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INTERVIEW: Clare Piggott, VP Consumer Products, Nickelodeon UK - Licensing.biz

INTERVIEW: Clare Piggott, VP Consumer Products, Nickelodeon UK

Clare Piggott has something of an illustrious background within the licensing business; almost licensing royalty in fact.
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She began her career more than a decade ago at what was then Copyright Promotions, and is now CPLG. A significant stint at Mattel Brands Consumers Products as senior UK country manager followed, before she moved to take up the position of VP of consumer products at Nickelodeon UK in September.

Here, Piggott manages the toy category, involved in pitching for new rights, identifying new business opportunities and the retail marketing side of the business. She’s in no doubt that her previous background will stand her in good stead.

“I think it is about knowing sector, having experience in the industry and being able to draw on the relationships I have built up over the years,” Piggott explains to Licensing.biz. “We have a team of six people in the UK and three of them are category specific sales positions. We also have someone dedicated to retail marketing, so it is very much a full service department.”

Nickelodeon has a huge store of properties, but there’s no doubt that its flagship brands are Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob Squarepants – although Piggott is keen to point out that Go Diego Go and live action properties such as H2O are growing, too.

“For Dora we have around 90 licensees, which is a very significant number,” says Piggott. “There are opportunities, but these are more to do with meeting the current challenges of the market. The picture with SpongeBob is similar, although we have slightly fewer licensees, around 88. Significantly with SpongeBob, a lot of these licensees are new partners that have signed up within the past year, which is an indication of the continuing strength of the brand.”

According to NPD figures, Dora is the fifth biggest property for 0-14 year-old girls in the UK, with lead categories being toys and apparel. Crucially, the fact that Dora is such a massive hit shows that a successful licensing programme can be built for a show which is aired on a cable or satellite channel.

“With Dora, there was a great deal of demand before the product was actually available in this country; people were sourcing it online from the US for example,” Piggott continues. “I think that also Dora resonates with children – boys as well as girls – because she is what the title suggests, she’s an explorer, so there is action and adventure. Also the fact that we have 30 new episodes every year keeps things fresh.”

For 2008, Piggott is looking to maintain Dora’s performance, build on SpongeBob and develop Go Diego Go into a core boys brand for the three to six age group.

So does she think there’s a secret formula for creating a successful licensing and merchandising programme around a children’s TV show? Piggott laughs: “I think if there was we’d all be using it! Seriously I think it is about the quality of the broadcast platform and also the timing, this can be really important. Strong consumer products also help, especially if they can be spun out of the show. As well as good products, you also need strong partners and broad retail support and we have been very fortunate in that respect.”

Nickelodeon may be operating in a crowded market, but Piggott is confident regarding future success.

“I believe the key to success lies with good product innovation that will help you to stand out with parents and kids. Even though the market is very competitive at the moment we are still seeing year-on-year growth, so there is room there for the very best properties to succeed,” she concludes.

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