This ad will be closed automatically in X seconds.

The Licensing Lookout

Start Licensing’s Ian Downes is bowled over by a new white goods licensing collaboration.

Just when I thought I had seen the white goods licensing deal to end all deals in the category, another one comes along to stir up the pot.

I thought the Volkswagen fridges that were launched last year were one of the best examples of licensing disrupting a category I had seen in a while. The fridges were made to look like VWs with the familiar grill, badge and colour scheme to the fore. All in all a great product and idea.

However, this week I saw a range that runs this very close in the category. The range is a partnership between white goods brand Smeg and design brand Dolce & Gabbana to create a range of free standing fridges decorated with D&G designs. This deal certainly sets the white goods licensing bar high.

I saw the full range in the Smeg store in London’s Haymarket. It created retail theatre and was driving interest in the category. Maybe part of the mission is to get consumers to view the category differently and take a bolder design approach to buying a functional item. As always as a bystander it is difficult to know what basis a deal has been struck on: be it on licensing terms, a collaboration with PR at its heart or simply a design commission.


I am not sure this range will suit every consumers’ kitchen or indeed budget, but what it does show is that in licensing we should never rule out a category or a partnership. Being bold is a good mantra to have in licensing and, at the moment, positioning licensing as a part of a communications armoury that can help disrupt or interrupt is not a bad position to take.

One category of licensing that seems to be gaining momentum is that of charity licensing. Help for Heroes has brought a lot of attention recently to the potential for charities to add licensing and licensing deals to their commercial mix. I think other charities are looking into licensing more at the moment and establishing a business model that suits all sides in the context of licensing. Some flexibility in deal structures and organisation is needed as the dynamics are different from mainstream licensing.


As we approach Remembrance Sunday I have noticed some clever deals in the market from the Royal British Legion centred on the iconic poppy. As noted earlier, it is always difficult to guess the commercials terms for deals, but I was impressed by the fact that the Royal British Legion had managed to secure a deal in the fresh flower category with a bouquet of fresh red flowers sold in Sainsbury’s as the Remembrance Bouquet with funds flowing back to the Legion.

Further to this, Sainsbury’s was selling a range of Royal British Legion merchandise in a FSDU including poppy candles – a partnership that has been in place for 23 years apparently so not such a ‘new’ thing after all. Maybe I am more observant these days.


I have also seen a lot of Gardman Royal British Legion Poppy bird feeders in-store recently in the garden centre sector. I first spotted these products at the Glee trade show and it is good to see that retailers have bought into the product – one that uses the iconic poppy well and clearly benefits from its official status – a fact that is conveyed well on product labels.

Charity partnerships could offer licensees and retailers some new opportunities to create innovative and engaging products while doing good. Pudsey and Children in Need is another good example of how licensing and charity have intersected in a positive way.


If there was an award for the best geographic placement of a licensed promotion, I think it would and should go to Paddington and Subway.

As I left Paddington station this week I spotted a Paddington 2 movie promotion in the Paddington branch of Subway.

It was well communicated by window posters and a pavement sign.

A simple promotion centred on pencils and pencil toppers but 100% geographically centred. Not sure there was a marmalade sub on offer, but nevertheless a well-placed promotion.

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.

The creative agency has welcomed Ben Laskey, creative director, and Craig Gordon, design director, to its board of directors....
Jazwares Game Studio is collaborating with Sony Pictures Consumer Products to introduce the official Cobra Kai: Karate Legends gaming experience to the Roblox platform....
“For this project, we blurred form and function to create an elevated collection of organic neutrals with motifs and textures inspired by our travels.”...
A number of activations involving the emoji brand are currently taking place at One East and Mosaic Shanghai, following a deal between The emoji company, Mandy Group and Medialink Group....
Natural History Museum is looking to hire a licensing manager to further grow its commercial and visitor experience department....
Over 270 industry executives took to the streets around Embankment and Westminster last night (17 July) for the popular summer treasure hunt in aid of The Light Fund, raising more than £8,000 in the process....
Get the latest news sent to your inbox
Subscribe to our daily newsletter

The list doesn't exist! Make sure you have imported the list on the 'Manage List Forms' page.