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This month, industry figures are looking at the iconic BBC brand, Top of the Pops – and whether it has the potential to rise up the licensing charts.
Talking Brands is a new monthly series that sees figures in the licensing industry tackle a question centred on brand extensions and creativity in licensing.
This month, we’re talking about the iconic BBC brand, Top of the Pops.
Huge stars, era-defining performances, outrageous outfits – Top of the Pops was a British institution, and for decades, the country’s number one pop show.
Although the weekly chart show wrapped up in 2006, a Christmas show still airs every year, while classic TOTP moments are relived in re-runs and on Top of the Pops 2, a show featuring archive footage and performances.
When it comes to licensing, Top of the Pops has enjoyed many album releases celebrating music from different decades, DVDs featuring highlights from the show, and a book from 2014 celebrating 50 years of the brand.
A more creative take on the brand landed last year in the form of Top of the Pops: The Party Game, from London-based board game firm Big Potato.
The game sees players race to name song titles based on categories like ‘Songs that mention a city’ and ‘Songs containing the word ‘we’’, before a round that sees music fans describe, sing and kazoo three famous artists for their teammates to guess.
With Top of the Pops enjoying success in the games space, and re-runs still proving popular on TV, we asked Welbeck Publishing’s Damian Treece, John Davey Design’s John Davey and Sunny Side Up’s Michael Gottlieb about where the brand could go next – or whether it’s had its day.
Here’s what they had to say…
Damian Treece, Senior Licensing Manager, Welbeck Publishing
In all honesty, I think I missed the real heyday for Top of the Pops… Being a teenager in the Nineties was a pretty turgid time for pop music! But the show’s standing as a brand in the music space was – and is – probably unrivalled, save for perhaps the ‘Now’ compilations.
Today as a licensing proposition, what opportunities do I think exist for Top of the Pops? Well, it would be pretty lazy for me to say a great, cross generational Top of the Pops: Ultimate Music Quiz Book…
So looking for a more creative angle, I’ve settled on the Top of the Pops: Karaoke Lounge licensed experience! Yes, I’m very aware we’re in the middle of a global pandemic and event spaces are closed, but hear me out…
Over the past few years we’ve seen a growth in the ‘experience economy’, whether Escape Rooms, Crystal Maze experiences or even Secret Cinema. But, a number of these experiences are focused on a younger demographic, something which I think a karaoke experience would broaden.
As we come out of lockdown, I feel people will gravitate even more to experiences, and especially group activities with friends and family – so what better way than through the medium of drinks, food and recreating some iconic Top of the Pops performances! Oh, and no lip-syncing allowed!
John Davey, Owner, John Davey Design
I think there’s loads it could do… so… it’s Thursday, it’s quite literally Top of the Pops!
At number 10, down from 8 last week… TOTP Gonna Make You a Star Dress-Up! Are you a DJ, a fan or a pop star? Tank tops, miniskirts, sideburns – everything you need to look like a star!
Number 9, up from 14… TOTP Frisbees! Spin those discs to the top spot by launching your shot at the charts – the frisbee throwing chart that is. It might look like a piece of moulded plastic but it’s your gateway to the stars!
Number 8, down from 5 last week… TOTP: Eat to the Beat! Dine with the stars with a set of TOTP dinner plates! Ever dreamt of having breakfast with Beyonce? Lunch with ABBA? Supper with Sting? Dinner with Debbie Harry? Spin a disc and serve your favourite meal on it!
At number 7, down from 3 last week… TOTP: Quick Draw Game! As Joe Dolce famously said, ‘Shaddup you face’ and get on with the drawings! Pick a card, summon up your inner artist and illustrate the hits. Can your fellow players guess what’s TOTP from your masterpiece?
Up from 34 last week, shooting up the charts it’s number 6… TOTP Household Paint Range! Covering everything from psychedelia to shoe gazing and that nasty stain over the bookcase, the colours of the hits and the real meaning of mood music. Each colour named after a top 20 hit… How about a little ‘Blue Monday’ for the lounge? ‘Mellow Yellow’ for the kitchen? ‘Purple Rain’ for the boudoir?
At number 5, down from 2 last week, it’s… TOTP Golden Years from Taschen! The acknowledged style-setters in large format coffee table cool bring you some never seen before pictures, as well as stage set designs, and personal observations from the players who were there. This volume visually amplifies the stunning impact of the world’s hottest chart show and comes bound in lurex with its own sequined collector’s case!
At number 4, up from 13 last week, it’s… TOTP Top Twenty Love Hearts! Sweets for my Sweet, every Love Heart carries the title of a top twenty hit. Munch your way through the hits with this edible tour de force.
At number 3, up from 22 last week, it’s… TOTP Games Workshop Audience Army: The Thursday Gathering! Collect them all… stranger than fiction. They only come out at night to worship at the high altar of pop!
At number 2, up from 7 last week, it’s… TOTP: Smash-Tastic Make-up Stack! Trinny London takes you through the hits as you shimmer, shine and glitter your way through the years. TOTP has seen it all and now all it takes is a mirror and a little help from the queen of looking good for you too.
Up from 3 last week, its number 1, it’s TOP OF THE POPS…TOTP Prosecco! Forget having Katy Perry round for a sherry, this one really is top of the pops! Celebrate hitting the top spot by cracking open a bottle of the TOTP green room’s favourite thirst quencher.
Michael Gottlieb, Director, Sunny Side Up
Top of the Pops mattered a lot to the music industry and to the entire youth population of the UK… 40 plus years ago!
Finding out who was going to be number one when the countdown was revealed every Sunday evening was a very big deal. Thursday evenings took on a whole new lease of life when the iconic Top of the Tops theme tune came on – Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin.
When the Beatles were a not very successful touring band, they used to ask John Lennon “Where are we going John?” and the answer would always be “To the Toppermost of the Poppermost.” Every band aspired to be on Top of the Tops and every fan wanted to be in the studio audience. There was even a song by the Rezillos called Top of the Pops.
The trouble is the demographic who remember Top of the Pops from its glory days are liable to be from, shall we say, the older segment of the population which means it is very much a nostalgia brand.
This does not mean it’s not licensable – however it is limited, and I think the brand’s ability to stand out as an attractive proposition is much more difficult.
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