We chat to Haynes Publishing’s Iain Wakefield about The Bluffer’s Guides and licensing.
The Bluffer’s Guides have been around for a very long time and enjoyed enormous publishing success. Why is now a good time to take them into licensing?
Iain Wakefield, brand licensing and licensed publishing manager, Haynes Publishing: There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, Haynes has totally refreshed the brand and the format of the books, with the aim of making them much more visible in the marketplace. The book covers are now in a range of very vibrant colours and all feature not just a striking cover design but a recognisable character: our brand-new cartoon Bluffer.
But, importantly, we’re not starting from scratch. Bluffer’s is a very strong brand, with wonderful content and a simple but effective USP: it is based on witty, pocket-sized manuals that aim to bring a novice up to scratch on a number of topics. This is also a long-term commitment, which will see 12-15 new titles added to the existing 16 every year, each written by an expert in his or her field. Finally, Haynes has enjoyed so much success with its own licensing programme over the past 12 years that, having relaunched them as a Haynes imprint, the obvious next move for us was to promote the Bluffer’s Guides as a great brand for licensing. This is the right brand in the right place at the right time.
Why Haynes? What made your publishing brand ideal for the Guides?
Haynes is all about information. The Haynes Manuals, for example, are famous all over the world for explaining a huge range of subjects. We have also had enormous success with the more light-hearted approach to information of our Haynes Explains series of gift books. Bluffer’s follows on from, and complements, both titles – not least because the Bluffer’s Guides intelligently and humorously explain myriad subjects, enabling the reader to become extremely well versed in a subject extremely quickly. And of course the writing and content is brilliant – making the information easily digestible, entertaining, and, most importantly, memorable. The Guides are exceptionally well suited to Haynes – and vice versa.
How would you describe the resources the Guides offer to licensors?
Bluffer’s offers licensors a very well recognised brand together with fabulous content. Both of these resources can be used in a whole variety of creative ways on products and packaging.
Humour is a strong part of the Bluffer’s Guides offer. How does that translate into distinctive licensed products?
The Bluffer’s Guides are indeed very funny, which means that there is plenty of humorous material which can be incorporated into product – and not just verbal material. We also have our new cartoon ‘Bluffer’, who is very versatile and who appears on the covers of all the books. All of this makes for a very strong and inspirational combination of humorous resources.
The Guides offer both brand and subject-led opportunities (like dogs, beer, golf or opera). How will you bring these strands together?
We plan to be very flexible. We are certainly interested in developing products around successful titles and subjects, but we will also encourage licensees to have fun with the Bluffer’s Guides within their own product categories.
Why do you think the Guides have sustained their appeal? Are they in some ways even more relevant than before? How?
They are wonderful books, written by brilliant authors, published under an enduring and recognisable brand. And both the pre-existing titles and the dozen or so new ones planned for launch every year are highly relevant, offering humorous and informative guides to subjects new and old that fascinate or perplex many people – everything from dogs, opera and cricket to social media, management and wine. In fact, the very first new title, The Bluffer’s Guide to Brexit, is probably one of the most relevant and useful books of the year!
What would you most like to achieve in the licensing business – both short term and long-term?
We would like to create a range of complementary product which helps reinforce the Bluffer’s brand, with humour and creativity. Bluffer’s has been around for over 40 years and has finally found a home with a publishing house that can offer strong support for a licensing programme. I am certain it has an exciting future.
Could you give us a brief recap of recent licensing activity?
Not yet. This licensing campaign is a very new one – although it’s attracting a lot of interest already. In other words, watch this space.