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Robyn Cowling, Brand Director for Rocky Horror Show at Golden Goose, discusses bringing the brand into sectors like beauty, bath and board games.
Robyn, it’s always great to catch up. To kick us off, for anyone unfamiliar with your role within Golden Goose, talk us through it.
I am the Brand Director, which covers licensing and retail for the fabulous and eccentric Rocky Horror Show brand.
Why did working on Rocky Horror Show appeal?
I’m a huge fan. I haven’t donned the outfits yet, but the night is young! We have big plans for our booth at BLE… I wouldn’t say no if there were some gold sequins knocking around!
“It’s the longest-running musical theatre show ever and it means a lot to a lot of people.”
Big plans for Rocky Horror on your BLE booth… Does that mean we should expect to see Golden Goose’s Adam Bass wearing fishnets?
That’s the dream, and it’s been suggested, but he remains uncommitted to that! But yes, I love Rocky Horror. I’ve never worked brand-side and Rocky Horror is really the only brand that could tempt me there. Adam and I had been chatting while I was at my previous role, so when things were winding down at Asgard, I wrote to Adam asking if he knew of any jobs and he said: “Would Rocky Horror pique your interest?” And it did!
Where did your love for the brand come from?
Well, I have very liberal parents. I made my dad take me to see it in Woking for my 13th birthday. Then at my 14th birthday party we watched Rocky Horror Picture Show. I watched it again recently, before I took this role, and I was surprised how much of the script was tattooed in my memory – I remembered every word and song! It went totally over my head that it was about gender or sex, as a, frankly, heteronormative boring white chick from Surrey!
It just goes to show it isn’t all about that, but it resonates with people in different ways. For me, I loved the music, I loved the party-loving atmosphere and being whoever you wanted to be. So when the opportunity came up to work on, I thought: ‘It doesn’t sound like a job!’ and I was right – it is a joy to be working on Rocky Horror becoming a cool consumer products program.
What are some of the blessings of working with a property that has the kind of passionate, cult following that Rocky Horror Show does?
It has a lot of depth and means something unique to everyone. As I said, for me it was about the music, fashion and lifestyle. For people who were trying to work out their identity, at whatever age, it was a bit of a home for them. When I went to see it in June, I took along some potential clients and it was like I’d paid the audience – they were perfect. There was everyone from 20 year old drama students to 60 year olds in fishnets…
It’s been touring for 50 years and there are fans that have been living and breathing it their whole lives. It’s the longest-running musical theatre show ever and it means a lot to a lot of people.
Better than that, each generation of teenagers discovers it and the message resonates with them like it’s the first time the story has ever been told. We now live in a Rocky Horror world – everybody knows somebody who they don’t know is a Rocky Horror fan.
“All the successful partnerships that we’ve signed so far started with: ‘Oh my God; I love Rocky Horror!’”
What are your hopes for the brand?
I want to make it relevant. For me, it’s not good enough to rely solely on all that wonderful heritage. I want to make sure we’re engaging with the new audience as well. Rocky Horror is a great vehicle for what is considered a modern message about being yourself. It’s about sex and gender – but it isn’t, because it’s about not labelling things. It’s about doing whatever feels good to you, whether that’s wearing fishnets or a tartan blanket or whatever. It’s a good vehicle for those retail partners who want to align themselves with this message but feel it’s a bit of a minefield.
Absolutely. And what areas do you want to bring the brand into?
We’re having some meaningful conversations with a prevalent body and beauty company. Think nail varnish, cosmetics, bath accessories… We have Smiffys doing dress-up, which looks amazing and launches at Halloween. We have tonnes of t-shirt partners all doing completely different things for their demographic. We have Dark Horse working on a great story arc for a graphic novel. I’m talking to underwear companies, loungewear companies, gifting, jewellery… We’ve got a cool board game with University Games which is coming out in Q4. We’re also in advanced talks with mobile games companies… There’s so much to be done!
All the successful partnerships that we’ve signed so far started with “Oh my God; I love Rocky Horror!” They know it and love it before they start working on it – and that’s a great way to do it right. It’s emotive, engaging and our licensees are having fun harnessing that feeling.
Robyn, this has been great. If anyone is interesting in working with you on Rocky Horror products, how can they reach out?
I’ll be at Autumn Fair and we’ll also be at BLE at stand D254; that’s the best place to catch us. Or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s such a passion of mine that it’s always nice to have these chats face-to-face!
BLE, stand D254… For those unfamiliar with the floor plan, just take a jump to the left, and a step to the right – you can’t miss it! Thanks again Robyn!
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