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TOTAL LICENSING
Opinion
Once upon a time...
When most of the readers of this give them an obvious appeal to young
…a children’s magazine were young – and, by defi- adult women. Well, it seems obvious
brand would
nition, the licensing industry was in now. Like a lot of these developments,
never have been
its infancy too – brands tended to be the arrival of unofficial merchandise
marketed to
locked into their primary or core tar- in apparel form indicated that a new
get markets. market existed before quality product
adults.
And often those markets had a limited stepped in to fill the gap.
choice at retail. For instance, the mod- A third example comes from my own
Today, assessing and
est licensed selection available to fans experience. When I was asked to li-
addressing the
of the glove puppets Sooty and Sweep cense the Moomins in the UK market,
appeal of a kid’s
in the 1960s would in all likelihood I was, of course, delighted. This is a
have been headed by, well, glove pup- brand that offers a genuine originality
character to
pets. Today, a child can expect to see of concept and design, combined with
grown-ups is an its favourite character on everything an enduring appeal that has kept the
important part of
from duvets to memory sticks. Moomins popular and relevant from
what we do.
Nor was there a great deal of seg- their inception in 1940s Scandinavia
menting of markets. to today, when they are recognised in
Today, however, even preschool is dozens of countries worldwide. Chil-
It’s proof, says
subdivided so that properties like Tel- dren in particular respond favourably
Caroline Mickler, of etubbies and In the Night Garden are to the charming, big-eyed, kindly trolls
how flexible,
geared to the birth-to-three-year-old – which is why plans are now well ad-
tively short time. Once a children’s
adaptive and
market while Grandpa in my Pocket vanced to adapt that appeal to pub-
character would have been marketed
focused the modern
– also originating on CBeebies - has a lishing, apparel and other categories.
solely to children, even if unlicensed
core target market of four-to-six year But the Moomins charm also includes
merchandise dropped a very large
licensing business
olds. a slightly bohemian, laid-back feel that,
hint that another market existed.
has become. But licensing of children’s characters I knew, adults enjoy.
Today our minds are open to many
has more recently had to react to a Adults also seem to respond to the
more possibilities and that approach
new phenomenon. Often, through ei- characters’
is clearly beneficial
ther genuine insight or happy accident, friendliness,
– and not just to
we become aware that a character generosity
us. Yes it’s great to
with a primary market of children has of spirit and
be able to enhance
developed a secondary one among cuddly appearance.
a brand’s reach at retail
adults – and often for But was this an ad-
but addressing adults who
very different rea- dressable market and,
appreciate a brand not ini-
sons, depending if so, did one segment
tially aimed at them is also
on the character. dominate?
appreciated by those con-
Take Sponge- Research answered
sumers, who don’t like being
Bob Squarepants. both questions. There
ignored or forced to buy tat
He’s a charm- is an ‘ahhh’ factor to the
because no official product
ing, lovable and Moomins, which, com-
exists.
slightly hapless figure bined with their loveable
And yes, it’s a challenge man-
to his pre-school and eccentricity and positive
aging a children’s character that
tween fans. To teens and outlook, makes them enormously ap-
builds a significant following in an adult
young adults, however, pealing not just to small children but
market – and ensuring in particular
he is quirky, left-field and to another market: young women.
that both audiences are correctly ad-
just a little bit subversive. Clearly this market is sizeable and
dressed but never feel they are taken
And that market loves needs to be addressed.
for granted. But if you enjoy working
the idea of SpongeBob- But clearly it is unlikely to want spelling
in this industry that is a challenge you
branded electric guitars. books, which is why I am now work-
should welcome.
The Powerpuff Girls are a ing on two distinct Moomin licens-
Modern licensing has been successful
slightly different but equally ing campaigns: one for the preschool
because it has become flexible, adap-
relevant case in point. Their market and another directed at young
tive and focused.
younger fans see them as female adults.
And it’s just as well. Otherwise we
feisty, witty and brave. But And that shows us just how far the
would never have got beyond glove
exactly the same qualities licensing business has come in a rela-
puppets.
182
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