THE BIG INTERVIEW: Peter Byrne, CEO, CPLG

Samantha Loveday

By Samantha Loveday

June 11th 2013 at 3:03PM
THE BIG INTERVIEW: Peter Byrne, CEO, CPLG

We find out what's behind the agency's major rebrand.

Can you talk us through the rebrand? What were the reasons behind it, what inspired it? What message is it sending out to the licensing trade in general?

All great brands evolve over time and as we are approaching our 40th anniversary next year, we felt it was appropriate to refresh our corporate identity to reflect more what we do, and more importantly the way that we do it.

We manage some of the industry’s top brands so we think it’s really important to manage our own brand well.

We took a fairly unprecedented step and commissioned a research review with our key business partners and this really helped us pinpoint the direction. It came out loud and clear that we have a straight-talking pragmatic approach to doing business, we tell it like it is – hence the tag ‘Expert Common Sense’ which sums it up nicely.

The re-branding permeates throughout the organisation – it’s a key component in the rejuvenation of the business, and really signals the first in a number of key changes taking place. It’s part of a bigger ethos.


And what's the story on the new website?

We are really excited to be unveiling our new website today, which we think showcases perfectly what we do best. We had some very constructive feedback from our partners so we are trying to make it useful on a number of levels.

We are also introducing our very own ‘Noticeboard’ and we will be posting some interesting trade commentary, as well as some very unique insights from the CPLG team from time to time.

What major activity should we be looking out for from CPLG's brands for the remainder of 2013?

The phenomenon of Skylanders continues to be a major industry talking point as momentum just keeps on increasing now that we are seeing different product categories hitting the shelves across Europe. The merchandise is selling as fast as the video game figures, so the anticipated demand with the new Swapforce launch in October can only fuel the momentum.

On our movie slate, it’s a busy summer across the group with Despicable Me 2 (June), Enders Game and Catching Fire (November).

In terms of single entertainment events, it doesn’t get much bigger than the next instalment of the biggest video game franchise Call of Duty: Ghosts (November), which is already causing a stir since the online announcement a few weeks ago.

We are also gearing up for some major anniversaries in 2014 on a number of our classic brands in our portfolio – The Simpsons 25th, Peanuts 65th and Pink Panther 50th - and will be unveiling some big news stories at BLE in October.

Following on from the rebrand, will you be looking to change your portfolio? Are you looking to grow certain types of licences (such as video games, for example) or expand into new areas? Is sport still a key area?

There are three fundamental pillars to our business – Entertainment, Sports and Brands - and we aim to be very focused in each of these areas and build a ‘best in class’ portfolio in each. We have already started to refocus the business and relinquish peripheral rights – and concentrate on managing brands rather than collecting licences.

Properties can emanate from many different segments, as we have experienced with Skylanders, and we are seeing some fast traction from Doodle Jump and Fruit Ninja. In fact, the recent announcement that Rabbids will be coming to TV platforms across Europe is an exciting proposition as we have had huge merchandise success in France where it launched as Lapins Cretin.

Sport is integral and aside from our existing portfolio with the pedigree of St Andrews Links, the RFU and FFF, we have just announced our representation of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2014 next autumn in Spain and Turkey.

As well as this we have some exiting news to share on the Brands side of the business, and we will be making some announcements shortly.

How important will Licensing Expo and BLE be for the firm this year? What messages will you be looking to get across at the shows?

Both are key milestones in our calendar. We will be focusing on the above stories for Licensing Expo and then in the run-up to BLE announce some major new initiatives that will put us very much at the forefront of our respected peers. We are making some fundamental  changes to the way we do business. We will also have  a brand new booth at BLE, so there is a lot going on over the next few months.

How heavily is DHX Media involved with the business? Is CPLG still run as a separate company? What opportunities has the acquisition given CPLG?

We have an extremely supportive parent in DHX and the company has embraced the fast pace of change at CPLG and what we need to make it happen. CPLG remains a very fast moving entrepreneurial company, as indeed DHX itself is. This can only afford CPLG greater opportunities to expand the business in the future.

What would you most like to have achieved with CPLG by the end of the year?

We have covered a heck of a lot of ground in last five months and I’m fortunate to have an incredibly passionate team behind me who have stuck with it all. Licensing is an all-consuming business though, so you never really tick off everything on your list. There are some big goals ahead though... (I can hear groans from my group …)

And, longer term, where would you like to see the firm in five, ten years' time?

Now I’ll have to keep you guessing on that one...