From The Editor Welcome to Edition 39 of The Bugg Report Magazine. This edition kicks off with news from HeadStart, BBC Studios, Merchantwise, Asembl. Brands, Blue Chip Brands and Haven.
Following on from Marty we hear from Darran Garnham, Founder/CEO of Toikido. Darran tells us all about the first year in business for his new Toy Company Toikido and what's to come.
Showtime Attractions are back better than ever with the return of the Sesame Street Circus Spectacular, Gabby’s Dollhouse, Minions: The Rise of Gru, Cocomelon and Blue’s Clues & You. We took some time early in November to have a chat to Keith Brown about what has been happening at Showtime Attractions and what is coming up leading into Christmas and in 2022.
Alice Sanderson, Executive Manager of the Australian Toy Association, provides an update on the 2022 Toy Hobby & Licensing Fair. The event will take place in March 2022 and Alice outlines the opportunities available for those looking to exhibit.
We then move onto a feature by Products of Change, which focuses on green energy. The new initiative by Products of Change is focused on encouraging sustainable practices across consumer industries globally. Next up we speak to Marty Malysz, President at Dependable Solutions, Inc. Marty provides an update on the business, the challenges faced over the past 18 months and the success of the Licensing Automation Summit.
We then have some regular writers who have put together columns including The New Age of Digital by Isabel Wu, According to Downsey by Ian Downs and How to Gain Market Share by Christie Nicholas. To close out this edition we have Steven Ekstract who has put together a feature on Returning to Business IRL (in real life) and how important face-to-face meetings are for the licensing industry. We hope that you enjoy this edition and thanks again for reading!
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Inside this Edition News Updates
Interview: Keith Brown, Showtime Attractions
Feature: Products of Change — Bringing the Green Energy
Interview: Marty Malysz, Dependable Solutions
Interview: Darran Garnham, Toikido
Update: Toy Hobby & Licensing Fair 2022
Column: The New Age of Digital — Edition 5
Column: According to Downsey — Edition 14
Column: How to Gain Market Share — Edition 6
Feature: A Return to Doing Business IRL
HEADSTART LAUNCHES NEW RANGE OF RESOFTABLES HeadStart has launched a new Resoftables range into Walmart in the US. Resoftables are made using 100% household plastic waste and the packaging is made from recycled cardboard. Each 9” Resoftables toy is manufactured from approximately 4 recycled plastic bottles. As the range of Resoftables grows, HeadStart will have repurposed more than 6 million plastic bottles by the end of 2021. HeadStart are also building on the Resoftables ethos with the hands-on ranges of Replayables active outdoor toys and Rebuildables building blocks, made with the intention to achieve even greater levels of sustainability and repurpose more than 10 million recycled plastic bottle caps by the end of 2021. Every product in the complete Resoftables range is GRS-certified (Global Recycled Standard), so families can look forward to positive ecofriendly play that kids, and the planet, will love. READ MORE
BLUEY PUTS PEN TO PAPER ON CRAYOLA PARTNERSHIP BBC Studios has agreed to a multi-territory licensing deal, including Australia and New Zealand, with Crayola for stationery, arts, crafts and colouring packs further expanding its global licensing portfolio for the multi-award-winning Bluey. The first products to hit the shelves will be Giant Colouring Pages which will be available at Walmart in the US in time for the holiday season. Licensing deal covers Australia and New Zealand, US, Canada as well as the UK where the range will be available in January 2022. Crayola joins a growing roster of top tier Bluey licensees including Moose Toys, Penguin Random House, VTech and Stor. READ MORE
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THE OFFICIAL TRAILER FOR THE BEATLES: GET BACK IS HERE! Disney+ has released the trailer and key art for the upcoming three-part series “The Beatles: Get Back.” The Disney+ original docuseries, directed by Peter Jackson, will be arriving on Disney+ just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. Made entirely from never-before-seen, restored footage, it provides the most intimate and honest glimpse into the creative process and relationship between John, Paul, George, and Ringo ever filmed. CLICK THE VIDEO TO WATCH THE TRAILER
ASEMBL PARTNERS UP STREETS’ PADDLE POP ICE-CREAM Unilever Australia’s licensing agency, Asembl has partnered up Streets’ Paddle Pop ice-cream with Australia’s favourite sleepwear retailer, Peter Alexander. Launching this month as part of Peter Alexander’s Wander Down Under campaign, the first-time Paddle Pop short and t-shirts pieces include a women’s pyjama set and one for men. The summer sleepwear sets feature the classic and iconic Paddle Pop branding and imagery. READ MORE
STEVE MCQUEEN X MR SIMPLE APPAREL COLLAB LAUNCHES Australian menswear brand Mr Simple has launched a Steve McQueen apparel collaboration in a deal brokered by local licensing representative — Blue Chip Brands. It was only a matter of time before Australian menswear brand Mr Simple and The King of Cool collided. Arguably the biggest style icon of the ’60s and ’70s, McQueen was either an actor who liked to race or a racer who liked to act. READ MORE
GURU STUDIO TAPS HAVEN LICENSING Toronto-based children’s content producer Guru Studio is delighted to announce the appointment of Haven Licensing as its licensing agent in Australia for its hit series True and the Rainbow Kingdom and newest preschool series Pikwik Pack. Haven will lead the licensing program for both brands in Australia across all consumer products and L&M including toys and games, apparel, publishing, housewares, accessories, food and drink, and live events. Having previously acquired True and the Rainbow Kingdom Seasons 1 to 3, 9Go! has quickly acquired season four which launched in May 2021 and is now airing every weekday at 9:30am and weekends at 8:00am. Pikwik Pack is currently available on Disney+ in Australia and New Zealand. READ MORE
FLUFFALUFF PETS TURN PILLOWS INTO DREAMY PETS Fluffaluff Pets are pillows you can stuff — a fuzzy, furry head to make you giggle, and a colourful, matching pillow slip you can fill with your favourite, most huggable pillow, to make sleep-time or snuggle-time as sweet as can be! Playtime... naptime... ANYTIME! With a full-size pillow slip that you can stuff and a secret, zip-up pocket, Fluffaluff Pets are perfect for ages 3-8 but, really, are you ever too old to enjoy a way to make your pillow even more playful? Fluffaluff Pets™ let you snap on & off the full-size pillow slip for easy, keep-clean care. Fluffaluff Pets are your new, go-anywhere fluffy friends that are ideal for sweetdreaming sleepovers, or travel time that’s cute and comfy. READ MORE
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UNDER LICENSE FROM Sesame Street© and associated characters, trademarks,and design elements are owned and licensed by Sesame Workshop. © 2021 Sesame Workshop. All rights reserved.
