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The Licensing Lookout

It’s a mixture of cooking and culture for Start Licensing’s Ian Downes this week.

It has been a good week for the Great British Bake Off judges. I have seen two very noteworthy pieces of activity involving Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.

Paul Hollywood has linked up with licensee Kitchen Craft to create a broad range of bakeware under the Paul Hollywood brand name. I saw the range in a garden centre and was very impressed by the overall presentation of the range, the products themselves and the commitment shown at ‘retail’ by Paul and the licensee to the product.


I imagine Kitchen Craft have sold in the range with a commitment to providing point of sale, sales materials and guidance on how to sell the products. It was very effectively presented and I am sure it caught consumer’s attention. It is using a celebrity licence well – Paul Hollywood is really behind it and that would add to consumer confidence in the range.

I am no baking expert, but the product seemed to be of a good quality – another important point – consumers will expect to be able to buy a product that is fit for purpose and value for the money asked for it. Also, in this case I am sure Paul Hollywood would have been closely involved in the product development, the choice of materials and design direction – it sets a good standard for personality based licensing.

I actually tweeted about it and got a response from Paul – another sign that he is interested and involved in ‘his’ products.


Meanwhile, Lakeland are stocking a range of Mary Berry salad dressings and vinaigrettes. These are developed under licence by RH Amar. The product features Mary on-pack. It looks contemporary and premium. It is interesting to see Mary Berry developing non baking products – although she had a very successful culinary career before Bake Off. This activity is a legacy of that and she is a very credible endorser in the context of food licensing. Rather like Paul Hollywood, Mary has to protect her reputation and credibility. In this case presentation is important, but taste and flavour is paramount.

I am pleased to say the Lemon & Mustard Seed Vinaigrette was excellent and certainly enhanced Mary’s reputation in my house. I was very honest and admitted the salad dressing was out of a bottle, however tempting it was to pretend otherwise.

Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry are developing very successful licensing programmes independently of the Great British Bake Off. Both celebrities seem to be taking a strategic approach to their licensing campaigns, focusing on programmes that feature a small number of licensees and products.

They seem committed to ensuring these are good quality ranges that reinforce their ‘brand values’. The presentation of the Paul Hollywood range by Kitchen Craft was a really good example of how licensing can come alive at retail and make a real difference.


I was also impressed by the V&A’s latest collaboration with Oasis. This collaboration sees Oasis developing fashion ranges based on designs from the museum’s archive. I believe the latest collection is the second partnership between the two. It is communicated with window displays, in-store displays and PR: a key part of the partnership is the credibility and authority behind it.

It really leverages the V&A’s credibility while the museum benefits from the design endorsement and expertise of an expert retailer. It is also a further example of the move at retail to more in-depth partnerships between brand owners and retailers, particularly outside of the ‘hot’ entertainment licensing category. It is good to see retailers embracing different types of licensing and partnerships.


Remaining in the museum sector, I visited the Tate Modern gift shop and it was good to see how licensing featured. The range that caught my eye in particular was one based on Miffy. The range seemed to mix a range of products that including the museum’s own developments, some off the shelf UK licences and product sourced from other markets.

In the latter category, there were some fantastic crocheted Miffy soft toys which I believe had been sourced from Holland. Museum and gallery shops can provide a great showcase for licensed products, offering an international consumer audience and the opportunity to curate focused ranges.


I also liked the Roy Lichtenstein Whaam! products in the Tate shop – Star Editions were involved in this range. I guess the range was put together directly for the Tate, but it is a great example of what can be achieved with iconic art and artwork – I think this is a category and source of licensing that is a little undervalued in the UK.

The success of V&A and Oasis may well encourage others to look at artists such as Lichtenstein and partners such as the Tate to develop exclusive ranges linked to marketing and promotional campaigns. I think museum shops are also great places to find inspiration for NPD and also provide some great examples of retail display and presentation.

I also visited the Museum of Value this week – Poundland.


I think you have to admire their ability to create interest in products and use their floor space to full effect. I noticed a FSDU of car air fresheners based on the Walls’ ice cream licence Funny Feet. A great choice for the category: recognisable and distinctive. The product was innovative in terms of its shape and format, the £ 1 price mark made it interesting for trail purchase and the fact it is presented in a bold FSDU made it compelling.

I stopped and tried one – I think the licensee has recognised that in a category like car air fresheners which is crowded you need to be thinking about how you can create a product that stands out. This is a good example of engaging with the value sector without ignoring NPD and innovation.

The car air freshener sector is also a good example of a category that licensing has made a big difference to – giving manufacturers access to brands that they can create a point of difference with and encourage consumers to think about repeat purchase.

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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