OPINION: Licence to thrill

Elie Knapen, VP promotional services for Cartamundi, discusses the delights and difficulties of producing attractive licensed product at retail.
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I’m responsible for developing and rolling out Cartamundi’s promotional services strategy with the company purpose in mind: “Sharing the magic of playing together.”

I work closely together with the other VPs, VP consumer products (retail) and VP games manufacturing services, both to broaden and strengthen our offer in promotions.

That means making use of our network with game developers to introduce new game mechanics in promotional offerings and making use of our network with licensors and game brands to launch licensed and branded promotions.

All campaigns are tailor-made and adapted to the needs, targets and preferences of the customer. The process of retail activation differs between a licensed product and a Cartamundi-only product. Offering a programme based on a licence is an opportunity but also a challenge. It’s an opportunity because we can assure our retail customers of instant buy-in from consumers.

In addition licensed programmes ensure high quality and engaging content and imagery, in line with consumer trends.

The main challenge is the obvious one: to get all parties aligned.

Most of all, a campaign must not infringe licensor conditions and must meet the licensor expectations as to visibility and respect for its IPs.

The storyline is pre-discussed and agreed upon between the licensor and our licensing manager.

Once we enter a pitch and co-create the programme with our retail customers, the approval process has to be repeated case by case. Our creative studio is in touch with the licensor and uploads the designs in the required formats. We need lots of images (and lots of approvals) to be able to make a compelling card collection.
With many licences, work starts early, often a year ahead. However, retailers and brands are very well organised when it comes to planning activation campaigns. Of course, when it comes to approval, the licensor always has the final word.

By contrast, the ‘pro’ of a tailor-made programme based on generic topics of interest to the consumer is that the approach is largely down to the retailer.

It is, however, an intensive process in concepting, for which Cartamundi takes on the entire project management, bearing in mind that a licence-free concept will only succeed with the consumer if the message is clear, the imagery engaging and it makes sense.

With a licensed campaign there can be a number of challenges but introducing consumers to the subject matter isn’t one of them.

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