“The strength of our IP has allowed us to weather the storm”

LicensingSource catches up with Banijay Brands’ Jane Smith to talk MasterChef, Peaky Blinders, strong IP and what it’s serving up for 2021.

“The strength of our IP has allowed us to weather the storm,” begins Jane Smith, group director, brand licensing at Banijay Brands. “The pandemic has changed the industry, but this business is adaptable, and we are seeing a new retail landscape emerge.”

Banijay Brands – which was officially formed in September 2020, following the completion of the acquisition of Endemol Shine Group in the summer – has an enviable roster, with Jane saying that she is “incredibly proud of the resilience of our brand portfolio”.

2020 saw a number of highlights, as she explains: “The launch of a Peaky Blinders wine with Maison Bardet, maintaining a strong MasterChef loyalty business with TCC in the grocers, expanding our ecommerce business with the MasterChef finalist Claire Fyfe product range, successful Simon’s Cat plush launches and the debut of a Peaky Blinders branded store on Amazon were all significant achievements.”

And this is just a fraction of the activity which happened across the portfolio last year, with 2020 also including the 30th anniversary of Mr Bean, a sell-out pet product range in the US and across 16 markets with Lidl for Simon’s Cat, plus growth for MasterChef across various categories and territories.

The MasterChef brand saw growth across various categories and territories last year.
The MasterChef brand saw growth across various categories and territories last year.

2021 will see Banijay looking to engage with potential commercial partners to identify the right brand for promotions and branded content deals, as well as continuing to adapt to the new retail landscape and seeing more focus on sustainability.

When it comes to IP, there are plans afoot for all those already mentioned, while the company is also starting to look at what it could do with the Banijay IP such as Survivor, Temptation Island, The Inbetweeners, Crystal Maze, Tipping Point and the Zodiak Kids portfolio.

Jane confirms that numerous discussions on cookware and food products are taking place for Ready, Steady, Cook, while there are also opportunities in the lifestyle space for Your Home Made Perfect and Your Garden Made Perfect.

Opportunities are being explored for Survivor.
Opportunities are being explored for Survivor.

Jane adds: “There is an amazing pipeline of content from almost 30 production companies in the UK so watch this space for more IP.”

However, Jane admits that continued uncertainty is impacting everything for the whole industry, from store openings and travel to product manufacturing and shipping. “It’s very tough for the recovering retail sector as they work to acclimatise to change in consumer buying from brand choice to online habits. As an industry we need to adapt and be flexible, smaller businesses will need continued support to survive and we need to take a longer term outlook.”

Jane points out that the strength of brands will not change, but rather how the industry brings them to market. “It’s important we continue to leverage the power of entertainment brands by experimenting, using data and adapting to different ways of consumer engagement, whether physical or online,” she says. “To build business, close collaboration with licensees and retail commerce partners is key. Partnerships are so important; all parties must align on the goals and outcome to create 360 licensing programmes.”

A Simon's Cat range in Teespring saw huge social engagement.
A Simon's Cat range in Teespring saw huge social engagement.

Jane has some clear goals for what she would like to achieve in 2021, from a business and personal ambition point of view. “Working with our colleagues in local markets, to successfully launch new IP and for our existing brands to cement their presence in retail, basically to broaden our global footprint both in physical distribution and online,” she offers.

And personally? “To see a MasterChef food range and a cooking school offering of some kind in multiple markets; for Peaky Blinders to celebrate the end of this series with a bang; for Simon’s Cat to grow into a mass market pet brand; for Mr Bean to keep everyone laughing; for us to enter the kids’ world with the amazing series from Zodiak Kids and for Survivor to replicate its on-air success with innovative off air licensing programmes – so a busy year!”

Ultimately, the goal is about stretching and expanding the portfolio in the right way off-air to give consumers a deeper engagement with brands to build trust and create longevity in multiple markets.

“Working in partnership with our content creators to reach new audiences across all platforms and outlets with innovative products is at the heart of Banijay Brands,” Jane concludes.

Banijay Brands expanded its ecommerce business with a product range from MasterChef finalist, Claire Fyfe.
Banijay Brands expanded its ecommerce business with a product range from MasterChef finalist, Claire Fyfe.

Getting social

“The best way to match product offerings with target consumers is through a combination of content channels such as YouTube, brand websites and social channels,” explains Jane. “Simon’s Cat on Teespring saw huge social engagement, as did the Peaky Blinders print on demand webstore, driving sales.”

Mainstream talent, as well as influencers, is increasingly important, especially in the area if ecommerce where social channels are a key element of consumer engagement, Jane adds.

“This area will continue to expand, with growing marketing spend allocated to influencers and talent in this space. Our deal with MasterChef finalist Claire Fyfe and her range of products based on designs of her favourite foods is a great example of how we look for opportunities to partner on-screen faces with creative consumer offerings.”

(Main image: The launch of Peaky Blinders wine with Maison Bardet was a highlight from 2020.)

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