MY LIFE IN LICENSING: Rob Corney

Having successfully set up Bulldog last year, Corney has been adding clients at a strong rate, including TWF and Little Ewe amongst others. But what he'd really like is the licence to print money...
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Name:
Rob Corney

Time spent in licensing industry:
About eight years. I joined the media on the Carlton TV Graduate Management Scheme, where they placed me in three-month blocks across the TV industry and, having spent three months with the Carlton International licensing team, I decided this was the career for me.

First job in licensing:
Licensing exec for Carlton Licensing.

What were your responsibilities?

Working mainly on the relaunch of Thunderbirds. I was lucky enough to represent all of the key Gerry Anderson properties and the cult TV programmes from the ATV library - The Prisoner, Space 1999, UFO, etc - as well as working across the biggest English language film library outside of Hollywood with titles such as The Shawshank Redemption and Brief Encounter.
As well as licensing the major kids' brands, I was also tasked with trying to raise incremental revenue from this catalogue and ended up negotiating the first ever newspaper DVD film covermount (Brief Encounter and The Ipcress File with The Mail on Sunday).

Current job in licensing:
Managing director of Bulldog Licensing, an agency which specialises in representing British creative talent to the rest of the world and in bringing the best international properties into the UK for our domestic clients.

What are your responsibilities?

The thought driving the set-up of Bulldog was to provide licensing services within an environment that can make decisions quickly in a reactive retail market. Based on experience within the market, one of the major ways to speed things up was to only work with creative talent based in a territory in which Bulldog has offices (currently the UK) and to represent overseas brands only as a sub-agent where the relationship is a commercial one with another licensing agency based in the same territory as their licensor. It is this relationship between agent and licensor that is key to providing a rapid service to licensees both in terms of contractual dealings and approvals processes.
This arrangement allows us to move very quickly when decisions need to be made as both licensing agent and licensor are very close to each others' business both metaphorically and geographically. By speeding these processes up and protecting them with close relationships, we have a major advantage over many of our rivals and can go from handshake to long form in a week as opposed to the many months it can take with some of the bigger agencies.
By outsourcing our legal, financial, design and PR services to external agencies, the business can grow in a streamlined manner and these outside services remain focused on our needs in order to retain our business - essentially, we can offer the power of a major agency with none of the overheads. My main responsibility is to ensure all of this works smoothly and handle the day-to-day communication with licensees.

What is your greatest achievement so far?
I've been very privileged to have worked on some great properties and with some fantastic people across the industry. Re-launching Bullseye was a great achievement as it wasn't a 'hot' property at the time and I will always be grateful to John Mariani (now with Drumond Park) for his support in making this possible and working to turn it into a great licensing opportunity.
But certainly, my greatest achievement to date is in taking the decision to leave the security of a good job in order to form Bulldog Licensing. With a very specific purpose in mind, we have managed to create a very stable company with a portfolio to rival any licensing agency in just over a year.
To be representing the most watched kids' show with a licensing programme (Thumb Wrestling Federation), a property with the strongest pedigree and greatest potential of any on the market (Orsum Island) and one of the strongest design properties on the market (Little Ewe) after such a short time is something of which I am very proud and which we are building on with our other excellent brands.

What is the best licence you have worked on so far in your career?
In terms of properties that are living up to their potential, I would have to say Thumb Wrestling Federation. Pulling in more viewers than any other licensed property in the UK and building on a classic play pattern, this property has the makings of a massive hit.

What licence would you most like to have in your portfolio?
Outside of the licences that we currently represent, I would most like to have the licence to print money.

If you could choose your dream job in licensing, what would it be and why?
After years of blank expressions, any job that's easier to describe to friends and family! Actually, I can't think of a better role than I currently have, running a successful licensing company that is specifically designed to cut down bureaucracy and promote great brands at a regional and international level.

What's the best thing about working in the licensing industry?
Not only are there some great people in the business, but the work is always interesting and varied. I remember meeting up with some friends one evening after work. One of them, a banker, grabbed his drink and downed half of it before revealing he'd lost a fortune on the markets that day; one of the others did similarly - as an accountant he was really struggling with a tough audit... I don't think I eased the situation when I revealed I'd spent the day discussing lingerie and bikinis with Kelly Brook.

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