This ad will be closed automatically in X seconds.

The Licensing Lookout

The importance of design refreshment for evergreens is key for Start Licensing’s Ian Downes this week.

Success in licensing is driven by a range of factors. Perhaps the most obvious being that a licensed property needs to be popular in the first place. Beyond this factors such as retail uptake and trade marketing come into play.

However, a key factor that is often underestimated is a real commitment to design and design development. This is especially true when dealing with classic properties. These evergreen properties are well established and familiar with to consumers. Design refreshment can help enthuse consumers, retailers and licensees. Categories such as greetings cards are particularly demanding design wise with a high churn over of product and a competitive retail environment.


With this in mind I was very impressed by Carlton Cards’ In the Hundred Acre Wood card range featuring Winnie the Pooh. They had used a photographic treatment with a soft plush Pooh photographed in a golden tone with a cute message overlaid on the cards. This seemed very effective to me. It successfully captured the classic nature of the property, while retaining the cute factor and being contemporary in feel.

I am sure Disney and Carlton worked together on this and have created a style that could be used in other categories. It certainly stood out in the fixture I spotted it in. There are others who know more about the science of selling cards than I do, but I thought this was a very good example of a classic licence being refreshed and a product range working well in the hurly burly of retail. It is important that when thinking about design in licensing we focus on where and how product will be sold.

On this theme, I have mentioned before about the growing importance of standing out at retail and trying to create new shelf space for products. With this thought in mind my feeling is that licensors and agents need to combine their design work with retail display ideas. Creating ideas for retail display that are useable and reflect retail needs is in my view a good investment. Parragon, a leading licensed book supplier, seem to recognise this and have developed branded FSDUs for their PAW Patrol books.


I spotted one in my local garden centre – in itself confirmation that garden centres are more than garden centres these days. The FSDU was eyecatching and engaging. It also allowed Parragon to gain a foothold in store by delivering new retail space off shelf.

These retail units can be costly and are difficult to police – it is not uncommon to see other products displayed in branded units, but in the current retail environment this type of retail development may offer one way of breaking through at retail.

In a small way this approach also allows retailers to leverage more from popular licences, as the displays become a point of interest in store. I am sure licensees can track the effectiveness of this investment through sales data, but I think in the future we will see more of this kind of activity.


I was also interested to see that Disney and Kellogg’s had extended their partnership activity to include Finding Dory with two branded Rice Krispies packs. This follows on from similar activity for Star Wars and Marvel. Some of these packs are still in-store giving Disney a strong presence in the popular cereals aisle. I am guessing people buy into the product in part on impulse driven by the novelty value of the packaging.

From Disney and Kellogg’s point of view I guess this is activity they can dial up or down depending on demand and market dynamics. Thinking ahead I would expect them to be looking at other ideas as they will be conscious that this is the third time they have used the technique.

Maybe a collection of classic animation characters on their Variety boxes might work well? I also think both parties will be sensitive to over using character licensing in the category as well. This is a good example of how licensors need to sense check deals beyond the normal financial dynamics. But it certainly adds design vibrancy to quite a staid product category.


The owners of Mr Men Little Miss have been busy of late. They too would have been weighing up the pluses and minuses of a deal I spotted this week I imagine. I saw a product partnership with vitamins company Haliborange. The range of Multivitamins and Omega 3 treats was promoted with window displays and are being sold in brightly coloured character branded packaging. This is a category that other licensed properties have appeared in and seems to be in growth.

A character range clearly offers a point of difference and creates opportunities for consumer engagement to brands such as Haliborange that aren’t so obvious with a standard product. When entering a category like this I imagine the brand owner weighs things up carefully in regards to brand positioning, consumer perception and the safety aspect of this category. With that in mind I am guessing working with such a well established and highly regarded brand as Haliborange provides Sanrio with a huge dose of confidence and reassurance.

As licensing becomes more competitive there will be more occasions where brand owners will have to weigh up the appropriateness of deals and categories as they seek to develop new ways of commercialising their rights. In this case I think this represents a good partnership with a proven brand and has opened up a new retail channel for Mr Men Little Miss via independent chemists.

I am sure the relationship could provide further opportunities such as promotions linked to the iconic book series which would be attractive to both partners.


Finally, I think I have found a new candidate for the Licensed Not Licensed Award. Golden Wonder’s Transform-a-Snack did remind me of something… I couldn’t quite place it though… answers on a postcard.

Although for the record and good housekeeping, Golden Wonder have registered the brand name Transform-a-Snack and it has been round for a while. It is also a great tasting product. I can recommend the pickled onion flavour.

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.

Poetic is now planning a wide range of babywear, accessories, maternity wear, family apparel, footwear and luggage for the brand, inspired by the colourful and positive imagery associated with Sesame Street throughout its many decades....
Initial Boat Rocker properties that Firefly will be representing in the US include Orphan Black, Orphan Black: Echoes, Beacon 23, Big Comfy Couch, Danger Mouse, Rainbow and Count Duckula....
New RHS licensee, Willsow will highlight its range of RHS Plantable Seed Paper Calendars and Plantable Christmas Crackers, while established partner Moorcroft will present its newest range of RHS art pottery....
The collaboration sees Hasbro adopting Fabacus' technology, Xelacore, to enhance its data management capabilities worldwide, initiating with a phased regional rollout across Europe, the Middle East and Africa....
With season three now streaming on Netflix, the Regency era of Bridgerton has been inspiring a number of licensees across some key categories....
Jazwares has revealed a significant milestone in the company’s European growth strategy by opening its latest wholly owned office in Bilbao, Spain, to service the Iberian market in 2025....
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.