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The Licensing Lookout: Food, glorious food

Start Licensing’s Ian Downes highlights a range of FMCG and food promotions this week.

Like London buses partworks seem to arrive in pairs. This has a lot to do with seasonality and timing. Although it does seem the launches are a little earlier this year.

Last week I spotted a National Geographic partwork, while this week I noticed a launch by Hachette of a Warhammer partwork. This seems like a perfect brand for a partwork. It has in-built collectability, added value content with a key element of this collection being painting gaming pieces and it is a licence that hasn’t been overexposed.


Warhammer is owned by Games Workshop I believe and it seems to be a brand owner that really understands its market and consumers. Its shops are staffed by enthusiastic and knowledgable staff. It is also a retailer that recognised that experimental retailing is worthwhile.

It offers the opportunity for shoppers to join in games and play in-store. Partworks seem to work best when tapping into significant niche topics with a well defined target market. For Warhammer this is a great way of recruiting new consumers and broadcasting their brand. It is good to see licensees engaging with different brands and also a reminder that there are commercial opportunities for licensees beyond the more obvious ones.

While my remit is to lookout for licensing sometimes I spot things which are difficult to define from the outside, but pique my licensing interest. I have always admired the Emma Bridgewater brand and design. Indeed my kitchen cupboard is a bit of a tribute act to the brand. It is a brand that has developed a range of licensed products over the years including toasters, notebooks and greetings cards.

However, it is also a brand that creates promotional partnerships with in the main FMCG brands to offer special edition mugs as part of on pack promotions.


A current example is premium soup brand the Yorkshire Provender which is offering consumers the chance to purchase a special edition Emma Bridgewater mug designed specially by the brand and available exclusively through the promotion.

This seems to be a very effective promotion and for Emma Bridgewater it gets it exposure in a controlled way with carefully chosen brands which I guess share values and consumer profile. Of course it also brings manufacturing business in as well.

I think there are lessons to be learnt for other brands in how Emma Bridgewater uses collaborations like this to fire up the brand and it also shows that FMCG brands are open to well crafted promotions.


Talking of promotions, there is a lot to admire about the partnership between Mr Kipling and Roald Dahl. This promotion has been running all summer I believe across most of Mr Kipling’s cake brands, tapping into the a summer ‘picnic’ market. There seems to be a good brand and product fit trading on both brands’ heritage and in the case of the cakes their ‘usage’.

It seems to hit a bullseye for family marketing and it allows a trusted brand like Roald Dahl to feature in the FMCG category in a controlled and safe way. The packaging design works well and communicates well on shelf. I am sure it was a Splendiferous Summer for both parties.


I have mentioned how well the Nando’s brand seems to be doing in terms of FMCG products such as sauces and marinades. I saw further evidence of its progress in this domain this week in Asda.

The brand had a lot of product on shelf and I think you could say it owned the shelf. Restaurant brands are an interesting licensing category. I think if you get it right, it can work well for both parties.


Another brand that seems to translate well into licensing is Pizza Express. It has a focused range of products such as dressings in the market. A key here is to be realistic and to know your customers. Restaurant brands seem to work best when ranges are kept tight and don’t stray too far from their core.

They also have potential in the composite gifting market as well as they become ‘giftable’ with gift purchasers able to pick products they know gift recipients are loyal to.

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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