There is widespread recognition amongst tv producers that income from tv programme sales is seldom sufficient to cover production costs. So brand licensing is rightly centre stage as a means to increase revenue and extend intellectual properties beyond the tv screen. But to truly extend and set your offer apart, new consumer driven and brand tools are needed.
The Current Brand Licensing Model is Flawed
The process is typically an auction. A producer makes a show. It’s then sold to broadcasters and aired. A ‘style guide’ is produced containing a synopsis of the show, the key characters and design elements. It’s usually an impressive tome, a wonderful work of art, and often produced at massive expense. This is sent to potential licensees with a brief asking them to come up with new product ideas. The product rights are then effectively sold to the highest bidder.
Brand Label Slapping Risks Undermining Value
But the current model often leads to little more putting a new tv series label on a product. While there are a few bucks to be made by slapping tv series logos onto a pair of pyjamas, pencil case or rucksack rarely will this add much in terms of value and support for the tv series. Sure the tv series linkage will contribute some recognition and interest but rarely will it truly differentiate. More often it will limit competitiveness to the commodities that can be found in cheap and cheerful stores. Further, it can undermine the tv proposition if the product or place is inappropriate.
Out-Smart Your Competitors
Thinking from a supply push point of view alone isn’t enough. It’s akin to throwing mud at a wall – an uncertain way to make it stick.
Everyone is a potential competitor for your consumer’s time and money so be vigilant to the world around you. Competitive media and retailers, and particularly consumer goods companies are amongst the most sophisticated product development organisations in the world. By learning from and out-thinking your competitors will improve the chances that what you offer will truly resonate.
Invest in Getting Genuine and Timely Insights
So don’t just run internal creative workshops, invest in obtaining genuine consumer understanding on which to base decisions.
Consumers make choices based on their individual needs, whether an offer meets their needs, and by weighing up the benefits of competing offers. They buy if their needs become wants. The trade makes stocking decisions on a similar basis – what sets them apart, drives store traffic and meets their customer’s needs.
Invest in audience research to understand what it is that engages and sets your tv series apart. What engages and enthrals is rarely what it appears from the outside looking in. Often unusual character quirks are uncovered which can highlight previously unconsidered differentiators and drivers. For example, the lead characters could be different to what had previously been assumed. All can have a profound bearing on your licensing programme.
Invest in obtaining meaningful insights on consumers’ needs, wants and behaviours. Think about this at the same time as programme production rather than afterwards to maximise both programme development and brand extension opportunities. And as insights can come from anywhere it is important to look in many places and use a variety of techniques to uncover them.
Create Stimulus to Explore and Define the Brand Difference
Stimulus can be used to challenge, engage, amuse and explore new product and communication possibilities. Creating and bring to life ideas (see examples above) helps provoke more substantial reactions to ideas, push the boundaries where products and brands can go and uncover what is appealing and why.
There are particular difficulties in conducting practical and useful research with young consumers. Children are understandably less articulate than adults and need help to express themselves. This is where stimulus can play an even more powerful role to help critique and develop ideas.
The examples of product stimulus visualised are reproduced courtesy of BBC Worldwide. They are just a handful of some 70 plus ideas created and used to explore new product and brand extension opportunities for The Secret Show. Check out The Secret Show here.
Extending programmes beyond the tv screen to create brands requires the differentiating essence of the programme to be truly understood. This will only happen by seeing through the audience’s eyes and pushing the boundaries creatively.