INTERVIEW KEITH BROWN DIRECTOR SHOWTIME ATTRACTIONS
We Speak to Keith Brown, Director at Showtime Attractions Interview by Matthew Bugg, Editor at The Bugg Report
It has been quite some time since The Bugg Report had the chance to sit down and speak to the Director of Showtime Attractions, Keith Brown. The last time we did speak to Keith, he had just launched the Sesame Street Circus Spectacular, which was soon after put on hold due to world issues that have now gone on for close to two years. It is however very encouraging to see that the Sesame Street Circus Spectacular has now returned and it looks like Showtime Attractions will also return stronger than ever. We recently had the chance to ask Keith some questions about the last two years, the circus, the Showtime Attractions portfolio of brands and what is coming up towards the end of 2021 and leading into 2022. Hi Keith, it is good to speak to you again after a long period of uncertainty in the world. How are things at Showtime Attractions from an overall perspective?
Showtime Attractions has the Australian rights to deliver the latest and most iconic licensed characters in family entertainment and delivers events nationally and internationally. Showtime Attractions enjoys strong business relationships with major worldwide brands, including: Sesame Street, DreamWorks, Illumination, NBCUniversal, ABC, BBC Studios, Nickelodeon, and many others.
We were very lucky to have many loyal staff that supported us through this pandemic and for that I am very grateful. — Keith Brown 08
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Well all I can say is that Showtime Attractions has made it through the toughest 24 months that I have ever encountered in the entertainment business. We were very lucky to have many loyal staff that supported us through this pandemic and for that I am very grateful. There were many licensors that also reached out to assist during these difficult times and for that I would like to thank them and their staff. So Keith, the Sesame Street Circus Spectacular is now back in full swing, how is it all going? Due to the global pandemic and state restrictions throughout 2020/2021, our initial two year contract that we initially had with Sesame Street for the Circus Spectacular event meant we were only able to be on the road with shows for 6 months during that time. Haven Licensing have been amazing in their assistance to help keep the show on the road during this time. With a new three year contract and Australian tour in place, the show will re-open on the 1st December 2021 with Sesame Street Circus featuring a Christmas twist and then we will be touring Sydney locations for the next 12 months and then moving the show up to Queensland.
The Sesame Street Circus Spectacular
You work with many licenses so I am curious to hear about your current portfolio and what are some highlights? Even though things have been quiet, we have been working hard to keep up with market trends and what's on offer. I can advise that we have many new productions on their way in 2022... • • • • • • • • •
Cocomelon Jurassic World Dominion Blue’s Clues & You! Minions: The Rise of Gru Snoopy Care Bears Gabby's Dollhouse Spirit And a new exhibition to arrive very soon
I assume it will be a busy end to 2021 for Showtime Attractions. What is coming up over Christmas and New Year that people can look forward to seeing? Showtime Attractions is coming back fast throughout this busy period! Our shopping centre clients are investing in entertainment to welcome back shoppers. Christmas is shaping up to be a very positive and exciting event season for Showtime Attractions Australia wide.
So how do you see 2022 shaping up for Showtime Attractions? 2022 has all the indications of being a very successful year for Showtime Attractions and our upcoming events. What's the best way to get in touch with Showtime Attractions, both for events and collaborations? First port of call would be to contact our head office in Melbourne or email us. Our team can then put you in touch with one of our state sales representatives! (03) 9770 8000 firstname.lastname@example.org
FEATURE PRODUCTS OF CHANGE BRINGING THE GREEN ENERGY
Products of Change: Bringing the green energy In the short time since its launch just a few years ago, Products of Change has quickly grown into an international coalition of green-minded experts looking to encourage sustainable change across the consumer industries in all markets around the globe. The platform’s editor, Robert Hutchins sits down with The Bugg Report to tell us more! It was at the Sustainability in Licensing Conference (SILC) held only this year, that the international toy company — and one of New Zealand’s fastest growing — Zuru, first unveiled its plans to sustainably overhaul its two largest global brands: Mini Brands and Mini Toys. The announcement made headlines across the trade press. A toy company with the might and reach such as Zuru’s was stepping up yet again on the environmental front and removing all virgin plastic from the production of its two world-leading brands. Products of Change founder, Helena MansellStopher and Editor, Robert Hutchins attended the launch event for Aqua + Rock's Covent Garden store this September. The premium brand has been celebrated for pioneering new sustainable measures in high end fashion, with notable achievements that include innovating a bio-circular leather that can be returned to nature as an organic fertiliser once it has reached the end of its life. Aqua + Rock's founder, Dea Baker has been recognised with a Drapers award for delivering real innovation to an industry working to increase its sustainability measures.
