Seeing Green

Environmentally conscious brands are embracing licensing as the eco-trend becomes more mainstream.

"More brands and consumer goods companies are looking at licensing as a way to increase their consumer touch points, as well as their bottom line. Unlike entertainment properties, brands are less fickle to consumer trends and tastes," says Diane McGrath, global head of licensing, Reckitt Benckiser.

Consumers are also becoming increasingly aware of alternative channels of distribution, including e-commerce, direct response TV, and even social networking sites. For licensing, this means licensors and licensees must consider alternative distribution strategies as consumers expand their reach and become more connected.

Michael Stone, president and CEO of The Beanstalk Group, says, "Licensing is the retail form of human media or user-generated content. Through licensing, a brand can enter consumers' lives in ways that are unpredictable, but completely natural. If done properly, through the purchase of a licensed product, a consumer will have such a meaningful experience with the brand that they cannot resist sharing it with others. And, unlike other, more common forms of buzz marketing, licensing-generated buzz can be long-term, controlled and highly targeted.

"As the green trend continues to expand across all major industries, it's no wonder green is tapping on the licensing industry's door," says Stone. "Interest in sustainable products and living is at an all-time high. Environmentally conscious brands, such as the World Wildlife Fund, are embracing licensing as consumers become more aware of and respond to products, which encourage sustainable living."

The Beanstalk Group signed on several new brands, including Vespa, World Wildlife Fund, and Always. Vespa, the hip, colorful, performance-driven motorcycle brand that is renowned for its sleek Italian design, aims to zoom into retail with apparel, health and beauty products, and small electrical appliances. Licensees will be announced in the fall. As of press time, licensing plans for World Wildlife Federation and Always were still being determined.

The Licensing Company (TLC) signed on to represent Reckitt Benckiser's key brands for licensing initiatives in the North American region and will develop strategic licensing activity for Lysol, Veet, Airwick, Clearasil, Resolve, and Woolite. The agency, which represents Reckitt Benckiser in Europe, has been busy building a successful program based on the Airwick and Veet brands. The partnership has led to several other innovative extensions such as the recent launch of the Airwick in-car air freshener system. Reckitt Benckiser also extended its European representation to include Cillit Bang, Nurofen, and Dettol.

Movie and entertainment brand Fandango is seeking licensing opportunities within apparel, games, craft sets, and novelty.

First-time exhibitor Boy Scouts of America, which has been licensing its name since 1920, has signed on 50 licensees from apparel to video games. Next to debut is an apparel collection that will be available at better department stores, mid-tier, and mass retailers. In an effort to reach its alumni, the brand will incorporate its nostalgic art on product for a 2008 rollout.

The Joester Loria Group is spear-heading a licensing and merchandising strategy for BBC Worldwide's high-rating natural history program "Planet Earth" and its feature film release "Earth." A natural/organic line of apparel, textiles, home, gift, social expressions, stationery, toys and games will begin shipping in holiday 2007, and will be available in the U.S. and Canada.

In other news, Joester Loria announced the launch of Aquafina Advance Hydration RX, a hydrating skincare line scheduled to launch next month at mass-market retailers and drug chains. The collection includes a foaming cleanser, clarifying toner, facial scrub and mask, daytime SPF moisturizer and nighttime moisturizer, under-eye cream, wrinkle release and sealer, renewal treatment, and hydrating facial spray.

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