Can you give us some background on Betty Boop and how Allsorts Licensing has come to represent the brand?
First introduced in 1930, Betty Boop was created by Max Fleischer of New York City-based Fleischer Studios for his 'Talkartoons' series for Paramount (the first 'talkies' of animation) with Mae Questel providing Betty’s distinctive voice. In subsequent years, supporting characters Koko the clown and Pudgy were introduced as Betty’s popularity grew. Betty, considered to be the first and only female animated screen star, had taken the country by storm by 1932 to become the 'Queen of Cartoons' and the unrivalled star of Fleischer Studios. She continues to be its most popular property nearly 80 years later.
Betty has starred in more than 100 cartoons, 90 of which are included in the official Betty Boop series, which ended in 1939. In the 1980s, Betty made the jump to the small screen to star in her own network TV special. Since then, she went on to become the first cartoon character profiled by A&E’s Biography series and has also been honoured with a star-studded tribute on American Movie Classics.
As the worldwide exclusive licensing agent for Betty Boop, King Features has worked closely with Fleischer Studios to build the character into a multi-million-dollar business. More than 175 licensees in the United States and nearly as many internationally produce quality products bearing Betty’s likeness in virtually every category, including cookie jars and other ceramic pieces, stationery items, toys, food, apparel and accessories, housewares, consumer electronics, slot machines and even lottery tickets.
Allsorts Licensing has represented King Features and its many brands in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland since 2000. I have worked with King Features with other companies prior to this.
Betty Boop is almost 80. How has the brand lasted so long? How does it compete with other newer brands? What does it offer that newer brands may lack?
King Features has carefully managed Betty Boop’s career over time, selecting as licensees those companies with the finest quality in production and the broadest distribution at retail. In addition, the King Features creative team has continually refreshed the character’s image with exciting new artwork. Part of Betty’s attractiveness is the boldness of her graphics, which make the character very versatile, adaptable for almost any scenario. With her independent, sassy, star persona, Betty Boop has intrinsic appeal for today’s woman.
What have been some of the highlights for the brand?
Betty has been associated with some of the world’s top brands and retail names including Adidas, Iceberg, Nestlé, Marks & Spencer, H & M, Stefanel, Oysho, Target and Wal-Mart. We’re currently expanding the brand into non-traditional categories, such as computer peripherals and consumer electronics.
There’s lots of licensed product on the market. What areas do you find Betty Boop in? Who is the brand’s target audience?
Betty Boop appeals to women of all ages and all demographics. She transitions effectively from high-end boutique products to quality mass-market apparel and accessories.
How has the last 12 months been for Betty Boop?
This has been Betty’s most successful year ever, on a global basis.
What plans does Allsorts Licensing have for Betty Boop in the next 12 months?
More of the same. Managing a brand successfully is a full-time job.
Have you had to overcome any particular challenges with the brand?
The initial challenge 20 years ago when we developed our current licensing program was to position Betty Boop as more than a classical cartoon star. Happily, Betty Boop is a unique property, a personality and a brand.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
There are few true classic brands, but Betty is certainly one of them.