And the fact that it used the SILC21 conference as the platform upon which to announce the move to the world, well that was a particular feather in the cap for the UK outfit, Products of Change. The driving force behind the SILC banner, Products of Change is a UK-based resource and media hub for the sustainability movement within the consumer products arena. Its workstreams span all corners of the entertainment and licensing business, from video games and sport, to fashion, greetings, and toys — with everything else in between. Established by its CEO and founder, Helena Mansell-Stopher, the Products of Change platform has quickly grown into a global-reaching coalition of minds and expertise, with tendrils that reach deep into the Canadian, US, European, and now the Australian and New Zealand markets. Its mission? To inspire and encourage real sustainable change across industries through the provision of resources and access to experts across the fields — from net zero to the circular economy — playing both an advisory and content sharing role in how businesses and individuals can implement the necessary changes to work towards a greener and more prosperous future. And it all arrives during what can be described as an interesting time for the ANZ region and its relationship with the topic of sustainability and climate change. COP26 — the UN Climate Change Action summit held in Glasgow just this month — has been the canvas upon which the obscurity of that relationship has been drawn. EDITION 39
New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, for example, was quick to update the country’s climate targets ahead of the conference, pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2030, while the Australian government has faced criticism for hosting a fossil fuel company at its own pavilion during the event, evidence that within some parties, the issue has some rather large crinkles left to be ironed out. Thankfully, Products of Change places its attention at the heart of where action can and is being taken, and swiftly — and central to that is the shift in thinking of the local consumer. “ANZ is seeing a shift in consumption as consumers no longer see sustainability as a ‘nice to have’ and instead as an uncompromisable necessity,” says Amelia Jory, marketing manager at Zuru and one among the team to drive its recent sustainability agenda. “For many customers, this heavily impacts what they decide to purchase. They do, however, see this responsibility sitting predominantly with businesses and expect more from corporates to ensure they are taking the best measures possible to be more eco-led.”
Pictured right is the Sustainability Activation in partnership with Products of Change, set to take centre stage at Brand Licensing Europe at London's ExCeL this month. The Activation boasts six zones dedicated to showcasing the latest in innovation from the sustainability space, including activations from UK retailers Tesco and Asda, the Eden Project, The Natural History Museum, Teemill, Newlife Charity and more.
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The Products of Change Advisors panel (pictured left to right) is made up of Andrea Green, June Kirkwood, Arthur Parry, and Cathy Teasdale. Andrea Green leads the Advisors panel in the US and joins Kirkwood, Parry, and Teasdale in bringing a wealth of sustainable licensing expertise to the Products of Change platform.
And Zuru is one among them, moving ahead confidently with its sustainable packaging and product strategy, even in the face of the current manufacturing climate, as it strives to make sustainability a ‘key pillar for 2022 and beyond.’ “We are part of a shifting tide in manufacturing and consumer goods, being held more accountable by those younger, more conscious consumers, and we are committed to doing our part,” added Jory. “A key factor in building out these programmes, of course, is making them purposeful, practical, and avoiding the g word — greenwashing.” And that is the yard stick by which not only companies around the globe serious about their sustainable journey measure themselves, but so too does the Products of Change community. In fact, Products of Change’s audience is one that strives to encourage its peers to make larger and more meaningful change. It’s a platform devised to nudge companies away from greenwashing by showcasing the innovation and pioneering attitudes at play in driving a real systemic shift. It’s why at Brand Licensing Europe this year, you’ll find on the Sustainability Activation in partnership with Products of Change a curated cocktail of creatives on the environmental front. From major UK retailers Asda and Tesco who have striven to deliver better sustainable measures to their millions of UK customers, to the likes of Teemill (a recycled fast fashion expert), Aqua + Rock (a premium fashion brand pioneering bio-circular leather among other natural inventions), the Eden Project, Natural History Museum, and other leading toy names such as Mattel and LEGO. There will even be the chance to schedule a one-to-one meeting with Products of Change’s own Advisors panel of experts across sustainable licensing; June Kirkwood, Arthur Parry, and Cathy Teasdale. The platform’s US Ambassador, Andrea Green will also be on hand to talk to any international companies looking to extend their sustainability activity across the Atlantic, while POC's Spanish ambassador, Leonora Aixas will be on hand for those looking to make waves across Europe. As the recently concluded discussions in Glasgow this month have highlighted, a united front is our best chance in the fight against climate change. The licensing and consumer products industry is an endlessly creative one, and we have a real moment to deliver a new, sustainable, and regenerative industry; one that looks to re-balance and work alongside nature. You can take your first steps towards that future by joining the first Products of Change Australia and New Zealand meeting in February 2022, and put a new feather in your cap, too. INTERESTED IN JOINING PRODUCTS OF CHANGE? If you’re interested in joining the Products of Change membership hub, feel free to reach out to the team: Helena Mansell-Stopher: Helena@productsofchange.com Robert Hutchins: Rob@productsofchange.com
You can check out the latest news and developments, and sign up to the Products of Change twice weekly newsletter via the website. www.productsofchange.com
INTERVIEW MARTY MALYSZ PRESIDENT DEPENDABLE SOLUTIONS, INC
Licensing Automation We Speak to Marty Malysz, President of Dependable Solutions, Inc. Interview by Matthew Bugg, Editor at The Bugg Report
It has been some time since The Bugg Report had the chance to speak to Marty Malysz, the President of Dependable Solutions, Inc. It is always great to chat with Marty because his passion for the business and people always shines through and his always-positive outlook on life is refreshing. We spoke to Marty in early November to hear about how things are doing at Dependable Solutions. Hey Marty! It has certainly been a while since we have spoken, so as a general update how are things going?
Marty is the President of Dependable Solutions, Inc. helping brand licensing operations automate their financial, contractual and product approval processes. Marty manages a 40 person team at Dependable Solutions, Inc. providing licensing software systems that automate the complex tasks related to royalties, approvals and contracts while improving business intelligence and business revenues. Dependable Solutions has clients in the USA, Australia, Spain, Sweden, Canada, France, United Kingdom, Finland and Netherlands. Marty has 30+ years of experience automating over 400 entertainment, sports, corporate brand and trademark licensing companies around the world.
