“In an age where technology is king, and much of the media that children consume is very passive, print is more active – parents can see their children actively engaging with print, whether through reading, using their brains or putting pen to paper.” Chris Dicey, group account director for kids for John Brown Media explains the relationship between the publishing and licensing industries.
John Brown’s first product created under licence was Disney’s Magic English series. Since then, the company’s expertise has grown considerably to cover a host of different properties.
Although the company doesn’t licence properties itself for commercial development, it works with many clients who do – both licensees and licensors. The work produced in the children’s department covers a variety of executions – magazines, part-works, books, teaching resources and educational materials, websites, advertising and even board games, stickers, cards, posters and other marketing materials.
John Brown is the UK’s largest customer publishing agency and produces magazines, catalogues, digital work, brand communications, kids content, PR, events and more for a range of clients.
In 2003, the firm acquired children’s publisher Act-Two, which was consequently re-branded John Brown Junior. Dicey explains: “With it [Act-Two] came the expertise in children’s content that has been developed to enable us to work successfully across many brands and licences.”
Act-Two was formed originally as a publisher called Toucan, specialising in original children’s books and from there, the move into licensed publishing began.
Alongside the children’s publishing side of the business, the firm also works within the digital arena and Junk Monkeys, its digital contribution to the British Heart Foundation’s ‘Food4Thought’ campaign, won the Best-of-the-Best Grand Prix prize at the NMA Effectiveness Awards.
Licences John Brown Media has worked on for its clients are wide ranging and include some of the leading brands in the children’s market - Dora the Explorer, Shrek, Angelina Ballerina, Postman Pat, Noddy, Angelina Ballerina, Go Diego Go!, Backyardigans, Ben 10, SpongeBob SquarePants, Lazytown, Sesame Street, Wonderpets, Thomas the Tank Engine, Winnie the Pooh, Harry Potter, High School Musical and the Simpsons.
Dicey explains the firm’s success in the kids' market: “The majority of our work covers kids who fall into Key Stage one and two, although we also produce pre-school content. We understand what will appeal to boys and girls of all age-groups, and our dedicated kids’ editorial and creative team work closely with the licensors to ensure that the creative they produce is true to both the brand and the audience.”
Further to the kids brand market, the firm is also responsible for representing brand values of many organisations and the initiatives they want to communicate with their audiences including BSkyB, Chelsea FC, Emirates Airlines, Plan UK, British Heart Foundation and MEND.
The past year has been successful for the firm and Dicey comments: “We have enjoyed a very fruitful year, working with our clients and producing content for many great licences.”
Going forward, Dicey believes that in order to overcome the economic situation, firms need to produce cutting edge products and stay ahead of the competition: “The pressure is on within the industry to cut costs whilst still producing fantastic results, and this is something that John Brown delivers.”
To communicate this service, John Brown will be launching a brand new website this year.