How’s this for a story to tug on the heartstrings – ‘Little Ewe is lost and lonely, with only the wool on his small body to keep him safe and warm. He has one wish, to find his way home – but how? The more love, hugs and cuddles he gets from his friends on his journey home, the closer he feels’.
It was a story that Rob Corney and his firm Bulldog Licensing couldn’t resist, and Little Ewe became the first brand to be signed up.
“The benefit of a brand like Little Ewe is that, whilst it doesn’t perhaps have the overnight reach of a major TV property, the market into which it does reach is loyal and dedicated,” Corney explains. “Once a property gains traction in the area the returns are very lucrative and brands often show greater longevity than entertainment brands. Perhaps one of the biggest things making the design-led market quite difficult to negotiate is the sheer plethora of images that people mistakenly term ‘brands’, believing the barriers to entry in this market to be quite low.
“This damages the overall image of the market and makes people more wary of the sector, but simple licensing principles remain true – if something is going to gain cut-through it must fulfil a need, show excellence in its area or have something that you can’t get elsewhere.
“With Little Ewe, we’ve got the hottest new design-led property on the market because of the strength of its design – the barriers to entry are actually extremely high in this market and, by working with a team of impeccable pedigree and a concept that has immediate appeal, we have managed to break down that barrier.”
There are currently five licensees on board, developing everything from greetings cards to plush and resin collectables, while there is also a growing list of sub-agents handling the brand overseas: Kidz Entertainment is looking after Russia and Eastern Europe, while G Squared is just launching the programme in the US and Canada. The hunt is also on for further local agents in other major territories.
There certainly seems to be huge potential for the brand. Indeed, Corney says there is strong interest in both the apparel and homewares categories already, and he is waiting for phase two of the product releases before bringing these on board.
“With the style of the property, the brand can grow across a number of different markets ranging from baby to adult sentiment to humour and this is a process we are keen to manage carefully,” he says.
The response from retail, too, has been good. “Ever since the phenomenally successful launch of the property on Moonpig.com, the brand has continued to grow and will launch in late summer across greetings card retailers through Danilo. This consumer launch will coincide with major promotional activity which will make Little Ewe instantly recognisable across the UK. We believe this massive boost to the awareness of the brand will hugely increase the value and will build on the already impressive retail reaction.”
And, as well as working with Licensing.biz of course, Bulldog has further plans for marketing to build up awareness. “The launch of the consumer website and developing cross-referencing on product and packaging will really help to build the brand within the licensed product and Little Ewe will feature prominently on the Bulldog stand at Brand Licensing Europe,” Corney continues. “We are also developing a plan for a major consumer promotion across key retail partners involving a major charity in the UK and will be on hand to work with local agents to roll out similar initiatives in international markets.”