We've done a lot of restructuring for some of our clients especially the CPG clients, the game clients, the sports clients, and the concert business clients (even though stadiums weren’t full), helping them get ready for the business. — Marty Malysz
Good. It's actually been surprisingly well. My heart goes out to everybody who's affected by COVID. A lot of our employees have been directly affected by COVID by having it or indirectly affected by their family contracting it and suffering loss including life. So, it's been a trying time. Five million people have passed away and many more people have been affected by COVID. One of the things that we've noticed is that everybody knows somebody who's been directly affected by COVID including about 10 of our employees that have had either breakthrough COVID or got it before the vaccines were available. While things are going well in our business, I don't want to take anything away from the tragedy of what's happened over the last 20 months. Being a service based business, I would imagine that you've been working quite closely with your partners over the past 18 months to assist them through a challenging period of time? We've been able to restructure our business. Over this time, the company itself has expanded. We've added at least 15 people, although we haven't met any of them in person because of COVID. Some exciting times are coming up and we’ll actually get to meet some of our new people. For our clients, it’s been both great and bittersweet. We've done a lot of restructuring for some of our clients especially the consumer packaged goods (CPG) clients, the game clients, the sports clients, and the concert business clients (even though stadiums weren’t full), helping them get ready for the business. And now everything is getting active once again. But during the past 18 months, game companies and CPG companies have done very well. We've been doing a lot more work with them so our business has not suffered. Even though some clients have gone out of business, we found that we've added many new clients and re-engaged with a lot of our clients. EDITION 39
Can you tell us a little bit about the Licensing Automation Summit? We coined the term Licensing Automation Summit a dozen years ago. For the last 11 or so years, we’ve had a client summit that we hosted in Los Angeles and then branched out to include London. This is where Dependable Solutions customers present to other customers the best ways to conduct their businesses, obviously using our software. It's been hugely popular. A lot of people would come out to the physical event but during COVID we couldn't host it in-person. I still have a deposit at the Marina del Rey Hotel that has yet to be used from two years ago. What we found though was that clients really liked learning from other clients. It was open palms sharing, finding out how people dealt with partners (licensees, agents, brand owners) and also with the system and how it helps support their business. We also have a very robust system, but some people are much more advanced in using it. Some have used it for 10 or more years while others are brand new. So the exchange of information is great. We're going to go back to doing an in-person summit next year here in Los Angeles but we'll keep the hybrid aspect of it alive both here and in Europe. Europe will probably stay remote because it was hard for people to get from country to country. The Licensing Automation Summit is really a client-based summit that helps them run better business processes. Everybody at the summit is a customer of ours; there are no vendors. We do a little bit of education but we really let our customers teach themselves. And it's been a huge success for the last 11 years. We often see that with great challenges come opportunity and I'm curious to know if there are any great opportunities that have come to be as a result of a difficult time for everyone? Yes, definitely. I think the biggest one we found was we were (and still are) a software vendor, but we've become more of a service company with software being one of our services. We’ve changed our mindset because we recognized that we can give you a piece of software but if you don't want to use it it's just a paperweight on your desk. So the ability for us to go in and help people cross the line, show them how to use the systems, show them how we can be of greater service to them whether helping them out when they're buying new catalogs, selling out parts of their business, or even exiting the business. And that's one of the things that we've appreciated during this time. Because people have needed extra help and it's been hard to find people to fill even shortterm work. We're the company in this space that has the most amount of people on our client services team and consultants available to us. They've all been tapped. We've been extremely busy helping our clients keep up and running or acquiring or, in certain cases, wrapping
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We’ve changed our mindset because we recognized that we can give you a piece of software but if you don't want to use it it's just a paperweight on your desk. — Marty Malysz up and exiting the business and getting that data out of the system. So it's been a lot of client work. Our clients truly appreciated the work. We've learned to trust them more and they’ve learned to trust us more on what we can do for them. We went from being a vendor to a partner and that's been great during this time. The other side is financing. There's been a lot of financing around the world in each economy to help people stay in business. I know in Australia, there was a lot of money available to keep people in business. So people had to examine and reformulate their business to make them more efficient. We are part of that. We've actually expanded our business in Australia during this time. It was a great time to restructure our business because we had to. Now we've been working remote the whole time. We have 40 people working remotely. We have taken an office in London and we have one in Los Angeles. We rarely go to it. But, as you can tell, I'm working from home myself today during this interview, but it is something that we've all learned to be extremely proficient at home with multiple monitors, better access, multiple cameras, better microphones. And so that's really something that's changed during this time. And it's made us a stronger partner. It's made our customers stronger. I also think because people are working from home, it makes them more vulnerable– sharing, understanding what their business is, how many pets they have, the kids, the schools, everything that had to happen because of COVID has really built us closer to our clients and especially our employees. As things start to come back together, I noticed that you've recently attended the UK Licensing Awards. I imagine that it is great to get back out and about? I think for everybody who knows us and our company, we love coming to see people and we love events. We've been a constant supporter of the Australian Toy Hobby and Licensing Fair in March in Australia, physically and also as a sponsor, as well as Bugg Marketing and all your efforts to keep the licensing industry alive and thriving during this time. Even Licensing Awards has turned out to be a blast. We are always in on these awards shows. During this time, we've landed new clients in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and throughout Sweden. So the focus marketing is something that's here to stay. Thanks to a client in Australia, we’ve redone all of our language translations so that we are actually native both internally and externally with all our systems. We work in every
With things still being confirmed, do you have any plans to come back to Australia any time soon?
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language, on computers as well as striving to speak that language internally, wherever we can. Those kinds of things have changed us dramatically and you'll see us doing a lot of marketing in country next year, including Australia. We've been blessed with four clients now and look forward to having some more as we have a couple active prospects that we're currently talking to. You also attended The Sports Merchandise and Licensing Show as well? Yeah, that was good. We've been really fortunate working with the EPL teams for the last eight years. And this is a show that's onsite at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea Football Club plays. It's been well attended. It was a great chance for Rhys Fleming, one of our new and native team members in the UK, to get together and spend some quality time there. We also got to meet with a lot of licensees. As one of the few companies that works with licensees, brand owners, and agents, we connected with a lot of different football clubs, some agents, some licensees, and with different partners that we work with. It was a good show and actually the first show we did in-person. We did a little bit of an event in Las Vegas around the Magic Show, but that was more informal. It was great to get back out and stretch our legs on on-site. We're going to the ISC International Sports Convention in the spring at Tottenham Stadium. We've got a lot of things planned for sports as sports is one of our major categories in Australia.
