Brand Profile: Cut the Rope - Licensing.biz

Brand Profile: Cut the Rope

Trudi Hayward, SVP, Head of Global Merchandising, ITV Studios Global Entertainment, tells Licensing.biz why the licensing plan for Cut the Rope looks set to gain momentum in 2014
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When did you first get involved with Cut The Rope?

ITV Studios Global Entertainment was appointed as licensing agent across all countries in the European Union for ZeptoLab’s massively successful game Cut the Rope early in 2012.

Can you give me a recent history of the game and its success? 

Cut the Rope is one of the longest running and most established gaming app successes. It currently sits at number four in the most popular paid apps of all time list on the iTunes App Store, and is enormously popular on other platforms; infact, it now boasts over 400 million downloads worldwide.

Cut the Rope creator ZeptoLab keeps the game fresh and exciting with new levels to complete while popular spin-off games such as Cut the Rope: Time Travel (number one action game and in the top three overall games in all markets within weeks of launching), Cut the Rope: Experiments and the upcoming Cut the Rope 2 have been developed to meet continuing demand from fans.

And cute, lovable, cheeky Om Nom, the game’s undoubted star, is a major part of the success of the game and the licensed brand. App brands need to have characters that can become recognisable in their own right to translate to licensing. In Om Nom we have one of the most memorable characters of recent years. In fact he’s the focus of possibly the biggest recent news: the arrival of Om Nom Stories, a series of one to two minute animated adventures, on CITV. The series follows the adventures of Om Nom, and his insatiable quest for candy.

Om Nom Stories has had a great response already, which is not surprising when you consider that on YouTube it’s had an unbelievable 100 million views globally and is a massive hit with the target audience of kids aged from 5-11. As well as CITV and YouTube, Gulli in France, Clan in Spain and Kaiser in Germany are airing the animated shorts on television or online.

What is the demographic for the game and who are you targeting with licensing?

The game has an appeal to all ages, but in particular teenagers and phone-using young adults. The core audience for the licensing programme is girls and boys aged four to teen. However, the cute and mischievous Om Nom appeals to a very wide-ranging demographic. That is part of the attraction of the brand for licensees: product innovation can vary to target different groups.

How do you pick your licensees? What guidelines do you make them follow when producing Cut the Rope products?

We work with market leaders in all categories. We especially favour licensees that can bring the brand, game or Om Nom character to life through creativity and innovation. Smith and Brooks’ apparel lines, Vivid's collectables and Pedigree’s innovative Zappa-led annual are just a few examples. There are many others! We’re not prescriptive. The only guidelines we follow are those contained in the style guide. If a licensee has a fantastic idea we'll work with them to make it happen.

What are the main challenges of managing Cut The Rope?

When Cut the Rope first emerged, gaming app-based brands were in their infancy. The fact that more and more people were actually interacting with apps as brands just like they would with traditional brands based on TV or publishing was not always clear to retail. Therefore we needed to work a little harder with retail partners to explain Cut the Rope’s appeal, audience and potential. That’s changing of course: today Cut the Rope is a leading member of a growing group of successful app-based brands. Awareness is huge — and that definitely includes retail and licensing.

How many licensees do you currently have, and in which categories?

We have 27 licensees in the UK and 52 across Europe in total. They are managed by our trusted and carefully chosen network of Cut the Rope sub-agents. Most of the licenses with the most success so far have been in the toy, publishing and apparel categories. The Vivid collectables line has been a notable hit in grocers. 

How much DTR do you do with Cut the Rope?

Two significant examples of direct to retail success come from Spain. Bershka, an innovative retail format for young people who are interested in and highly aware of new trends, developed two girls’ t-shirts and two hoodies for its Spanish stores. Another direct-to-retail deal with the major department store group El Corte Ingles focused on kids’ fashion, back to school and publishing and was further boosted by a major cross-category promotion with other ranges.

Outside of licensed DTR deals we work very closely with retailers on in-store activities and branding. The Entertainer, which has 83 stores in the UK and stocks thousands of products online at TheToyShop.com, launched a major Cut the Rope promotion across all its outlets at the end of August, with in-store competitions, branded window space, out of aisle branded FSDU, and character visits. The result was 60 per cent toy sell uplift supporting the Vivid range.

What are the most recognisable touch points for the brand? When people think about Cut the Rope, what comes to mind?

Om Nom! He’s a true star — especially now that he’s got his own TV series!

How do you look to capitalise on these features in the licensing programme?

We try to use Om Nom in lots of different ways - for instance in the Nommies range of collectables, with 20+ different versions to collect so far — with more on the way!

And of course ZeptoLab has developed a comprehensive style guide with lots of the elements from the game that can be used in different patterns and icons. This keeps the creative treatment fresh.

What are the best selling Cut the Rope products?

Cut the Rope is doing well in a number of categories but the Vivid Nommies, combining quality, collectability and affordable price points are leading in volume terms. In publishing, the Cut the Rope joke book from Simon & Schuster has been one of Asda's top five sellers over the summer period.

Where do you go from here with the brand?

The brand is gaining momentum throughout Europe, boosted not just by multiple versions and levels of the hit game but by newspaper competitions, in-app advertising, consumer promotions, the growing licensee list — and now animated short films.

That diversity underlines our and ZeptoLab’s aim for the brand: to develop Cut the Rope into a truly 360° media entertainment franchise with a presence that extends beyond digital games into TV, social media, the web, consumer products and even a forthcoming game show.

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