I was at the super trendy Hoxton Hotel for the latest Tech Tuesday, this time on licensing related to children’s publishing. Well done to the London Book Fair for getting together a really strong panel of speakers, Karen Lawler, Executive Manager of Licensing at Hachette Children’s Group, Richard Haines, Acquisitions & New Business Manager, Penguin Random House Children’s and Kelvyn Gardner, Managing Director at LIMA UK, to discuss: Licensed to Sell: Crossmedia Trading and bridge-building across the Creative Industries. Are we Doing Enough?
Here’s a sample of the questions and responses:
Q. Are we bridge building across the creative industries?
Karen – yes, there are several events such as Mipcom, the Spring Fair (and many more, see http://www.thecreativeindustries.co.uk/resources/events). Hachette Children’s Group worked with McDonald’s to turn the Secret Seven into illustrated books to be given away with happy meals, plus creating a section on McDonald’s website with animated content. They’ve worked with companies like Hasbro to turn products into books.
Richard – Penguin works on a number of licenses eg Peppa Pig sometimes in association with other companies to produce for example early learning books and apps. Think about the medium and how to work with it.
Q. Do we speak the same language?
Richard – Characters, stories and worlds are what it’s about, sometimes the language differs.
Kelvyn – The majority of consumer brands don’t see a way into product merchandising. Licensing companies need to explain clearly how it works.
Karen – It’s a question of expectations – people feel they have a TV show so it’s obvious to do books etc too. But you need to have awareness of the perspective of the child and see beyond the brand.
Q. Taking classic products or backlist to merchandise – what about the issue of rights?
Richard – Contracts drawn up 40 years ago don’t include digital so there can be barriers and things are changing more quickly than ever now. If you do buy rights you need to have a strategy and know what you want to do.
Karen – Hachette bought Enid Blyton rights in 2012. The previous owners had been so concerned about giving rights there had been no films licensed since the 50s. They now have films and stage shows in development.
Q. Are we missing a trick – are gaming publishers doing more and better?
Karen – There is lots room to find creative solutions and we are working to different budgets.
Richard – They’re working with several game companies and producers such as Rovio and Mind Candy. There are more gamers now and the new area of the market that’s growing is 25+ women. So there’s still much more that can be done.
Q. Big screen / small screen – do apps have an influence?
Richard – There’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for apps. At Penguin they consider what is the purpose of the app – commercial or brand awareness?
Q. Authors may not be happy with merchandising etc – is this ok?
Karen – It’s important to know at the early stage what expectations are and allowance on decision.
Richard – No one knows the full picture better than the author, so if they want to be involved that’s a good thing.
Q. What about the fashion for bringing back things from the 70s?
Richard – There is a danger of recycled content but it can be great for parents and kids to share together. New editions need to hold their own otherwise they won’t succeed.