Thanks to a client in Australia, we’ve redone all of our language translations so that we are actually native both internally and externally with all our systems.
As soon as they let us in. I'm a runner/biker. I keep seeing the Qantas planes parked here in LAX. So I'm ready to jump on one as soon as they allow us to, but they’ve got the tin on the windows. Once we're able to come back, which I assume is going to be very soon, yes! We will be seeing you for sure for the Australian Toy Hobby and Licensing Fair. We've got a couple of new implementations, a lot of training, a lot of re-staffing, so you'll see some of our people there in Australia. We service Australia out of Bangladesh, out of the U.S., and even out of the U.K. So as soon as you let us back in, you'll be seeing us. Plus, it's your summertime. It's a great time to come. So yes, we will definitely be there as soon as we physically can. And finally, how best can companies over here reach out to Dependable Solutions with inquiries relating to your services? We’ll continue to be Zooming and using Microsoft Teams. A lot of companies in Australia, especially agents who already worked with our clients, are familiar with us. A lot of people in Australia are familiar with us because we do very well in the sports category. So we continue to prosper in Australia. The way we do it now, with remote teams, you can count on us. You need us to come into town, as long as we can get through customs and get through immigration, we're there. Right now, it's still hybrid but I believe we'll be seeing some of the Australians at the Sports Tailgate Show in January in Vegas and, hopefully, at the Brand Licensing Europe next week in London. Any chance we can get to see you in person, we will. By March, we'll be at the trade shows and events and anytime you like us there, there's no lack of people wanting to come to Australia. We'll physically be there but we'll virtually be there at any time you want– your mornings are our afternoons on the west coast. So it's actually very convenient for us to be in Australia in some of our time zones and we look forward to connecting with more, especially licensees in Australia. We’ve worked with a lot of brands, a lot of sports companies, and agents. Many of the agents just have custom software. With Dependable Solutions systems and services, we can do a bang up job on managing brands, dealing with VAT, GST, provincial tax, currency conversions, and all those kinds of things. So we look forward to coming back down there as soon as we can. It’s been two years but it does seem like twenty. We look forward to seeing the entire Australian market. We need to get there.
— Marty Malysz EDITION 39
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INTERVIEW DARRAN GARNHAM FOUNDER/CEO TOIKIDO
A New Kind of Toy Company We Speak to Darran Garnham, Founder/CEO of Toikido Interview by Matthew Bugg, Editor at The Bugg Report
Toikido is a new kind of toy company that launched in 2020 from Founder/CEO Darran Garnham. Toikido are a London based entertainment company at the cutting edge of digital design and toys. With a global reach Toikido have an ecosystem across licensing, gaming, music and entertainment. Passionate and knowledgeable with a culture and structure to move fast. The Bugg Report had the chance to speak to Darran in October to learn more about Toikido and what has been happening across the business.
We owe a lot to our amazingly supportive licensors and key partners on the journey with us, who have supported the ethos of the business from day one. — Darran Garnham
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There have been some obvious challenges in the world as of late, has it panned out as expected or have there been twists and turns? As with any business we have had to pivot on a couple of projects as the IP themselves have adapted or changed. However, it’s this flexibility that is part of the Toikido DNA and we spin more like a speedboat than an oil tanker. The team are focused but flexible and I’m proud that that reputation is gaining traction.
Hey Darran, so how has your first year in business been?
So I guess that you are super pleased with the performance of Among Us, in Australia, in the UK and across the globe?
I am extremely proud of what we have achieved given the challenges in front of us, COVID-19, shipping costs, lack of logistics — HGV drivers etc. We set some goals in the first month and we have achieved all but one but I'm confident we will nail that before the end of the year. We owe a lot to our amazingly supportive licensors and key partners on the journey with us, who have supported the ethos of the business from day one.
Absolutely. We have almost the perfect storm with a limited Hollywood theatrical release, few high profile brands launching and a user base that topped half a billion users during global lockdown. While the game may have slowed as others launch and the world reopened that core fanbase remains loyal and passionate. The user generated content on social media is getting millions of hits daily.
Given the great reception it has received to date, how will you be looking to build on the success of Among Us in 2022? I see 2022 as the true launch year of the brand. It will be when we will have reached most points of sale and have the full distribution in place. Some retailers were late to the party in 2021 having been reactive vs proactive. Those that were proactive have had a very good year. We will be building on the current ranges and reflecting on what has been working best. As an example, our costumes have become an unexpected internet sensation so we had to jump deeper into their development and planning. The great thing about being the main global partner on this IP is we can control product flow vs flooding the market and cheapening the brand.
The great thing about being the main global partner on this IP is we can control product flow vs flooding the market and cheapening the brand. — Darran Garnham
What are the other highlights of 2021 for Toikido? We have executed two IP in Among Us with InnerSloth and Back To The Outback with Netflix from contract to shelf in six months. We have shipped around the globe and have endcaps launching in most major retailers. We have also been recognised in the Kidscreen Hot 50. We have stayed humble, available and consistent in our communication.
