The discussion about the way character licensing works continues to raise important points in our Linkedin group. As a result, we have decided to feature this important subject matter once more to share some of these issues with our readers outside of Linkedin.
An American cartoonist and illustrator described a scenario that many independent character creators interested in licensing may come across. He described a catch 22 situation he faced when trying to get his characters established online, in order to be able to attract a licensing agent.
This artist posted styleguides featuring his characters on products on his CafePress and Zazzle stores to give them exposure, following advise from a licensing agent, whose opinion he valued.
After this helpful tip, a licensing manager from a well known children's entertainment company shared some of her expert knowledge of the licensing market. She said that these days, retailers tend to focus on private label goods, while reducing the amount of licensed goods, unless they have a stakehold in the success of a brand, such as in a DTR (Direct-to-Retail) or an exclusive relationship.
She went on to say, that when it comes to characters this is even more relevant, because the retailers are reducing the space allotted to licensed character brands in order to expand private label brands. In her mind this greatly reduces the ability to launch new character based properties, unless they are already enormously successful. This development makes it even more important to have well defined, content based, "meaningful" characters.
She then advised character creators to be realistic about their goals and true to their characters. For those choosing to employ an agent, she made the point that they should have a clear and defined strategy that outlines what they want to achieve, as this may differ from the objectives of the agent.
Despite all this, she said that there are still a lot of opportunities in this continually evolving market. Characters no longer need to emerge from a movie or a TV series. Today a host of characters such as the "Angry Birds", for example, originate in "non-traditional" places. New platforms such as Facebook and Youtube are becoming increasingly important for launching, branding and generating mass appeal. As the internet becomes an integral part of our daily lives, it also becomes an important platform for establishing new character brands, according to this licensing expert.
Find out what our other character experts have to say about licensing, or share your thoughts on the subject matter... here.