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We asked figures in the licensing industry for their favourite launches of the year. The only caveat… They couldn’t choose a product or experience they were involved in!
Here’s what they picked….
James Oddy, Co-Founder, Vize Creative
The digital experiential exhibition of Frida Kahlo: The Life of an Icon was amazing. It toured Europe earlier this year and is an amazing example of a brand extension; the best we’ve seen in a long time.
Max Arguile, Owner, Reemsborko
It would have to be the Peaky Blinders: The Rise by Immersive Everywhere. I felt like it would be difficult to deliver with none of the actual cast and in a live setting, but by the end, I realised it had been both entertaining and engaging. The cast were so dedicated and never broke character while interacting with the audience – and each other – that I was in that world. The script and plot worked well, while also having to be fluid enough to go with multiple options along the way. A lot of fun.
Sophie Bloomfield, Creative Director, SBC
I have a few! I loved the Hot Ones x Pringles collaboration as it makes perfect sense. For co-branded products, it needs to be balanced and benefit both brands and with this project, it’s clear it does. Elsewhere, Spreadshirt’s Stranger Things collection was great. As a print on demand licensee, Spreadshirt has the nimbleness to jump on a trend quickly. This mixed with super talented illustrators resulted in a super collection of apparel and accessories. Other highlights included The MET x Pacsun range brokered by Beanstalk. This is the ultimate cool in lifestyle art licensing. This range is fashion goals and hits every mark it needs to… Great work by Beanstalk! Finally, I have to mention CAMP’s Encanto experience. I love their whole concept – it allows the child to step into their favourite movie or story, which is truly thrilling. They are the leaders in brand extension.
Ian Downes, Start Licensing
I would nominate a whole programme – the Emma Bridgewater licensing programme. My understanding is that the product range we see in the market blends products created in-house with a range of licensed products, which include the likes of greetings cards through to items like Roberts ‘vintage style’ radios. I think the design – old and new – across the range is always consistent and ‘on brand’. The Emma Bridgewater brand, artwork and style is recognisable and it displays well at retail… The likes of John Lewis have really eye-catching displays, while independents like Between the Lines feature products like Woodmansterne’s greetings cards to good effect. I also like how the brand creates and curates design collaborations with charities and how they tap into events that pique consumers’ interests. It’s a brand that’s very well managed and is one that adds colour to the retail scene. My only criticism is that I have yet to find an Emma Bridgewater Whippet mug…
Chris Brinkworth, Strategy & Marketing Manager, The Point.1888
There’s been a couple of things from my side. Firstly, seeing Sidemen’s brand go from strength to strength this year has been incredible to see, with Topps and the news of a big Spongebob collaboration with Paramount. This is an example of YouTubers giving their consumers what they want by combining two brands they feel passionate about with creative design and cultural relevance. Secondly, that of EA Sports’ FIFA game. Bringing in both Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney’s Wrexham and Ted Lasso’s AFC Richmond is a brilliant way to capture headlines and drive engagement within the game. Ted Lasso and Wrexham have both been received a lot of marketing and goodwill from consumers. Licensing them into the game is a unique way to progress the games’ popularity, as well as driving brand affinity for existing consumers.
Timo Olkkola, Founder, Flowhaven
My favourite product was LEGO’s Super Mario 64 Question Mark Block. It combines the quality of LEGO and Nintendo, highlighting both companies’ values really well: inspiring, innovative, family-friendly and fan-oriented. Every fan recognises it, but it’s also full of little details and surprises so it isn’t only a cool-looking product, but it’s packed full of meaning. I also love it since it links back to the Mario starter course and the whole Super Mario LEGO sets, so it expands the experience!
Lewis Webster, Junior Designer, Crush Creative
I’d go for Call of Duty’s collaboration with Valaclava. What is great about this particular collab is the utility of it. By buying one of the 300 limited pieces of clothing that Valaclava and COD worked on, not only do you get a limited piece of clothing, you can also wear the particular clothing digitally, owning the NFT of it. It expands on what NFTs can be used for, in a digital sense, and bridges the gap between physical/digital worlds in an effective way.
Ben Cox, Creative Director & Co-Founder, Fraktal
One of the most impressive things I’ve seen of late is the self-transforming Optimus Prime by Robosen. Being a child of the Eighties, I have a fondness for brands that I grew up with and Transformers were one of the biggest brands of that time. Looking back at the toys, they were pretty crude and lacked a lot of the articulation that you see in modern toys. Our imagination definitely had to do a lot of heavy lifting back then! Through technology and engineering, the Robosen Optimus Prime is capable of transforming from truck mode to robot all by itself and back again. It boasts a huge amount of functions that can be activated by voice or an app in your phone… It has to be seen to be believed! This ‘toy’ is expensive and is intended for adult use only, but I think it provides a glimpse into the future of toy manufacturing. I’m sure much of the technology that is featured here will filter into the mainstream. It blows my mind that we live a time when a toy from yesteryear can be brought to life before our eyes with a simple voice command. It’s almost like Optimus Prime stepped out of your television and into your living room!
Sharon Weisman, CEO, PowerStation Studios US
We’ve experienced all the “here’s a set where you can take many photos to share on social media” experiences., but I loved SuperflyX’s partnership with Booking.com for The Office Experience. What I love about this strategic partnership is that it’s in D.C., includes partnerships with local businesses and offers both an online and IRL merch store.
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