Backland Studios

With a track record including work on the conception of Bubblegum, Forever Friends and Purple Ronnie, it is little wonder that Kaely and Ged Backland have got off to such a flying start with Backland Studios.
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With a track record including work on the conception of Bubblegum, Forever Friends and Purple Ronnie, it is little wonder that Kaely and Ged Backland have got off to such a flying start with Backland Studios.

The portfolio of brands covers pretty much every target audience. Goochicoo lands in the lucrative baby market, Vincent’s cutesy image is likely to appeal to kids and adults alike, Scarlett and Crimson position themselves smack bang in the middle of the tween market and filter into young women’s consciousness and Grumpy Old Gits and Aunt Acid are likely to sit comfortably in the adult market.

Scarlett and Crimson is perhaps one of the most talked about properties at the moment – not just within the licensing industry, but also in the heady heights of fashion journalism. Despite the subject matter being two tween best friends, the brand has already carried weight in the world of women’s fashion and trends in some of the most respected media.

The Sunday Times Style 2009 trend guide featured the duo alongside the likes of Georgia May Jagger, Coco Sumner, Emily Blunt and Amber Le Bon. In Style magazine also heralded the girls as: ‘Two feisty cartoon rock-goth chicks who are set for world domination.’

The attention for the brand shared with Coolabi is largely due to some high profile licensing deals. Robert Cary-Williams has become one of the first fashion designers and artists to start work on a collection inspired by Scarlett & Crimson. Famous for dressing the likes of Kate Moss and Lily Cole, Cary-Williams has developed four limited edition women's vests including hidden motifs linked to a series of storybooks due for launch in summer 2009.

Published by Simon & Schuster in the US and UK from summer this year, a total of 16 books are about the girls are also planned, with four released next year.

And finally, a teen cosmetics range is in development with Ruby Hammer and Millie Kendall. The range will hit the UK High Street in September.

All this centres on just one of the brands in the portfolio. Goochicoo is also proving to be a big hit and making a similar impact in the world of babies.

Goochicoo was developed by Kaely and Ged Backland after the birth of their twins. They felt that there was a nothing on the market that reflected the mischievous and funny nature of babies and toddlers.

The simple babies with ‘nappitude’ designs have been licensed to big name companies. Tommee Tippee has been producing Goochicoo bibs, cutlery, bowls plates, cups etc since 2005 in Tesco. The deal has also recently been extended to be stocked in Sainsbury.

Other licensees include Poetic Gem for baby apparel, Kiss HK for wooden toys and MV Sports for plush and doll accessories. Izziwotnot has a range of bedding and gro-bags and UK Greetings is signed up to produce the greetings card range.

A successful line-up, which Ged Backland attributes mainly to the brand’s simple premise. He explains: “A successful brand is one that is fun and accessible to the majority of consumers - we don’t do niche.”

And indeed the brand, licensed in the UK by Bulldog Licensing, seems to appeal across territories with Al Ovadia and Associates representing the property in the US, Carrefour taking care of it in Spain, Wild Pumpkin running the programme in Australia and New Zealand, Performance Brands in the Middle East and MJA looks after France and Benelux countries.

Backland Studio was founded in 2004, as Ged explains: “After Kaely and I had spent 14 years as creative directors for UKG and Hallmark. Having created some major characters that proved very successful at retail, we decided that we had what it takes to go it alone and set up the Backland Studio.”

The firm now consists of ten people plus some freelance illustrators and writers and Ged treats each of these members as key to the production of the brands. When asked how they go about creating a brand, Backland explained simply: “We look for a gap in the character licensing market, develop the character and work bloody hard.”

It looks like there is more to watch out for from the Backland stable over the following 12 months as Backland explains: “We’ve had a fantastic year in 2008 with Vincent, Aunt Acid and Grumpy Old Gits all having been successfully launched into the market place - they all have major deals signed.”


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