Click on the video below to watch the TikTok clip by @AmongUs
What have you got planned for 2022... or at least what can you talk about at this stage? We will be building on Among Us, launching Smighties, Gang Beasts and some other exciting partnerships. We will also announce the first of our own IP projects and the opening of Toikido Studios. Finally in Q1 we will launch a truly unique global logistical project with a major digital influencer. I think that will take care of 2022, but our door is always open! www.toikido.co.uk www.twitter.com/toikido1 EDITION 39
UPDATE ALICE SANDERSON EXECUTIVE MANAGER AUSTRALIAN TOY ASSOCIATION
Toy Hobby & Licensing Fair 2022 What a rollercoaster 2021 has been! With everything that has occurred, it definitely has been a year to remember but not for the right reasons. With borders opening up and freedoms increasing, things are now starting to look positive. The MCEC recently announced the venue would be opening up to events with a capacity of up to 5,000 people which is truly encouraging for the 2022 Toy Fair. This year the Australian Toy Association (ATA) took the Fair digital for the first time in its history and the week was a success for many of our members and industry retailers. In 2022 our plans are focused on a hybrid event, allowing both onsite and online attendance. The Fair dates are Sunday 27th to Wednesday 30th March 2022 and if you are in the business of toys then you will not want to miss this event! As of early November, we have nearly 100 exhibitors booked and a full listing can be found on our website by clicking here. Registration to attend the Fair is open late January, and we cannot wait to put on another great Fair for the industry. Alice Sanderson began her career with the ATA in 2010 while completing her bachelor in Event Management. Alice has been instrumental in managing the Australian Toy Association Events and took on the Executive Manager position in 2019. Alice is passionate about the industry and together with the ATA staff and Board, continues to serve the members.
This year the Australian Toy Association (ATA) took the Fair digital for the first time in its history and the week was a success for many of our members and industry retailers. In 2022 our plans are focused on a hybrid event, allowing both onsite and online attendance. — Alice Sanderson 26
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Sponsorship opportunities are also available for those wanting extra exposure onsite during the Fair and on the digital platform. If you would like to enquire into sponsorship, please get in touch with ATA Event Manager Georgina Kritsilidis now before everything is sold out. There are opportunities for all sized budgets and if you want your brand to shine above the rest this is the perfect opportunity. Heading into Christmas, the ATA will be holding our AGM at 9.30am on the 17th November and we invite all members to attend. This year we have three Director nominations for three positions, and they are Jonathan Zimbler, Scott O’Rafferty and Troy Taylor. The Annual General Meeting also allows members an opportunity to hear what the Association has been working on over the ’21 Financial year end. The last year and a half has been tough for the Association and I want to take this opportunity to thank all Board members for their support and advice. A special thanks goes to ATA President, Tim Clarke of Modern Brands. Tim accepted the Presidents role and all the current challenges that come with it, at the 2020 Board Meeting. With the Christmas Season fast approaching and many of you working busily to stock the shelves of Australian Retailers, I want to wish you all a very successful and fun filled Christmas and a happy New Year. The ATA office will close for the festive season on Friday 17th December, and we will open again on the 4th January 2022. Be safe and stay well.
Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre AND ONLINE! 27 – 30 March 2022
Attend, Exhibit or Sponsor
COLUMN THE NEW AGE OF DIGITAL EDITION 5 BY ISABEL WU
Are you a technology company? “Every Company is a Tech Company Now. The Disruption is Just Beginning”, wrote Edward Felsenthal, TIME Editor-in-Chief and CEO in May this year: “The scope and speed of change was unprecedented, accelerating digital adaptation by as much as five years in a 12-month period. Disruption ruled, as legacy companies imploded. ... Nearly every business has become a tech business, one reason stocks have soared even as the pandemic devastated lives and livelihoods across the globe.” It has been a recurring theme ever since Watts S. Humphrey explained “why every business is a software business” in his 2002 book Winning with Software: An Executive Strategy.
This article is written by Isabel Wu from Meta Management and covers all things digital. Meta Management is a consultancy specialising in helping its clients with the organisational assets that drive effective digital transformation and create value in a hyper-connected, constantly changing world.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at the 2015 Convergence Conference: "Every company is a software company. ... It’s not about one simple software solution. It’s really you yourself thinking of your own future as a digital company.” To a Fox Business reporter who asked Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, “You’re an apparel company. What are you doing at [technology convention] CES?” Plank replied, “We're technology company and anybody who is going to live in the future better be there.” In 2016, TechCrunch warned, “Every company is a technology company, but most don’t behave like one.” The Wall Street Journal in 2018: “There was a time when the primary role of leaders at most companies was management. ... But now we’ve entered a period of upheaval ... affect[ing] the world of business so profoundly that every company is now a tech company.” When I work with clients, I always ask them, “What business are you in?” To date, none has replied “software” or “technology”. It is usually the more traditional, say, “toy company”, “licensing agency”, “FMCG manufacturer”, “consulting firm”.
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They use — not make or sell — technology, and so their view is they are no more a “technology company” than their use of accounting systems makes them an “accounting company”. However, identifying as a “technology company” is not just because the label might play well in marketing. Identity is a socio-cognitive construct that comes from the human instinct for order and to belong. People are motivated to things that move them closer to — and avoid those things that move them further from — how they see themselves, and the proficiency that results becomes part of their identity. As the forefront of competition shifts decisively to digital, organisational proficiency must reflect how and where companies compete, not just what they make or sell. They are still a toy/licensing/consulting company, but they must also become a digital one.
How to be a “technology company” 1. Digitise services. Digital technology makes it possible not only to embed services into products, it can also turn service into a standalone product. For example, the lay-by service stores once offered is now a digital buy now, pay later product. 2. Digitise customer experiences. Whether through online reviews, 24-hour communication, searchable videos as product manuals or real time delivery tracking, customers increasingly expect interactions to take place anywhere they use their mobile devices. 3. Digitise the workforce. It’s not just Zoom meetings and cloud storage giving worker access to remote work. It is the restructure of work to account for real time access to information. It is technology simplifying, improving or replacing many workflows, and allowing teams to work asynchronously (not all having to be in the same place at the same time). 4. Digitise mindsets. The digital mindset is less a way of doing things as it is a way of seeing things. Technology’s ability to offer new and better ways to do business is irrelevant if you do not see solutions in digital terms. All companies become digital companies when they use technology to make them better than their competitors at creating, capturing and delivering value to their customers. www.metamanagement.net EDITION 39
COLUMN ACCORDING TO DOWNSEY EDITION 14 BY IAN DOWNES
FEELGOOD MOMENTS During recent times I think we have all been looking for feelgood moments and signs that things are getting back to normal. The UK licensing industry had a collective feelgood moment recently with the successful hosting of the 2021 version of the Licensing Awards by Max Events. There seemed to be a collective sigh of relief that Max Events had got the event back on the road. Not only was it a great evening, it was also a signal to many in the industry that they could start meeting people and get back to networking. Licensing is a business that depends on networking — most deals involve two or three companies and often these opportunities emerge from face-to-face meetings. This column is written by Ian Downes, Director at Start Licensing in the UK.
