Emoji’s Marco Huesges: ‘Think of licensing as music and you’ll see potential everywhere’

How has business been for Emoji so far this year? How did you guys end 2017 and how are you now positioned for the year ahead?

The year has started just as 2017 ended for us, very busy indeed.

We decided to make some changes in the representation for our brand in certain territories which will be announced shortly. With more than 240 deals just signed in 2017 alone, we are looking at a continuous growth as partners are going to launch product lines in 2018 which they developed over the last few months.

Like we have seen in previous years, we expect to execute numerous new licensing agreements globally and to further expand into new product categories and new territories.

What were the biggest successes of last year for you guys, how will you be building on these for the year ahead?

Last year we had some incredible success with Emoji loyalty programmes with Swiss retailer COOP and with some other partners across Europe,

In 2018 we will see newly developed loyalty programmes with partners to be announced shortly. We are launching our first Emoji collectables toy line this year and expect to have great sales results. In addition to that, there will be multiple QSR deals all around the world.

You guys recently partnered with Bulls Licensing for increased growth in the Nordics. What are the biggest markets for you guys now? Does the UK remain a key region for the Emoji brand?

The UK market is historically a great licensing market with huge potential. With Bravado we have an amazing partner to cover both licensing activities plus working directly with retail partners such as Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Amazon or Aldi UK.

We have 24 active licensees at present and expect to increase that number to 35 within 2018. Active partners include Specsavers, C&M, Gemma, Finsbury, Dreamtex, Novomatic, Random House, Ravensburger, Zimpli Kids and a lot more.

What are you most looking forward to for the year ahead? What big plans have you got in the licensing space?

2018 is already a fantastic year for the Emoji brand. We have partnered with Ferrero and Nestle for some global programmes that will have a huge impact for our brand.

All throughout the year 2018 we established exciting promotions flanked by TV advertisement. Kipling is going to launch a wonderful series of Emoji bags and we continue existing fashion collaborations with partners such as Zara or C&A. During summertime we launch theme park activities which we will disclose in more detail in the coming months.

How have you seen the licensing space evolve over recent years and how has this impacted on or influenced your approach to licensing?

The evolution of our industry is a common process, just think about the music industry. I find it very helpful as it opens new potentials and sets new standards. The licensing industry is a mature and serious industry.

Brands can be funny, cool or colourful, but the management behind all of that must be organised tightly. There are many aspects to be considered in licensing: today it is not only about the brand and its content. Throw in trademark laws and copyright laws and we have a whole new ball game.

As a brand owner we constantly need to reflect on ourselves and continue to meet market developments as you cannot rest on past achievements.

We must meet the expectations of both licensee and the final customer which is why we put a lot of resources in R&D, trend analysis and into the design of compelling style guides. We are a highly service-orientated company and understand the importance of amenability, brand assurance, timing and quality.

How important have location based experience become to the Emoji brand? How are you tapping into this current demand from consumers?

Activities, promotions and events have a significant impact on brand building and ongoing awareness. It is the best mechanism to connect the customer to a brand in a playful way which happens by such actions.

The luxury of the Emoji brand is that it fits perfectly well for all customers regardless of their age and gender. Meet and greet photo opportunites, workshop areas, playgrounds or brand Emoji indoor games are perfect offers to connect the customer emotionally with the Emoji brand and to increase brand awareness.

The Emoji Company works with the biggest malls all over the world and is also actively engaged in charity events for children or people in need.

What’s the next big development for you guys> Have you got any further plans in the digital and tech space?

Of course we do. We are a lifestyle brand and our mission is to offer a whole lifestyle experience to the consumer. It is important to build sustainability and to entertain the customer; all that is part of brand building.

We recently launched a new YouTube channel and are releasing a weekly Emoji short film while constantly posting cool GIFs and mini games on Facebook and Instagram. We are also proud to announce that our first record is launching in April this year.

Besides our own online activities, we are discussing some interesting licensing deals in the gaming and gambling area with various partners.

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz 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 Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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