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TOTAL LICENSING
You’ve acquired
a popular
character brand
with a lot of
unfulfilled
a year into new ownership
potential that
hasn’t been
Since Giles Andreae created him in The responses have already been used it had inherited. The company decided
researched or
1987, Ronnie’s insights have driven the to steer new product development. that two areas in particular needed
sales of tens of millions of greetings Then there was the published material its attention. Firstly it worked with
reviewed for a
cards and over 2.5 million books. - two decades of it. First Coolabi cata- existing licensees to coordinate ac-
long time.
All of which raises the question of logued the poems and illustrations. tivity and create cohesion across the
what Coolabi had identified as areas Then came the first-ever Purple Ron- whole range. The next move was to
You certainly
of expansion and improvement for nie style guide. This was necessary, as introduce new retail opportunities to
have a lot of
the character that it acquired from its Woodward explains, because, existing categories.
creator in April 2007. “Over the years individual One thing that Ronnie had not pre-
scope to improve
In fact, as Janet Wood- licensees had tended to viously done was to give his backing
brand awareness
ward, Head of Licens- ‘do their own thing’ with to a charity. This seemed a good way
but the one thing
ing for Coolabi says, Ronnie, result- to raise Ronnie’s profile, associate
you can’t change
the company felt that ing in a lack of him with worthy causes and, naturally,
is the character
the brand still had cohesion across do some good at the same time. The
unfulfilled potential, the product offering.” choice of charity was unusual but in
itself.
not only in licensing Again this was a re- fact inspired. Purple Ronnie is now an
areas but even in its fresh, not a revamp. ambassador for The Prostate Cancer
That was the
established markets of “When you take over Charity (PCC).
challenge facing
books and cards. She explained, “Ron- something which is such The association will invite licensees to
Coolabi when
nie’s continued success over 21 years a long-time favourite you partner with Ronnie and the PCC in
is an extraordinary feat. However don’t want to mess with it too much!” co-branding their products and rais-
they took on
Giles Andreae was handling a signifi- said Woodward. Firstly the logo was ing awareness of the most common
Purple Ronnie.
cant property on his own and there made easier to apply; Ronnie himself is cancer diagnosed in men in the UK.
were naturally limits to how much he now much more of a focal point with- Ronnie and the PCC will also focus
could grow and manage the brand. in the logo. After that Coolabi went on a co-ordinated approach to Fa-
Coolabi’s infrastructure and expertise back to basics and emphasised the ther’s Day.
meant we could expand from the base use of the combination of poem, font A lot has been done to refresh the
Giles passed to us and, by working and illustration which when combined Purple Ronnie brand in 12 months
closely with our licensees and retail- give Ronnie his USP. Finally, Ronnie’s – and it’s already paying off. Across the
ers, see major improvement in exist- signature colour had not been given board sales are up and in particular
ing categories”. as much prominence as one might what could be called the brand’s core
The method was not to recreate Pur- think. Next Coolabi looked at licens- license areas – books and greetings
ple Ronnie but to refresh him. ing. It worked on replacing licensees cards – have enjoyed a recent sales
Coolabi started by finding more out which were under-performing with surge. In fact, on and after Father’s
about Ronnie’s market and commis- leading manufacturers and expanding Day first Purple Ronnie’s Little Book
sioned a consumer research study. Ronnie’s licensing base, an effort that for a Smashing Dad and then Purple
paid off as Coolabi signed several new Ronnie’s Little Book for a Smashing
licenses: Portico signed for calendars, Grandad topped the Sunday Times
Greencore for cakes and Paul Lamond bestsellers. Pan Macmillan is planning
Games for party games. Finally, Cool- to bring out five new gift book titles
abi signed its first-ever US licensee, in the coming year, while Hallmark is
Andrews MacMeel, for gift books. working with Coolabi on a new greet-
“All of this was encouraging proof that ings card initiative.
our work on new categories was Of course the drive to extend the
bearing fruit,” says Woodward, Purple Ronnie brand into other cat-
“but when you take an established egories will continue with a wider
property to new markets it is also es- product offering planned for 2009,
sential not to overlook the needs of while the next 12 months will also see
the licensees that got him where he what Woodward calls “a brand new,
is today.” To avoid this, Coolabi took a all-singing, all-dancing Ronnie website”
close look at the licensing set-up that and a new Print-on-Demand service.
66
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