13 years later, the brand now has 30 licensees.
“It was certainly a big toe in the water at the time, but it gave us the confidence to branch out into other significant and diverse categories such as power tools, footwear and toys,” explains Sam Johnson, kids’ brand manager at JCB Consumer Products.
“There was always a firm belief within the JCB organisation that the brand has genuine awareness and broad appeal beyond the diggers it produces.
“The licensing programme was created to tap into this appeal and further raise the brand awareness amongst consumers in the home UK market and beyond.”
There are three broad licensing streams for JCB to date: kids, DIY/trade and telecommunications.
“Our kids’ programme is fuelled by the fascination that children have with our big yellow diggers and now embraces toys, clothing, publishing, DVD, greetings, homeware, ‘experiences’ (theme parks) and online,” Johnson says. “Our DIY and trade division utilises our brand’s heritage in creating innovative and strong products and covers categories such as safety footwear, power tools, garden tools, padlocks and heaters.
“Telecommunications is a relatively new area for JCB and launched in 2008 with the world’s toughest mobile phone – the JCB Toughphone.”
Traditionally, power and garden tools have been the driving force in the programme, with toys leading the way in kids. Indeed, the My 1st JCB line from Golden Bear has been a major step into the mainstream pre-school area for the firm.
“The reaction from the trade and consumers has been fantastic, particularly given that there is no TV show behind it,” enthuses Johnson. “Their success underlines not only the trust in the JCB brand, but also the quality of the characterisation expertly executed by Golden Bear.”
JCB is now planning to ramp up the programme surrounding My 1st JCB, with publishing from Peter Haddock, greetings from UK Greetings and ceramic and melamine ranges from Lifestyle Group/Royal Stafford. All will be launching later this year and will be followed by further categories including toiletries and apparel in 2010.
Other licensees include Halsall (master toy), Go Entertain (DVD), Rolly (pedal ride-ons) and Legoland Windsor (Digger Experience). “We’re keenly aware that boys from a certain age crave the ‘real’ thing and our licensed product offering continues to expand in this area,” Johnson says.
Having established its brand in the licensing arena in the UK, JCB is now keen to move further afield.
“As Europe’s number one construction brand, we are certainly known outside the UK and our toy lines for instance continue to sell well through several key territories such as Germany, France and Spain.
"However, our focus has undoubtedly been on establishing JCB as a consumer brand in the home UK market and we are keen to step up our licensing programme in Europe and beyond.
“To these ends, our recent appointment of LMI as our international licensing agents for certain key categories should help our expansion. These categories include apparel and ‘technology led’ products.”
Johnson concludes: “We have a firm belief that in five years time, JCB will be a much more internationally recognised brand for the consumer, not just in the construction industry.”