It has been difficult to replicate this networking via video calls!
There were some noteworthy winners in the Awards. Peppa Pig picked up the Best Pre-school Licensed Property Award again along with a number of other awards cementing its position as a dominant force in pre-school licensing. Interestingly a number of properties that started life in the publishing world performed well at the awards with Harry Potter/ Wizarding World, Peter Rabbit and The Gruffalo all picking up awards. Without being too sentimental, the biggest winner on the night was the industry itself though. It certainly feels that the UK industry has changed gear in recent weeks (September/October) and there is a sense of optimism as we approach Brand Licensing Europe (November). This is in spite of the wider challenges businesses are facing. Indeed there is an argument to say that licensing should be pushing itself forward more than ever at the moment. A license could be a very useful tool for businesses to use in the current market. It certainly feels that brand owners are more open to licensing opportunities and working within the licensing space. This ranges from toy companies like Tomy using licensing as part of their 100th Anniversary campaign for their Britain’s Farm Toys brand (left), through to the Rolling Stones stepping into retail.
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Rolling Stones pop-up shop in London’s Carnaby Street
In the case of Tomy, they have worked with licensee Tomato Source to create a collectible medallion housed in a commemorative folder featuring a classic Fordson tractor. This has been marketed using a mix of PR, social media and direct selling. The Rolling Stones have also recently brought their brand alive with a pop-up shop in London’s Carnaby Street. Carnaby Street was part of the fabric of Swinging Sixties London and has strong connections to the music industry, so it seems to be a great location for this activation. It has also been encouraging to see retailers like Sainsbury’s use licensed promotions to create loyalty schemes — they are currently running a Disney themed promotion with 'free' trading cards linked to in store spend. Whilst in the world of FMCG there are more examples of brands collaborating to create special edition products, for example Krispy Kreme doughnuts have recently launched a Toffee Crisp doughnut (a brand which is a strong performer in the confectionery sector). There are lots of good news stories to point to in licensing at the moment which should encourage others to start licensing. Despite the challenges ahead of us there is reason to be optimistic not least as more brands, manufacturers and retailers seem to be prepared to engage with licensing. I am already looking forward to the 2022 Licensing Awards! EDITION 39
COLUMN — EDITION 6 CHRISTIE NICHOLAS CHIEF GROWTH PARTNER MUMPOWER
How to Gain Market Share... 8 strategies your competitors don’t want you to know! It’s been a big year, would you agree? With lockdowns causing havoc with consumer spending habits, major shipping delays making getting product to stores an impossible feat and quite simply, a consistent and overall state of flux adding stress to any good marketing plan, anyone and any brand that is feeling a little beaten but not yet defeated deserves to celebrate. It’s nearly time. But for now, let’s reflect on the lessons, the trends and the moves that winning brands are making right now to maintain market momentum and secure the winning edge over competitors as we head into a new phase. Over the years, Mumpower has partnered with over 350 brands and monitored exactly what the industry leaders do to get ahead of the curve. Here are their 8 sure fire strategies to gain outstanding market share, and fast: For more tips, trends and case studies, be sure to connect with me on linked in, or check out — mumpower.com.au About Christie Nicholas: Christie is the Chief Growth Partner of Mumpower; Australia’s leading agency shaping brands that speak to Mums. Ultimately, we exist to lead mum-centric brands to next-level brilliance. Christie founded Mumpower over 10 years ago, after a marketing career representing global brands that all sold products to Mums, to build an agency that exclusively focused on understanding Mums, her buying behaviour and best-practice marketing frameworks for brands to leverage relationships and drive brand advocacy; the catalyst to their success. Brands choose Mumpower for Market Research, Influencer Activation and Global Growth Accelerators.
1. Debunk assumptions about customer Customers buying behaviour has changed significantly. Now is the time to review what you don’t really know. A great start is via a brand and market health check, SWOT analysis, NPD Concept testing which all validate profitable opportunities. 2. Turn pain points into talking points Due to world events and the endless consequences on everyday lives, your customer is dealing with things they have never had to deal with before. Find out what their current pain points are then – address them in your dialogue with them. This is an opportunity to fast track connection, prove relevance and move customer to desired state. 3. Get stuck in people’s heads Despite the doom and gloom, consumers are still spending with many categories in incredibly high demand. Studies show that people buy the last brand they remember hearing from, so consistently keep your brand comms alive and be the one that is bought.
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4. Create aspirational AND relatable credibility Successful brands have an Influencer Marketing plan that is both aspirational and relatable. For example the brand will align with influencers (aspirational) to create content and they will also align with real consumers (relatable) to share reviews. Collectively it’s a much more powerful way to boost brand awareness and compel customers. 5. Review a 5 Star buyer journey When was the last time you genuinely put yourself in your customer shoes to look at her entire buying journey with you, from before she even realised you exist until post purchase? This is the easiest yet most often overlooked way to optimise the existing buyer journey and profitable gaps to fill. By listing the steps, you can see where you can remove barriers to make buying easy and pleasurable and then go above what customers expect from you. 6. Cement a unifying thought into everything you do There are so many competitive brands out there vying for your customers dollar. Reflect on what your brand stands for and simplify this down to a few words. Then, use these words as the foundation of all your strategy, marketing and comms execution. It will ensure your brand messaging is consistent and ultimately more memorable. This becomes the backbone of everything you do. 7. Move towards triple P bottom line Consumers and staff expect brands to have a bigger ‘why’. What do you do to take care of planet, people and profit? Not only is this important to today’s customers, there are more and more brands that deliver in this area and in doing so, create a more compelling reason to choose them. Can you afford not to have a bigger purpose? 8. Follow a predicable — and sustainable growth framework Marketers are faced with so many choices and ways to promote a brand to consumers; it is easy to get distracted by the next shiny activation. But – follow the customer, not the hype. For example, when Mumpower partners with brands, we give them access to a marketing power plan that is quantified to efficiently compel and convert more buyers and generate higher ROI for them, without costly trial and error. If you use a proven model and laser targeted systems, it’s easier to capture new audiences.
