Report – Is your IP Ready for Licensing?
A successful licensing programme can deliver significant revenues and marketing eyeballs for your brand. This session shared valuable insights into what licensing partners are looking for before they will commit to supporting your IP in the consumer goods business
- Licensed product represents a great opportunity to extend marketing, brand and revenues
- Children and parents will pay a premium for branded product, and retailers see value in this
- Great characters and story lines are the foundations for licensed product success
Ryan Beaird is Marketing and Operations Manager LIMA, representing the trade association for companies actively engaged in kids’ TV brand licensing. He started the session by introducing LIMA – the Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association – and how licensing works. He explained the value to kids who like to buy the brands they love, and to retailers who like to charge a premium. Licensing deals are done through a mix of relationship building and negotiation, and legal and implementation disciplines. He shared an example of a Rovio-style guide produced by PowerStation Studios, outlined some of the dynamics of a licensing negotiation, and some challenges including creating a product that kids liked, and the costs of production.
Eloise Kurtis, Licensing Manager, Inbound Licensing, LEGO, and responsible for long-term licensing partnerships such as Star Wars and Batman, introduced LEGO as currently the biggest toy company in the world, and explained Lego’s approach structured around inbound development, content development and content distribution. LEGO’s IPs include the well-recognised theatrical brands Star Wars, Batman and Jurassic World, plus a range of TV (such as The Simpsons), gaming (Minecraft), and ‘beyond core’ including books, fan-based, and video games. LEGO will only consider brands that are global, fit the LEGO brand (not 50 Shades!) and are well established with the children’s audience. LEGO’s development process at two years is longer than most given the amount of work that goes into it.
Johanne Broadfield is VP Cartoon Network Enterprises EMEA, Turner–Cartoon Network, and responsible for development of licensing and brand extension strategies for IP such as Ben 10 and Powerpuff Girls. Johanne talked about the ‘dark arts of toymaking’ and highlighted the need to develop for different age groups, and understand the different needs of boys and girls. Ben 10 product will include some of the things they love – conflict, battling, transformations – while girls’ products, such as Powerpuff, will be more fashion slanted. Some products will be aimed at adults, like Powerpuff Fashion products for Millennial Mums who knew the brand from their childhood.
Justin McGiffin is Licensing Director Global Hardlines, Rovio Entertainment, and leads the Licensing Strategy for Angry Birds. Justin talked about some of the cultural considerations, and how Angry Birds achieved success in China in part because of the main character’s red colour resonating with the importance of the colour in China. Yet the reverse can be true, where in the Middle East the use of certain animals in Angry Birds doesn’t fit culturally.
The audience asked the panel if there was a trend towards less gender specific product. Eloise agreed there was a trend in that direction, yet cited the success of Lego Friends as evidence that children still wanted gender specific toys. Johanne reinforced this, seeing very different play patterns between boys and girls; it’s dangerous to put IP into a gender specific box, but if you want to achieve volumes it’s essential to make sure the toys themselves fit these play patterns.
Justin added that fitting retailer gender segments is important too; if you sit outside these you lessen your chances of preferred shelf position.
And on the question of should IP developers consider licensed product when developing shows, the panel agreed that just concentrating on developing great stories and characters was important, and not to be distracted by product.
This session acted as a great introduction to licensing, as well as including some good tips for those already in licensing from experienced practitioners.
By guest blogger Craig Hill
Marketing & Operations Manager
Turner – Cartoon Network
VP, Cartoon Network Enterprises EMEA
Licensing Manager, Inbound Licensing
Licensing Director Global Hardlines
Marketing & Operations Manager
FremantleMedia Kids & Family Entertainment
SVP Global Brand Management