Magazine article Marketing

Helen Dickinson on Retail: License in Haste, Repent at Leisure

Magazine article Marketing

Helen Dickinson on Retail: License in Haste, Repent at Leisure

Article excerpt

If you have children, you cannot have failed to notice that shops have been selling Willy Wonka chocolate bars (produced by Nestle) to coincide with the release of the film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

It is the latest example of a tie-up that enables manufacturers to take advantage of blockbuster films, high-profile book launches or major sporting events for the promotion of products over a defined period, through a licensing arrangement.

Judging by the sales of the Wonka bars, they seem to work. They have been flying off retailers' shelves, with the Fudge-mallow Delight, Triple Dazzle Caramel and Nutty Crunch Surprise flavours all featuring in the top five confectionery products in the weeks immediately after their launch, according to ACNielsen.

This tie-up has had the advantage that the activity has been able to mirror the plot of the film, with Nestle hiding five golden tickets in bars, which also helped to boost sales.

Another licensing deal to appeal to kids, and no doubt some adults, is a range of Doctor Who toys, including a radio-controlled Dalek, which has been developed with the BBC and is hitting the shops now.

While such licensing deals involve products that are available through a variety of retail outlets, we are also seeing retailer-specific deals. A recent promotion involved Woolworths and Star Wars, which coincided with the release of Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.

Anyone buying pounds 10 worth of Star Wars merchandise received a video of the Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.

Whatever format these licensing deals take, it is vital that that there is a strong affinity between the parties involved. Without this, the rationale behind the deal is significantly diminished. Not only could it lead to a failure in achieving sales uplifts, but the brand equity of either party could also be damaged in the process.

It is for these very reasons that the intellectual property of Harry Potter has been licensed only for a few key products - such as the phenomenally successful Hogwarts Express train-set, manufactured under license by Hornby.

With tie-ups of this kind offering great potential to all parties, fuelled by our desire to go with the mood of the moment, their importance continues to grow. We will undoubtedly see an unprecedented level of activity ahead of the 2012 Olympics. For those manufacturers and retailers wishing to run promotional activities through licensing agreements with this mighty event there will surely be many opportunities. …

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