Trumps Tower

Winning Moves acquired the Top Trumps brand eight years ago, but it was getting The Simpsons licence that was the boost it needed to push it back into the spotlight. Samantha Loveday talks to Winning Moves? marketing director Carl Cliss and Carl Lumbard, senior VP and MD of Fox L&M...
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How did Top Trumps become involved with licensed properties?
Being such a successful licence with such rich characters and brilliant illustration, we were already half way there with the development of the Top Trumps pack. It was great fun and very exciting for us to work with such a strong licence at this early stage of the relaunch of Top Trumps, and it's true to say that the end result was exactly what we were (and the consumers) were after, as sales figures would testify.

At the time we started work on The Simpsons Top Trumps, we already had a good working relationship with Fox L&M, from the development of other licensed product, including The Simpsons Board Game.

It's true to say that the opportunities with the characters and content are pretty much endless, and could certainly not be exhausted in one Top Trumps pack with 30 character cards. Working closely with Fox we were able to develop a very strong pack that had broad appeal across The Simpsons consumer base.

The Simpsons Horror pack was launched at a time when we felt a refresh on the market would be appropriate. The success of this pack is an example of how this licence provides multiple opportunities for extension and more specific products.

In addition to the development of a strong product, we also worked with Fox to promote the products to raise awareness to consumers. Exclusive cards (Super Top Trumps) which were not in the retail product were used as a promotional tool via DVD inserts and website offers. This is a very effective method of raising awareness and getting product into consumers hands.

We are about to launch our third pack in the Classic Collection Series of three packs. This means The Simpsons has been the focus of 150 individual Top Trumps cards to date and shows the huge appeal of the characters and just how far they can go in terms of product.

How has the past 12 months been for the brand?
In addition to maintaining Top Trumps position as the UK's number one children's card game, we have been busy turning Top Trumps into a global brand. Top Trumps is now sold in the US and Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Turkey and, South Africa.

In the UK, we continuously refresh and renew our product-offering to ensure we have a strong and attractive range of titles, both licensed and generic, and believe the quality of the game and the strong game play along with the correct choice of titles continue to ensure the success of the brand.

Why do you think it has managed to maintain its popularity?

Top Trumps' core fans are children aged seven to 11, the age where their sponge-like brains are absorbing huge amounts of facts. They love learning and finding out more about the things that interest them. When you combine that with a strong, innate desire to show off their new-found knowledge to their parents, siblings and friends, Top Trumps is champ.

The game only takes about ten to 15 minutes to play, so kids have a good chance of convincing mums and dad to play a game, even if it's only one game and, it's a great way for children to entertain themselves in the school playground, during breaks. We have also branched out into interactive gaming.

What licences do you currently have? Which are the most popular?
Well, The Simpsons as we already talked about. Then there is The Dog, High School Musical, Harry Potter, Dr Who, Marvel, Top Gear and the Premiership football clubs - Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Newcastle and Spurs. Star Wars continues to be very popular. One of the great advantages of working with Top Trumps titles is that it's almost infinitely flexible.

Would you say that licensing has made the TT brand what it is today?
Until The Simpsons licence was obtained, Top Trumps was reliant on its name. Children of today did not know what Top Trumps were so, when we got The Simpsons licence this was the catalyst in getting the interest again. Basically, children who were into The Simpsons, saw the pack and bought it because they loved The Simpsons, thereafter they were hooked on the game and therefore began to buy Top Trumps for the gameplay as well. Licensing is now a major part of the brand and as a result licensed packs that have been produced can attract more children to the game.

What can we expect to see from TT this year and in early 2009 in terms of new licensed properties?
New titles for 2008 include Ben 10, Hannah Montana, Star Wars - The Clone Wars, Moto GP, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, amongst others. We work with all the major licensors, so I think it's safe to say that you'll see all the key properties given the Top Trumps treatment. Overseas, we've recently taken licences and developed packs with Asterix in France and, football clubs Ajax in The Netherlands and, Barcelona in Spain.

Carl Lumbard, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Fox L&M Europe

Why did you decide to licence The Simpsons for Top Trumps?
Eight years ago we were actively expanding The Simpsons licensing portfolio. At the same time Winning Moves were looking to reinvent the Top Trumps range and take it in a new direction. The timing was right for both brands and the well developed characters from The Simpsons provided a wealth of rich content that Winning Moves could explore for product development.

The first pack featuring The Simpsons enjoyed enormous success and we could see that this was likely to build into a long-standing partnership that would develop in line with The Simpsons brand.

Did you expect it to perform as well as it has done?
The marrying of these two mature brands had a phenomenal result. At launch, we obviously knew that The Simpsons was an exceptional brand which was performing well in all markets, but we were surprised (and of course very pleased) to see the immediate effect that the licence had on the Top Trumps range. The Simpsons branded Top Trumps have continued to perform well and over the eight year partnership and they have become the best selling subject within the range.

What can we expect to see in the future from The Simpsons and Top Trumps?
The next product to be released is The Simpsons Top Trumps Classic part three which will be out in the autumn. But with the brand’s continued popularity and endless character content, you can expect to see The Simpsons and Top Trumps partnership continuing to evolve.

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