The Licensing Lookout: The big freeze

Start Licensing’s Ian Downes spots ways in which Disney’s Frozen 2 is taking over the high street.

As reported earlier this week, you can get Frozen at Iceland. Iceland the retailer is working together with Disney around the release of Frozen 2.

Iceland is featuring Frozen 2 in its windows and TV ad spots.
Iceland is featuring Frozen 2 in its windows and TV ad spots.

Iceland is not entirely new to licensing. I remember travelling up to Deeside 25 years ago or so to discuss what would be called a Direct to Retail now. More recently it has successfully launched ranges in partnership with Greggs, Slimming World and Gino D’Acampo. It seems to be a retailer that is very focused and sure of itself. So it is encouraging to see it turning to character licensing in such an in depth fashion.

I believe there is a TV commercial running. I have yet to see this but I guess this was an important part of the deal for both parties. Beyond the convenient name association for both parties, a partnership of this kind has to function more deeply.

For Iceland it gives it a compelling seasonal theme and a way of engaging with customers in a fresh way – Frozen is a good fit for Iceland with a resonance among families across generations in family groups. For Disney, it is a high street presence for its film with window posters and a chance to link with other suppliers which deal with Iceland.

Brands such as Kellogg’s and Warburtons are running Frozen products at the moment. Warburtons product is being sold in branded FSDUs and it has amended its own branding to embrace the film by temporarily re-branding to ‘Warbrrrtons’. Here I think the link to Frozen helps Warburtons stand out in-store and creates a dialogue with consumers which isn’t just about price. Warburtons has run a lot of high profile advertising campaigns recently which have fun at their core and are ones that will be talked about. Linking with Frozen adds to the fun and helps build a rapport with consumers.

A category like bakery is ultra competitive and Warburtons is finding new ways to stand out.

Iceland is also stocking a full range of Frozen... erm, well, frozen products.
Iceland is also stocking a full range of Frozen... erm, well, frozen products.

Iceland itself has taken the partnership beyond a promotional one by creating a whole range of Frozen, erm… frozen products targeting families with children. Products on offer include Olaf shaped noses and icicle lollies. There are about six or seven individual product lines in the range which are all own brand lines I believe.

Iceland is really backing the brand and I wonder if it is planning for some of these lines to outlast the film and become permanently ranged products. I can see the range appealing to families and also working well in party season.

I also made quick visits to Tesco and Sainsbury’s stores this week, primarily to look at their food gifting and general Christmas gifting offers. I am aware that I don’t always see the whole store and range, but in both cases I thought there was less licensing on show. I guess this might be driven by retailers playing safe and also protecting their margin.

I also think, in seasonal categories like these, buying decisions are being made later which counts against licensing in regards to approvals. A point here is that this is an area of licensing that could be worked on – quicker approval turnarounds should result in more take up especially by time pressed companies.

A Reese's Pieces chocolate and mug set was one of the food gifting lines on show.
A Reese's Pieces chocolate and mug set was one of the food gifting lines on show.

A few of the highlights among the licensed products on show included a Reese’s Pieces chocolate and mug set. A good indicator of the growing importance of US brands in categories like confectionery. A Volkswagen travel mug also caught my eye: confirmation that brands can work in the seasonal category and that it is sensible to bring a brand’s heritage to bear in product design terms.

Another recurring theme at retail were advent calendars which include a gift per day. Toy companies like Playmobil have tapped into this. I thought Topps Match Attax Advent Calendar was a very good idea and was well presented at retail in a FSDUs. More retailers seem to be using FSDUs and displays to drive more sales. There is always a balance with this kind of thing. It would be easy to end up with a cluttered store, but used sensibly branded FSDUs can help drive sales.

The value of books is reinforced when used as a gift with purchase.
The value of books is reinforced when used as a gift with purchase.

Finally, I thought it was good to see a book being used as a gift with purchase this week; reinforcing the value of books.

In this case a free Spider-man book from DK was being given away with a Spider-man Blu-ray and DVD. As someone who worked in publishing it is good to see books being used in this way and a value being placed on a book.

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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