost to retail. It is also a really positive and visible licensing ‘success story’ – these art trails create a lot of consumer PR which is obviously great for all the partners that are directly involved in the trail, but I also think we can underestimate the benefit of these sort of activations to the wider licensing sector.

LL1Thinking about PR and how licensing is talked about in the media, I was very encouraged to see two ‘good news’ stories relating to licensing this week. BBC Breakfast ran a very positive piece about Bridgerton and highlighted how consumers are ‘clamouring’ for products or experiences. They highlighted the Bridgerton range that is currently in Primark and also a Bridgerton themed afternoon tea that is being hosted by The Lanesborough Hotel. It was a very positive piece that combined the ‘fun of licensing’ with its commercial appeal well.

In a similar spirit, it was good to see a leading licensee featuring in the recently published Sunday Times One Hundred list of Britain’s fastest growing private companies. Bioworld International was placed 94th in the list and the write up mentioned that ‘this business manufactures licensed garments and accessories in partnership with brands including Disney, Warner Bros and Minecraft’. Well done to Bioworld International for the recognition and again it is recognition that is a useful boost for the wider licensing sector. Stories like these two and very public licensing lead activations like the Shaun the Sheep trail are great examples to point to and show people that licensing works.

Ian Downes runs Start Licensing, an independent brand licensing agency. His X handle is @startlicensing and on Instagram he is @iandownesphotos – he would welcome your suggestions for what to look out for.

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