Bulldog Licensing – building brands from toys – ToyNews
After years of toys and games being a key category of licensed products, Bulldog Licensing has established an alternative model for the licensing industry since 2008, establishing toy brands as successful licensors and creating extensive programs of consumer products based on them. Kiran Grewal spoke with MD Rob Corney to find out more.
The first major toy brand Bulldog Licensing brought to market was the Gogo’s Crazy Bones property in 2008. Since then, the agency has continued to create consumer merchandise programs based on a wide range of toy brands, from Shopkins at Kindi Kids. , and more recently launched a licensing program for the hottest new toy on the market, Magic Mixies.
Rob Corney, MD, Bulldog Licensing, explains, “Bulldog has some of the largest toy licensing programs in the industry. From Gogo’s Crazy Bones, which broke new ground by proving that a small, media-free collectible could drive a chart-topping licensing program, to Shopkins, which has dominated the girls’ business in every major licensed industry for years, Bulldog has become the home of the big brands in this field.”
Together with licensor Magic Box in 2008, Bulldog represented the worldwide rights to Gogo’s Crazy Bones, which grew from a series of collectible mini-figures to become one of the biggest licensed brands in the world, ending second in LIMA’s License of the Year program. in 2009.
Rob continues: “The difference for us was taking a property (pre-digital mass media era) off the shelves and creating a character brand from its assets. Realizing that brand presence in POS across the entire toy and CTN/kiosk market equated to huge brand visibility, we flipped the metrics. Instead of launching a brand based on the number of on-screen viewers, we based our presentation on retail visibility and worked with the licensor to develop character personalities and designs around the characters that had the most impact. importance in advertisements and packaging.
It was a new take on the market whose currency, at the time, was largely based on TV statistics. Despite some initial industry hesitation, Bulldog made Gogo’s Crazy Bones Licensing Program a huge success and rose to the top of the charts in categories as diverse as apparel, publishing, rolling toys and confectionery.
“The program provided one of the most powerful retail properties of its time,” says Rob, “and paved the way for the future of toy and collectibles licensing worldwide. “
14 years later, and the licensing of toy properties has changed dramatically. The advent of YouTube and social media platforms has allowed toy properties to react quickly to market demands and develop brand features and attributes almost instantaneously, allowing them to create brands that can then be licensed.
Rob continues, “Major toy companies are now bringing properties to market with a whole universe of personality and character interaction built into the concept. The success of toy licensing is now made possible by the repositioning of toy companies to become brand owners – they are no longer just conceptualizing a great play product, but rather a whole world of complementary assets for entertain the public in all areas.
With its past experience licensing toy brands, Bulldog has earned a reputation for choosing properties that really work outside of its core competencies. Rob continues, “Having great licensors is essential for all brands, but never more so than for toy licensing. Working with Moose really demonstrated the breadth of opportunity possible when a truly creative company has a big market presence.
“Moose Toys’ ability to engage consumers through truly amazing products such as Magic Mixies, opens up exciting new worlds for consumers, which are then enhanced through content and an innovation pipeline, enabling licensees to bring brand values and characters into new worlds of entertainment and enhance enjoyment in all relevant product areas.”
However, a caveat is in order. Not all toy properties work when it comes to running a licensing program. Rob thinks there are key factors that ensuring that a mark is suitable for a licensing purpose. The first is the brand motto. “Reach is crucial – the scale of audience a brand can reach is vital, but reach isn’t everything,” says Rob. “If it did, there would be huge licensing programs behind BBC Breakfast.
“The ability to entertain the public is at the heart of any licensed brand – toy or otherwise. We ask the end consumer to take a social risk, to literally wear the brand we represent on their sleeve: tell their friends that they belongs to the group of people who think x is awesome, so we need to make sure it’s awesome to reduce the social risk of their decision.
Scalability is also imperative. If a property is only relevant in a few areas, it is unlikely to function as a licensed trademark.
As with any brand considered for licensing, toy brands must meet a number of other criteria including time to market, product line, where the retail is located, what is their competition And much more. Rob explains his selection process: “At Bulldog, we survey each branding opportunity with 37 questions before determining whether or not it should be in our portfolio. It’s hard to get into our agency, and it should be.
“Licensees, retailers and consumers should be aware that the brand representative has taken on this role of ensuring that a mark is fit for purpose before it is ever presented and that it is not is not simply thrown into the market in the hope that something might stick. This is true for all brands, including toys. Toy brands that have been successful in licensing have displayed these key principles behind successful licensing across all categories. The key is to understand these metrics and know where to find them (and where not!).
Looking ahead, Bulldog has another key toy brand ready for the licensing arena in 2022. Rob explains, “Together with Moose Toys, Bulldog is once again building one of the most exciting programs for the new brand, Magic Mixies. Already delivering staggering sales, Magic Mixies was the must-have Christmas toy for 2021 and has incredible brand development plans for 2022 and beyond.
“Mixies has the opportunity to dominate the licensed toy brand charts and, having launched the opportunity at BLE ’21, we are already securing deals in all key categories with retail driving demand.”
This feature appeared in the January/February issue of ToyNews. Read it here.