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The Licensing Lookout

Start Licensing’s Ian Downes starts to feel the Euro 2016 football fever this week.

Beyond paying for a season ticket at Millwall, I have no commercial involvement in football at the moment. However, I felt for those that are involved in the ‘business of football’ this week, particularly those working with the England Football team.

Victory against Germany may have encouraged licensees to press the button to up their orders, while defeat against Holland a few days later would have seen that order countermanded. As Greavsie used to say “It is a funny old game”.

Within the volatile football market, collectable sticker firm Panini are making a real effort to maximise the commercial return on their ‘Officially Licensed’ Euro 16 Sticker Collection – the collection is being TV advertised at the moment  (with the voiceover calling out that the collection is ‘Officially Licensed’ – I wonder if this a message to the trade rather than consumers?). As well as TV they have also invested in some prominent FSDUs.

Interestingly the FSDU I spotted in Sainsbury’s was positioned near the news area, but not in it. I wonder if this part of a new approach to try to get stickers onto the main shopfloor in supermarkets encouraging trial pick up and repeat purchase, especially from consumers buying the product for someone else.

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I also noticed that a FSDU of other stickers, blindbag product and trading cards was sighted in the main store near the magazine section – until recently the same products appeared behind the kiosk desk at the front of store. Maybe the perceived wisdom is that this new position is more relevant for the category.

The other observation I made on seeing the FSDU was how many collections there are out at the moment and it must be a very competitive sector to succeed in. I guess in the supermarket context it is unlikely that the primary purchaser will be a child on their own, although they may remind/pester an adult to buy if they are with them!

While companies who have backed particular teams like England will be looking nervously at the results this summer, those with a more general tournament licence such as the one Panini hold, will probably allow them to be slightly more relaxed; clearly the performance of the ‘home’ nations will be a key driver to success. That said Panini are a pan-European licensee so they are certain to have the winning team on their side.

I think Panini have also recognised the power of social media – they are using the hashtag #GotGotNeed on the FSDU and I think as part of a wider PR campaign. I guess this is also to stir up some nostalgia among parents and older collectors. I think the memory of collecting football stickers is one shared by a lot of people and creates a great marketing connection.

I have noticed on Twitter that there are links with organisations such as the Wales FA with Twitter chat about the collection – it is good to see a licensee recognising that they need to invest in PR, social media and marketing to support their licensed product. It is easy to sit back and think that once a licence is signed the job is done.

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My view is that licensees will need to do more marketing in future to sell licensed products to consumers.

With this in mind I was encouraged to see that new licensee AC Worldwide, who have developed licensed Star Wars Bluetooth speakers, are investing in well targeted consumer advertising to support the launch of their products. I spotted that they had a full-page colour advert on the outside back cover of Total Film magazine.

Bearing in mind their products retail for £149 it is sensible that they are backing the licence with targeted advertising. It will be a considered purchase – the product has to perform well and be a good product beyond the licence selling it. Readers of Total Film would, I imagine, be the sort of consumers who would buy a product like this. It fits editorially with the title’s ethos.

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The advertisement also namechecks retailers. Again this seems a sensible move, but also a good use of marketing money in a retail context and maybe more rewarding than ‘simply’ buying space in a store. The product is innovative and offers something different for a well established licence, but the licensee hasn’t been complacent – they have recognised they have to market and sell it as well.

In the same issue of Total Film, Enesco had a half page advert for resin collectable figurines of Captain America – a limited edition of 500 pieces. Again another example of a licensee using targeted advertising to sell licensed products. Sometimes as a licensee you have to find your consumers and then shout about your product. A good licence will amplify your message.

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Finally, I continue to be impressed by the way Kellogg’s are using high profile licences to create special edition packs. The latest ones I have spotted feature Marvel Avengers. Not sure if these have been around for a while – I am not a serial visitor to the cereal aisle, but the packs look really good and show off the comic influenced artwork well.

I presume they encourage people to buy the product as well and are maybe a slight antidote to the price driven marketing that seems to be prominent in the sector. I wonder if we might see some football related products in the run up to the Euros or would that be too much of a risk for the category. Although I expect Panini may have a promotion or two to deploy yet.

Anyway I am off to get my sticker collection started and see how many Millwall players feature in it… there will be at least one!

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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