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Fruit pickings: Richard Pink talks the history and future of the Vimto brand in licensing

With the tagline ‘Seriously Mixed Up Fruit’, Vimto already spans a wealth of foods and drinks from Vimto Fudge packaged in artwork that will take consumers on a trip through the brand’s history, to the more contemporary looking, and sounding, Vimto Candy Spray. But with a new licensing agent in Pink Key Licensing and the food and beverage licensing specialist, Richard Pink himself, the Vimto brand is about to embark on a seriously new venture entirely.

It was earlier this month that Pink lifted the lid on his company’s new partnership with the Vimto brand, appointed to manage the non-food activity for the 110 year old brand here in the UK, marking the first time in its history that Vimto’s logo, slogans, and imagery would be thrust into the licensing limelight.

Armed with a library of designs spanning more than a century of Vimto, the programme, Pink declared, will cover both the depth of the Vimto archive, as well as the design and style of the contemporary brand. Now, as Richard Pink, MD of Pink Key Licensing prepares to showcase the brand’s style guides at the upcoming Festival of Licensing, Licensing.biz takes its chance to talk with Pink about how he got himself seriously mixed up with the fruity new brand.

Hello again, Richard! It’s clearly a busy year for Pink Key Licensing this year. Can you talk to us about the latest addition to the portfolio then, what attracted you to the Vimto brand and what does it bring to the Pink Key offering?

Vimto is a brand that I’ve always felt was a good fit for us. Its combination of heritage and contemporary styling as well as the product categories it lends itself to fits brilliantly into the business model we have already developed for our other brands. At the same time it has some unique features that mean that there is little or no conflict with our existing portfolio. 

What does the Vimto brand bring to the licensing space, spanning its 110 year heritage and its contemporary appeal?

While there are a number of brands that have heritage programmes, there are very few who also continue to change and develop the way that Vimto has. This is a unique combination that gives it the broadest possible appeal to the older consumer who will be drawn to the heritage aspects that play into what they remember growing up, but also the younger generation who see it as a brand for them. In addition there is an ‘Englishness’ about the brand that is at the core of its identity. 

So why is now the right time to be bringing the Vimto brand into the consumer products space for the first time? And, what are your plans to make this an impactful launch into the market?

The launch now is because the brand feels that the time is right for them – they have a proven track record of food licensing that they have made a great success of and they can see the value in also leveraging their unique heritage to consumers who have grown up with the brand. Our plan is to identify the categories and products that are the most natural fit for Vimto and build a platform from there for the long term. 

What is the strategy for tapping into both the heritage/vintage style of the brand, as well as its more modern look? 

We are very lucky as we feel like we have two distinct audiences to go after, and while there will be some product overlap it will mean the range of categories and styles will be bigger than it would have been with, for example, just the heritage.

If we know the kind of brands that catch your eye, Vimto will be one with a rich history and story to tell… How will you be telling that story through its licensing programme?

It think that’s going to come down to the licensee execution – the archive is a story in itself, and if the licensees feel that it’s appropriate to support what they do with the story of the development of Vimto, then we have all the tools they need to allow them to do it.

What is it about Vimto that keeps it relevant to audiences today? How big a part will licensing play in maintaining that?

The modern execution of the Vimto brand is very different to its heritage – the product stands for different things today, but it always carries its history with it. Part of the reason why it’s more popular now than it ever was, is because it hasn’t stood still, its adapted to consumer tastes and styles – our programme is going to reflect and re-enforce the brand position. 

What will be the first steps taken in this new partnership for you? What product categories do you think Vimto will perform best within?

It’s important to make sure that we’ve identified the categories that we think are most relevant. Obviously things related to the core product will be key such as drinkware, but the archive is almost an art gallery so that gives us endless possibilities for development into categories where this might work. 

If I know one thing about licensing – whatever you think will happen probably won’t! I could guess that housewares and food gifting will drive this programme but all it take is a retailer to find design they like for a T-shirt and the whole game could change!

How will you guys be pushing the envelope of innovation in licensing as you develop the portfolio?

It’s funny; the words ‘heritage’ and ‘innovation’ would seem to be mutually exclusive, but we’ve seen some great ideas from licensees we’ve worked with that has given a whole new take on the brands we manage that can make a difference. I’ve learnt that the more focus there is on innovation the more longevity there is in a programme. There are products that will be obvious for this programme and driven by the design from the style guides but we are always open to new ideas on any brand.

We want to hear from any licensees who think they can do a great job with this brand – the art we have available is amazing and we can’t wait to hear what licensees could do with it.

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