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The Licensing Lookout: Exclusively yours

Start Licensing’s Ian Downes visits the Exclusively Shows this week and spies some on-trend use of licences.

I would be the first to admit that I am not the target demographic for Love Island so I admit it has passed me by. However, I would readily acknowledge it achieves ‘cut through’ among a younger audience.

In TV terms this younger audience is much sought after, not least to spark commercial interest from advertisers and sponsors. So I was surprised on a number of levels to spot a Love Island branded National Lottery scratchcard this week.

The scratchcard category tends to use licensing sparingly.
The scratchcard category tends to use licensing sparingly.

This is a category that uses licensing sparingly. Previously I have spotted Monopoly scratchcards. I am guessing the National Lottery saw this as an opportunity to reach a younger audience and renew their interest in scratchcards.

As an agent or brand owner there are certain categories of products that cause more debate. I think products that have a gambling connotation fall into that category. In a time where it seems de rigeur to ‘confess’ past sins I admit I like a flutter – generally on the horses – so I am not by nature anti-gambling.

However it is a category that requires more consideration than most. Indeed I have worked with a number of licensors which have turned down these kind of opportunities for their brands. My moral dilemma was resolved when I asked to buy a Love Island scratchie… the shop assistant said ‘sorry mate you look too old’; in fact he told me that they hadn’t been delivered yet and the card I had seen was just the display card. A practical demonstration that a well timed licensed product needs on time distribution to work to full effect.

Related to this, I think a contemporary licensing programme has to take into account what is going on in the wider world. It is always worthwhile taking a step back to assess the merits of each deal and partnership.

Beyond hanging around shop counters this week, I also visited the 2 for 1 of trade shows – Exclusively Housewares and Exclusively Electricals. Licensing featured throughout both shows but was relatively limited from what I saw in overall terms.

Licensing stalwarts DNC and Stor were both exhibiting and had a number of licensed ranges in their product offerings. Likewise Anniversary House/Creative Party was there with one highlight being its range of party paperware featuring The Snowman. It was good to see these three companies exhibiting and backing licensing.

Tefal was showcasing a promotional link with Men in Black at the Exclusively Shows this week.
Tefal was showcasing a promotional link with Men in Black at the Exclusively Shows this week.

Interestingly Tefal was showcasing a promotional link with the latest Men in Black movie. A clever association using the strapline ‘Discover Men in Black’s Secret to Always Looking Good’ promoting a hand held clothes steamer product. I believe there are a significant range of promotional partners tied into the film.

Men In Black is a proven franchise which is a known quantity for promotional partners. Indeed I spotted another promotional tie in outside the show with a partnership with business services company Mail Boxes, Etc. Film promotions can be a segway into other activity and it is interesting to see companies like Tefal engaging with movies. Deal terms can vary, but at a general level it is a good category to point to highlight the commercial value of strong IP.

Arthur Price was showcasing a range of Monsoon cutlery under the Monsoon Home brand.
Arthur Price was showcasing a range of Monsoon cutlery under the Monsoon Home brand.

Back on the show floor it was encouraging to see some solid examples of brand licensing.

Arthur Price was showcasing a range of Monsoon cutlery under the Monsoon Home brand. This was a really stylish range and was very distinctive. It stood apart from other collections in Arthur Price’s range and had a contemporary feel to it. I am guessing part of the rationale for developing a range with Monsoon is to help Arthur Price reach new consumers and new outlets. I am sure Monsoon is a brand that will also provoke new conversations in regards to consumer PR and, of course, works well on a social media.

Dutch licensee Wegter Consumerten BV had two Laura Ashley collections.
Dutch licensee Wegter Consumerten BV had two Laura Ashley collections.

Another brand that was featured prominently was Laura Ashley. Dutch licensee Wegter Consumerten BV was presenting two collections – Blueprint and Heritage – booth influenced by Laura Ashley’s design library and heritage. It has a multi-territory licence and I understand the brand works well internationally. I guess it is a solid brand that is a consistent performer and in some territories will hold an appeal based on its Britishness. The licensee has built quite a broad product range which will allow retailers to build islands of products and support the range in depth.

Captivate used the shows as an opportunity to launch a new range of Mary Berry homewares. Again there were two design offers, with one entitled The English Garden. This is linked to the fact that Mary Berry is an ambassador for the Royal Horticultural Society and features designs of plants, flowers and birds.

Given our work with Nadiya Hussain and BlissHome it is always interesting to see other personality brand ranges in the market. My view is that the presence of brands such as Mary Berry and Laura Ashley indicates that there is a real appeal and relevance to this style of licensing and product. A key point however is authenticity. I think personality licensing should always be backed up with authenticity – the personality needs to be able stand behind their product and be able to say that they have been directly involved in the development of the product.

The Nadiya doll was wearing her own version of Blisshome's Make Life Colourful aprons.
The Nadiya doll was wearing her own version of Blisshome's Make Life Colourful aprons.

Finally and returning to Nadiya. She sent out an Instagram post this week featuring a film of a gift she had received from a friend. Her friend had made Nadiya her very own doll. It is worth taking a look at it – the doll is fabulous and captures the spirit of Nadiya well.

Being a licensing lookout the thing that really caught my eye was the doll was wearing a doll sized version of one of BlissHome’s Nadiya Make Life Colourful aprons. Nadiya had chosen the colours and patterns for this range – the doll was a one off gift but it was a real reminder that in licensing attention to detail and authenticity can make a real difference. I would also urge toy companies to take a look at the film –  the Nadiya doll has wider appeal I think!

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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