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How The Smurfs share core values with the Scouts… And what David Peña looks for in a brand partner
David, it was a pleasure to meet you at BLE last year. Tell me, what’s your background?
Thanks for visiting our stand! My background… I studied Business Management at uni and have been working in different positions in the retail sector for over 15 years now. When I joined the Scouts, one of my tasks was looking after their – then small – licensing program. The program has been growing ever since, thus requiring more and more attention over the years.
And for those that don’t know the Scouts – which, in the UK, can’t be many – what are they all about?
The Scouts are a charitable youth organisation with over 100 years of history. They actively engage and support young people in their personal development, empowering them to make a positive contribution to society. It’s fair to say the Scouts are one of the most important non-formal education organisations both in the UK and in the world.
Here at Scout Store, we’re the dedicated and official uniform retailer for our various sections: Squirrels, Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, Explorers and Network. We complement this with a full range of casual clothing, accessories, gifts, and outdoor equipment.
Right; quite a diverse range… And this is why I was curious when we met! It seems to me you must always be looking for very specific brand partners. What qualities do you look for?
First and foremost, we look for brands that share our core values, among others: care, respect, integrity or cooperation for example. From a commercial point of view, we obviously look for brands that could bring substantial financial return on investment but are, at the same time, relevant to our customers. As a licensee, it’s a must for us that the property could be bespoke or ‘Scoutised’ in a minimum way.
“From a commercial point of view, we obviously look for brands that could bring substantial financial return on investment…”
Scoutised! Lovely. And how might a brand Scoutise their IP?
Either by incorporating some distinctive Scout attributes, uniform, activity or by situating it in a ‘Scoutie’ environment. We believe this increases the emotional connection between the property and the customer who can easily relate to the product. From a licensor point of view, what we look for is a partner that will be really positive with us engaging with their brand to develop unique products that will be very relevant to our customers.
And in that respect you’ve had a couple of very interesting arrangements. Tell me about The Smurfs!
Well, it all started a few years ago with a drawing made by Robert, one of our staff members. We then approached The Smurfs with the project to create a range of products around a Scout Smurf. They were really supportive and they instantly saw the potential of it.
That seems like a very natural fit – it’s easy to imagine a Scout Smurf…
Right… Fast forward to today, and we’re now launching our fourth Scout Smurf collection. Each one has a unique, bespoke design – and we couldn’t be more satisfied with how the joint collections have been the received by our customers.
Great example, thank you. The Smurfs aren’t the only much-loved characters you’re involved with though, are they? You also have a partnership with Shaun the Sheep at Aardman. How did that come about?
After witnessing the success with The Smurfs, the natural progression was to find a similar intellectual property… Our aim was to reach our younger audience as this range launch was coinciding with the launch of a new section at the Scouts, the Squirrels.
And the Squirrels are for which age group?
The Squirrels is for 4-5 years old. It was almost obvious to make the connection… Shaun the Sheep looks great with a Scout scarf on!
Doesn’t he just! Let me ask you this, then: what do they have in common? What are The Smurfs and Shaun the Sheep helping you do?
Both companies share our values and, aside from this important factor, both owners could clearly see the benefit of our approach to their intellectual properties. Scouts are no different from other customers: they like cartoons and all the related products. What we do is making sure the customer sees the intellectual property in an environment linked to their Scouting life, thus enhancing the connection with the brand.
To that end, what other brand partners do you have?
We’re partners with the Ministry of Defence, Sanrio – Hello Kitty – and the Royal British Legion.
The Royal British Legion? Again, I can see that: that feels very organic. Tell us a bit about that…
Our partnership with RBL has been fantastic so far… It’s enabled us to collaborate and create a dual-branded range of products to commemorate Remembrance Day while raising funds for both charities.
“No matter if your company is big or small, all ideas are welcome.”
Very effective; a very natural partnership. And David, if people want to approach you about working with the Scouts, what would they need to do?
Just reach us via social media or drop us an email. You can also reach us via LinkedIn. No matter if your company is big or small, all ideas are welcome.
Great stuff! What’s next for you?
The licensing side of the business is rapidly developing for us and we have big plans for the future – especially in the digital and media sectors. Just watch this space!
Well, I certainly will do that. And please do come back and keep us posted, won’t you? Meanwhile, what’s the one question I should’ve asked you in this conversation but didn’t?
If the Scouts are also a licensor…
And are the Scouts also a licensor?
Yes, we are licensors, too. We license the Scout brands and logos to companies. Our ‘Scout Seal of Approval’ program is attracting a lot of interest from companies, especially in the outdoor and educational sectors.
Brilliant stuff! Thank you, David, for making time to speak with us. Let’s tie in again soon.
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