Born innovators: One man’s mission to change what you thought you knew about licensing

When I started Born Licensing almost five years ago in my Melbourne apartment, I set out to create a licensing agency that focused on bringing incremental revenue to the licensing industry in innovative ways. Five years later this tactic is even more relevant, both for us and the industry as a whole.

I decided that the best way to find new business was through licensing IP out in the advertising space. I had worked on deals like this in previous roles and I knew that few Licensors were proactively pursuing opportunities in advertising. Those that had resource allocated to the advertising category were mostly reactive due to other priorities. I envisioned having a proactive approach to raising the profile of licensing IP throughout the advertising community.

We signed two great campaigns while in Australia; a Simonds Homes campaign with Transformers and a Subaru campaign with G.I. Joe. They each generated a lot of interest in both the advertising and licensing trade thanks to the creative approach to using the IP.

Things really exploded for us when I moved myself and the company to London. Since setting up shop in the British capital we’ve signed deals with major brands such as T-Mobile, Cadbury, Just Eat, Facebook, British Airways, BarclayCard and Tesco. Our most high-profile string of campaigns was with comparison website Moneysupermarket, who licensed He-Man and Skeletor from Masters of the Universe, Dirty Dancing, Action Man, Sindy, and Thelma and Louise across four campaigns, one of which picked up the LIMA award for Best Promotion in 2018.

Since launching the company our advertising business has grown significantly year on year and as a result we’ve delivered millions of dollars in incremental revenue to the Licensors we work with, and to the licensing community as a whole. In addition to the direct revenue our deals have generated, the campaigns we’ve worked on have accumulated well over a hundred million dollars of media value for the IP licensed. For that reason, we’re confident that the campaigns we work on generate a great deal of indirect revenue to the licensing community too.

As we approach our fifth anniversary, I’ve made the decision to expand our innovative approach to two areas beyond advertising. We’re dividing the areas into Consumer Products and Innovation.

Our Consumer Products business will focus on working with Licensors that have a unique and innovative approach to licensing their IP. An example of that is JoyPixels emojis, who we have signed on to represent as master agent globally.

I know what you’re thinking. Another emoji brand may not seem like it falls into the category of innovation. After all, there are already some emojis out there, and there has been for some time. Not to mention the 2017 film or the fact that there is already a great deal of emoji product in the market.

This is all true. However, the innovation from JoyPixels is more about their unparalleled creative and unique business approach to licensing their IP.

On a creative level, the JoyPixels emojis translate beautifully onto product. It’s always got the latest emojis thanks to being members of the Unicode Consortium, the organisation that maintains and publishes the Unicode Standard. However, their assets go beyond the 2,827 (soon to be 3,767) copyright protected emoji icons we see on our devices.

JoyPixels also has over 900 emoji stickers. These dive into the lives of some of the most popular emojis through fun images and slogans such as Avocado Adventures, Unicorn Life and Woman Power. JoyPixels has also recently launched the animated emojis, which includes 40 (60 more to be released soon) animations all derived from our signature emoji designs.

In addition to this, it has a very flexible approach to their licensing business. The can move quickly, have a streamlined approvals process and offer reasonable deal terms. Most of all, they are incredibly passionate about what they do and love partnering with Licensees who recognise the value of working with such high-quality emoji assets.

As master licensing agent for JoyPixels emojis, we’re in the process of appointing sub-agents in key markets around the world, and we’re looking forward to announcing those over the coming weeks and months. There are over 6 billion emojis sent on a daily basis and they’ll be here for a long time to come, so we have no doubt that our sub-agents will make a success out of the brand in their markets.

Innovations, the other new area of our business, focuses on working with innovative and entrepreneurial companies who have an existing product or a great product idea, and would like to license IP for the first time.

An example of this is StickerPop, the world’s first marketplace for people to buy digital stickers. Stickers are the hottest way to communicate on social media and the StickerPop app allows users to share on social platforms such as WhatsApp, Snapchat, iMessage, Facebook, Instagram and more. The StickerPop store and library is the biggest in the world.

Born Licensing negotiated a range of licenses on behalf of StickerPop including deals with Grumpy Cat , StudioPets, JoyPixels, Magic Light Pictures and Sneezing Baby Panda.

We’re having a number of conversations with other exciting and innovative companies that are set to bring fresh licensing opportunities to the industry.

It’s an interesting time for the licensing industry as we see IP portfolios consolidating, retail as we know it being flipped on its head and revenue streams narrowing for brands. More Licensors and agents are looking at areas outside of their normal traditional licensing categories

As our business shifts its focus into three areas; Advertising, Consumer Products and Innovation, our overall efforts continue to be dedicated to delivering innovative opportunities and incremental revenue to the licensing community.

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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