Warner Bros' Paul Bufton on the continuing success of Scooby-Doo, Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry

Robert Hutchins

By Robert Hutchins

October 14th 2015 at 7:00PM
UPDATED October 14th 2015 at 11:45PM
Warner Bros' Paul Bufton on the continuing success of Scooby-Doo, Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry

Licensing.biz talks to Paul Bufton, vice president of licensing and business development at Warner Bros. Consumer Products about the strenght of the firm's iconic animated brands.

When it comes to licensing classic animation brands, few can rival the success that Warner Bros. Consumer Products has seen in the market over the years.

But when it is armed with iconic brands such as Scooby-Doo, Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry, it is little wonder that the studio has the ability to draw fans in and nurture their passion for its line-up of characters throughout a lifetime.

“Our classic animation brands possess a magnetism that transcends generations, geography and gender,” Paul Bufton, vice president, licensing and business development, Warner Bros. Consumer Products EMEA, tells Licensing.biz.

While the core values of these classic brands are fiercely protected, and with the Studio dedicated to developing fresh new content, Bufton explains that there is “a robust digital eco system” designed around the brand.

And despite the fact that Warner's strategy of targeting the consumer directly with the message of its classic animation brand, has seen the property take to platforms now so ubiquitous to everyday life, the studio recognises that childhood experience remains a fundamental factor in underpinning its longevity amongst consumers.

"Scooby-Doo, Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry are childhood rites of passage and while we continually invest in these iconic brands, you cannot buy heritage. It’s a testament to the sheer quality of the animation and characterisation that the affection for these beloved characters continues to be passed from parent, often grandparent, to child. 

"It’s this organic peer-to-peer endorsement that drives licensee and retailer interest and constant consumer demand for products.”

As a leading example of the breadth and depth that WBCP's classic animation licensing programme reach, Scooby-Doo currently enjoy active licensees across EMEA and a brand that consistently ranks as one of the top selling properties across the entire WBCP portfolio.

The summer of 2015 saw The LEGO Group join the roster of Scooby-Doo licensing partners, a partnership that has been labelled as nothing short of a runaway success. Couple this with the Studio's recent announcement of a new theatrical film in 2018, it's no surprise excitement has been reverberating throughout the entire franchise.

Bufton continues: “Scooby-Doo has a phenomenal longterm track record across all categories, especially in toys which is routed in long standing partnerships, such asCharacter Group.  The ability to add The LEGO Group to the mix extends the brand into the ever-popular construction category  and is a key factor in ensuring and extending the brand’s popularity across all age groups.”

Meanwhile, it's fashion and sports that lies at the heart of the Looney Tunes licensing programme. And if evidence was required to prove that Warner’s Classic Animation properties go far beyond traditional category and retail boundaries, then let the current licensing developments  within the franchise be all you need.

This year the Looney Tunes have had a 90’s inspired hip-hop makeover as part of a deal with Moschino, while high profile DTR’s drive sales at Primark, H&M, Zara and Oviesse, along with the pre-school Baby Looney Tunes programme, which continues to inspire product ranges for WBCP’s youngest consumers.

The sports inspired Looney Tunes Active programme continues to go the distance, too as WBCP works with partners including the NBA and Nike to harness the active by nature qualities and frenetic personalities of the iconic characters and develop products that promote or enable an active lifestyle.

“Looney Tunes, in licensing terms, is a rule maker and indeed rule breaker," says Bufton. "From high-end to high-street, the Looney Tunes are proving to be a positive disruptive force in the apparel category.”

Finally Tom and Jerry, many decades on from their pioneering debut as the frantic cat and mouse duo, are still entertaining kids and adults alike. The slapstick humour, the love of the chase and the purposeful lack of dialogue has helped cement the brand’s position as a firm family favourite around the globe, translating across territories, including Russia, an emerging market that has proven key for this brand.

An ongoing licensing success, with an impressive roster of licensing partners are on-board including huge FMCG partners like Danone and McDonalds, which ran a Happy Meal promotion in 2015.

"Brand recognition and affection across generations is a key factor in our success in the FMCG category," explains Bufton. 

"Market leaders like Nestle and Ferrero understand the power of our brands as a tool in helping them to amplify their messaging on a global scale. 

"Our continued commitment to developing best-in-class licensing partnerships like these will ensure that our classic animation portfolio gets better with age and lives on forever," he concludes.