Brand Licensing (BL): What’s so special about “It’s Happy Bunny”?
Carole Postal (CP): CopCorp recently entrusted Extend Brands with responsibility for managing the licensing programme in India for Jim Benton’s “It’s Happy Bunny” – the cute little bunny with the big attitude. The popular character brand is an award-winning brand that has enjoyed much success in America and elsewhere around the world.
BL: What is the kind of revenue that CopCorp generates from its L&M activities? Which are the various verticals that you are present across?
CP: CopCorp first launched the It’s Happy Bunny licensing programme in America back in the year 2000. In the ten years since then, It’s Happy Bunny licensed products have generated a cumulative total of roughly three-quarters of a billion dollars in retail sales worldwide.
In addition to It’s Happy Bunny, we also manages the global licensing programmes for several other Benton Arts brands as well as the Pink Cookie fashion brand, the Ringing Bros and Barnum & Bailey entertainment brand, Barcode Kitties characters and Will Bullas FUN Art among other properties.
BL: How have you viewed the market growth (abroad) over these years? Across how many countries are you present (via licensing agreements with potential licensees)?
CP: The successful establishment and growth of licensing programmes in overseas markets is very important to CopCorp. From the very start, CopCorp has been a champion for the idea that properties without the benefit of media can be successful outside the US and, in fact, can serve to supplement licensing programmes in North America. Overseas growth has served to strengthen CopCorp’s global perspective on licensing and has strengthened the company through, at present, a challenging US economy. We’re present in more than 80 countries across the world.
BL: What has been the consumer response? Who is your target audience across verticals?
CP: We have enjoyed great success with our It’s Happy Bunny, Pink Cookie and Barcode Kitties licensing programmes overseas. Although there are some small regional differences, it is clear to us that the basic and overall consumer response to these properties is the same all around the world:
BL: What do you think a beginner country (with regards to L&M) needs to focus upon in order to take its L&M industry to the next level?
CP: CopCorp Executive VP and Co-founder Robert Postal is convinced that India has the necessary traits to become one of the world’s leading licensing centres. He further notes that India has a long and rich artistic history including India’s films which have found appreciative audiences around the globe. India has become a source of animation throughout the world.
India offers seemingly unlimited manufacturing capabilities. This is a two-fold advantage in that. Firstly, India’s manufacturers have considerable experience producing licensed product as subcontractors for licensees around the world, so they are ready to become direct licensees of overseas properties. Secondly, India’s manufacturers will be more than ready to export India’s own licensed properties to the rest of the world.
And last but not least, India is a fast-growing economy with an established tech industry powered by a large and growing population of young, highly-educated professionals. This population will not only help create demand for licensed product as consumers, but also drive development of new branded products and services.
BL: What are the main points that you look at when it comes to choosing a licensee abroad? What is the kind of research that you do while considering to enter a target country?
CP: In truth, when selecting an agent to represent your brands in another country, you must rely on them to put forth the right partners for your brands which compel us to choose our licensing representatives abroad very carefully. We check references with other licensors and managing agents to ensure that there is no overlap in brand representation and that the agency has done a respectable and honourable business in their respective territory. In terms of potential licensees, of course, we ask for references but again, we rely on the expertise of our representatives there to make the right choices. Essentially, I want them to be ‘us’ in India as ‘we’ are in the US.
BL: What are the main product categories, which you offer, best sell? What is the kind of research that you conduct for choosing a product category for a particular market?
CP: Whether it is abroad or at home, we are always looking for licensees who are enthusiastic about the brand, know their market, and are committed to providing quality products and service.
When building a licensing programme abroad, we work closely with our affiliate agencies in each territory. The local expertise and experience they provide is invaluable to us.
We trust our affiliate agencies to advise us on specific licensees, product categories and retailers as well as general market trends. In India, we will rely on our friends at Extend Brands to help and guide our strategies and develop effective tactics for establishing and building a very successful It’s Happy Bunny licensing programme there.
When a representative and a potential licensee demonstrate ‘passion’, it’s a win/win situation!