And there you have it. 8 sure fire strategies to implement into your marketing power plan and gain market share. EDITION 39
FEATURE STEVEN EKSTRACT MANAGING DIRECTOR GLOBAL LICENSING ADVISORS
A Return to Doing Business IRL Wikipedia defines the acronym IRL as a popular term on the Internet to describe events, people, activities, and interactions occurring offline, or otherwise not primarily through the medium of the Internet.
Steven Ekstract is an internationally renowned brand collaborations/media industry executive. Ekstract launched Global Licensing Advisors in September 2020, A unique, global, independent Advisory service for companies seeking direction for brand collaborations. Global Licensing Advisors assists companies in understanding the critical process of brand collaborations and extensions as a marketing tool, and advises them on the best direction for these programs, enabling them to make informed, strategic decisions that creates long term value for their brand/s.
Together as an industry, we now have the massive task to sort through so many of the economic disruptions that have negatively impacted the business of product licensing. — Steven Ekstract 34
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The return of Brand Licensing Europe in London is the first in a return to IRL trade fairs for our Licensing Business since 2019. As a live event, it proves that the demand for in person gatherings, albeit with safety protocols, is as strong as it was pre-Pandemic. After 20 months, we are finally beginning to get a handle on managing the COVID-19 Pandemic, with nearly half the world’s population having received at least one vaccine dose. As of this writing, there has been more than 6.7 billion doses of vaccine administered worldwide. While there has been a vast disparity in vaccine access between rich and poor nations, that imbalance is improving as vaccine production steadily increases. Considering it has only been 11 months since the vaccines were approved for emergency use, the progress we have made is remarkable. The science has proven that vaccines and PPE are effective at controlling transmission of COVID-19 and assisting us to get back to IRL. For visitors to Brand Licensing Europe, the organizers, Global Licensing Group and its sponsor, the International Trade Association, Licensing International, have focused their efforts on the safety of attendees and exhibitors as of the most paramount importance. All visitors to Brand Licensing Europe will need to show proof of vaccination status before entering the venue, ensuring that attendees and exhibitors alike are all vaccinated. After close to two years of Pandemic induced social distancing and doing business online, The UK Licensing Community has seen two major IRL gatherings in the months preceding Brand Licensing Europe. In September, they celebrated with the Annual Licensing Awards & Gala with hundreds of the UK Licensing industry in attendance. Last month, a smaller IRL Awards gathering took place in London as well, for the Brand Licensing community. The UK licensing community is leading the way in a return to IRL business gatherings. BACK TOGETHER AGAIN Together as an industry, we now have the massive task to sort through so many of the economic disruptions that have negatively impacted the business of product licensing. It’s my belief that in person trade events and conferences will allow us to get business back on track faster and more efficiently. The last 20 months of the Pandemic significantly accelerated a digitally disrupted marketplace and shifted so much of our business activities to virtual. As a result, many pundits believe that shift is now permanent for how business and consumers operate. My viewpoint is that there are aspects of digital transformations that will be permanent, such as the convenience for consumers of shopping through e-commerce as well as the flexibility for working remotely, which rewards workers with a better work life balance and employers with happier workers and significantly lower turnover.
This column appeared in the November edition of License Global magazine — www.licenseglobal.com
BRAND LICENSING EUROPE AT EXCEL IN 2019
On the flip side, the human need for social contact, always a hallmark of the in person dealmaking licensing business, shows signs of increasing life. While The UK Licensing business has brought back its Trade Fair and Awards, the U.S. has seen several small bi-coastal licensing networking events, with more to come. Understanding the licensing business is crucial to why IRL matters. The concept of licensing intellectual property (IP) effectively lies in mastering the psychology of marketing... that a brand’s emotional connection to consumers allows for extending that into tangible new categories that consumers will embrace. Successful brand extensions succeed based on three key factors which are: (1) The Consumer sees the product or service as a natural extension of the brand, (2) The products or services fill a need for the consumers and (3) Both Licensor and Licensee have developed a symbiotic relationship through the highest level of trust. For the Licensor, entrusting brands to a potential licensee partner requires developing a relationship of trust. For a licensee, in depth knowledge of the brands values and the consumers that embrace them, leads to success. Whether it is in person meetings at Trade Fairs, Licensing Summits or in office get-togethers, the licensing ecosystem functions best IRL.
Above: Brand Licensing Europe at Excel London BLE in 2019. BLE is the only panEuropean event dedicated to licensing and brand extension, bringing together retailers, licensees and manufacturers for three days of deal-making, networking and trend spotting. BLE is a must-attend event for businesses looking to discover and secure deals with the most sought-after brands, characters and images available for licensing.
BRANDS SHINE DURING THE PANDEMIC If there is one lesson long time licensing executives know well it is that during a global crisis, consumers will turn towards known and trusted brands, paying more for the reassurance these brands provide. In my two decades in the Licensing business, I have experienced four major economic crises that impacted our global licensing market. The Dot-Com boom and bust of the late 1990's and early 2000's, 9/11 in 2001, The Great Recession of 2007-2009 and the COVID-19 Pandemic. During each of these periods of economic disruption, well known and trusted brands saw significantly increased consumer demand and enabled the licensing business to grow ever greater. As we get back to IRL. I’ll leave you with a quote from the famed New York Yankees legend Yogi Bara — “It’s like déjà vu all over again”.
Whether it is in person meetings at Trade Fairs, Licensing Summits or in office get-togethers, the licensing ecosystem functions best IRL. — Steven Ekstract EDITION 39