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Home | RaugustOnLicensing


Karen Raugust is Special Projects Editor of The Licensing Letter and author of The Licensing Business Handbook as well as numerous reports including International Licensing: A Status Report. RaugustOnLicensing will feature Karen's unique perspective on trends and news about licensing and merchandising.

Thursday, Sep 18, 2014
Singers Step Into Signature Shoes
By Karen Raugust
Thursday, Sep 18, 2014 09:49
A decade or more ago, observers might have questioned the idea of a musician pairing his or her name with a footwear line. There have been a handful of examples over time--notably Michael Jackson, Belinda Carlisle, and Paula Abdul--but, in general, a singer-shoe match-up would have seemed like an odd fit.

No more. These days, footwear--with a focus on athletic shoe styles--is almost a no-brainer category for bands and singers in all genres and at all career stages.

To name just a few examples:

• adidas has done deals with Rita Ora, Pharrell Williams, and Kanye West (who previously had a deal with Nike).

• Keds has produced a number of collections with Taylor Swift.

• Converse has tied in with Metallica, AC-DC, Black Sabbath, and Pink Floyd.

• Vans has done business with KISS, Rob Zombie, and Queen.

• Nike signed Drake and, as noted, formerly worked with West.

These just begin to illustrate the breadth of this trend. Other bands that have been associated with footwear deals of various types range from Dinosaur Jr. and Animal Collective to No Age and Wu Tang Clan.

In some cases, the artist is involved in creating or inspiring the design of the shoe, while in others a musician-created image or album cover is imprinted on the product. Most are limited editions, but some (e.g., Swift) end up expanding into longer-term alliances.

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Monday, Sep 15, 2014
Licensed Products à la Mode
By Karen Raugust
Monday, Sep 15, 2014 04:42
It is often pointed out that brand-extension licensing is less developed internationally than in the U.S. and Canada. But the landscape is changing. Not only that, but there have long been pockets of activity scattered across the globe.

A case in point: Brand-extension licensing of women's fashion magazines in France and of French magazines across the world.

In November 2012, Cosmopolitan announced the launch of a line of electric haircare appliances, including hair dryers and curling irons, in 500 Carrefour stores, many of which were in France. The deal, which was brokered by The Licensing Company, rode the coattails of extensive licensing efforts tied to the French publications ELLE and Marie Claire.

Marie Claire's program targets women ages 25-35 with a range of more than 100 product lines, including women's and men's ready-to-wear apparel. The program began in Japan in 1982 and remained there exclusively until 1992, when it expanded worldwide. Merchandise is now available in France and other parts of Europe, as well as the Asia-Pacific, Middle East, and North America.

As for ELLE, it also was particularly successful in Asia in its early history, with 60% of retail sales of licensed products reportedly occurring in that market in the 1980s, including in Japan before there was a magazine published there. By 2007, when Elle signed its direct-to-retail deal with Kohl's in the U.S., which is still in place, it had 39 magazine editions worldwide, licensed products in 80 countries, and 250 freestanding stores globally.

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Thursday, Sep 11, 2014
No Taste For Wine
By Karen Raugust
Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 02:57
Alcohol brands from beer to bourbon oversee outbound licensing programs that include products from can cozies to spirits-infused salmon. But there have been few, if any, vineyards or brands of wine that have extended their names into other products.

A key reason for the lack of licensing is likely the lower levels of loyalty for wine than for other alcohol brands. Wine drinkers often like to experiment with different varietals, years, countries of origin, and vineyards. Different labels have different strengths depending on the type of wine, so wine enthusiasts' favorite options often encompass a number of labels rather than focusing on one brand. And the quality of wine varies from year to year, region to region, and vineyard to vineyard, depending on weather, so there is not necessarily a great deal of product consistency within a given label, causing consumers to move from one to another.

Of course, vineyards are active participants in inbound licensing and joint ventures, with celebrities, chefs, athletes, musicians, TV shows, artists, and other types of properties all active participants in the wine business.

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Monday, Sep 08, 2014
Vintage + Video Games = Stylish Products
By Karen Raugust
Monday, Sep 08, 2014 02:55
A number of licensed properties and their associated products feature a pixelated art style (also known as bitmap or raster) remembered from the early days of video games. Examples include:

• New interactive games reflecting the retro style of the first video and arcade titles (e.g., Minecraft).

• New entertainment properties that reimagine the world of vintage video games (e.g., Disney's Wreck-It Ralph and Sony's upcoming Pixels).

• The original games themselves, now making a comeback (e.g., Tetris and Space Invaders).

This trend makes sense, of course, given broader, ongoing developments in licensing and pop culture--namely the popularity of casual interactive games on mobile devices and the strength of retro and vintage designs in fashion.

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Thursday, Sep 04, 2014
Thinking in Three Dimensions
By Karen Raugust
Thursday, Sep 04, 2014 11:17
Widespread consumer usage of 3D printing is probably five to 10 years away, according to some experts. But that hasn't stopped licensors and licensees from experimenting with the technology. In fact, the number of companies dipping a toe into the 3D printing waters has proliferated in the last year or so:

• Consumers can 3D print ceramic figurines of themselves as Star Trek characters through an initiative between CBS Consumer Products and 3DMe, a service of 3D Systems/Cubify. A similar service called 3DPlusMe works with licensors including Major League Baseball, Ubisoft (Assassin's Creed), and Marvel.

• Pretty Ugly partnered with MakerBot to allow fans to order 3D-printed collectibles of four Uglydoll characters in various poses, available through the MakerBot digital store. Sesame Workshop has a similar venture with MakerBot, with the first character being Mr. Snuffleupagus.

• Rock band Linkin Park works with Staramba, a German company, to create 3D figures of the band members, available online, as well as "3D selfies" of the fan/purchaser along with his or her favorite band member, available at the band's concerts.

• Hasbro partnered with Shapeways to develop 3D printing initiatives, starting with a user-generated content site where fans can join the Shapeways community, create original art based on Hasbro properties, and then have it printed in 3D. Shapeways also has a number of communities focusing on Mojang's Minecraft.

• In addition to Ubisoft and Mojang's ventures, mentioned above, several other videogame companies have paired with 3D printing services to allow players to create 3D versions of their avatars; examples include Harmonix (Rock Band 2) with Z Corp. and Blizzard (World of Warcraft) with FigurePrints.

• Warner Bros. UK teamed with Microsoft for 3D-printable blueprints of the Key to Erebor, an item that plays a central role in the Hobbit movie trilogy.

On the hardware side, Coca-Cola and will.i.am's Ekocycle partnership licensed 3D Systems for a consumer 3D printer called the Ekocycle Cube, which comes with 25 printable concepts and uses filament partially made of plastic Coke bottles. 3D Systems also has partnered with Hershey's to develop 3D chocolate printers.

As these examples show, the number of consumer 3D printers and 3D printing services is expanding rapidly, as is the roster of initiatives involving licensed properties. To date, however, most of these ventures are more about experimentation and positioning for the future rather than current revenue-generation, although most fans are making a significant investment to 3D print their favorite characters in these early days.

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