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“I’ve seen the benefit that licensing can bring to brands”

Banijay Brands’ Jane Smith talks building consumer engagement, Peaky Blinders, MasterChef and adapting for the future.

“The brand business is robust, it’s not going anywhere; people want that” – this was one of the key points made by Jane Smith, group director brand licensing at Banijay/Endemol Shine during yesterday’s keynote at Festival of Licensing (October 8).

Speaking to Ben Roberts, content editor UK and EMEA at License Global, Jane covered topics including how to build consumer engagement with brands, the growing licensing programmes for MasterChef, Peaky Blinders and Simon’s Cat among others, plus how the new-look Banijay Brands is adapting to the future.

“My background is in the kids business, and in that you can’t help but be immersed in brands from the beginning; you can see the power of them,” Jane commented. “I’ve seen the benefit that licensing can bring to brands and the deeper engagement it gives people with what they’re watching. But there’s no magic formula!”

Banijay is a collective of 120 production companies across markets and has 88,000 hours of content, but Jane stressed that not every single piece of content should become a brand and that licensing only really works if you’re authentic with the product.

Authenticity and engagement are the key words for us,” she explained.

In the UK marketplace, there are around 12 brands which are up and running in the licensing space and all moving at different points for Banijay/Endemol Shine. Looking at the wider Banijay catalogue, Jane believes there is “quite a lot” the licensing team can do with it, while she is also talking to the team at Zodiak Kids about what can also be done there.

“There is a whole heap of ways we can help on the kids side,” she said. “I’m really keen to unlock that side of the business, as we don’t really have kids in the Endemol Shine portfolio.”

Ready Steady Cook is also back, and Jane believes it is the perfect time for the brand: “The time for it now is so fantastic – it has sustainability at its heart, the food is sourcing locally, it’s cooking on a budget… there are great product opportunities for us. Ready Steady Cook wasn’t on my radar a year ago, yet here we are bringing it back.”

Understandably, the impact of the pandemic means that the team now needs to think differently.

“We’re even more aware of who we partner with now,” continued Jane. “Consumers are making different choices now, retail is probably changed forever and the online model is here to stay. Any partner we work with now has to have an ecommerce strategy.

“You need to know what the market wants and represent the brand in the best possible way with what you’re offering. Listen to what people want, get smarter and adapt and evolve. But the brand business is robust, it’s not going anywhere.”

Jane and her team are busy integrating the Endemol Shine and Banijay portfolios, and she certainly sees more local opportunities going forward.

“It’s exciting to be able to grow from what we have already,” she concluded. “Ecommerce is a massive focus and watch this space for food. The future is definitely, definitely bright for Banijay Brands for sure.”

Festival of Licensing runs until October 29. It’s easy to register – simply head to www.festivaloflicensing.com.

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