Licensing opportunity: Quirky characters embody better-for-you snacking

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Brand

Brands should look to license quirky characters like Charlotte Reed’s Happy Hippy to help children move to better-for-you snacks, writes BakeryandSnacks’ editor.

Brand Licensing Europe 2017, held in London, UK, last month brought together 280 exhibitors showcasing over 2,500 brands, characters and images – the only pan-European event dedicated to licensing and brand extensions.

But amid all the deals for children’s characters to appear on sugar-laden candy and chocolate is an untapped opportunity to encourage children and parents to make healthier choices.

According to a recent study published in Appetite, dietary-related diseases among children have increased damatically, making children’s food choice a policy issue of increasing relevance.

The study set out to investigate the role of branding in the choice of food among children,​ and found that it could, indeed, have a significant effect.

However, the researchers noted that it was not a simple brand awareness, but a child’s liking​ of the brand that determines whether a brand is successful in motivating a child to choose its products.

Which opens a business case for Charlotte Reed’s quirky characters like the Shoeless Guru and the Happy Hippy, who resonate clean, simple and healthy living, syngergizing with today’s burgeoning trend towards better-for-you (BFY) snacking.

Prince William and Prince Harry have broken the taboo of mental illness, paving the way for others to talk openly about the struggles they’ve gone though, and Reed, brand owner and creator of May the Thoughts Be With You, has taken the concept further, creating a brand that she says already resonates with many people.

“May The Thoughts Be With You is a collection of my own positive thoughts said by cartoons that I created to overcome my own depression,”​ she told BakeryandSnacks.

Quick assent

Simple but true

“The speed with which it has developed as a book and a brand continues to amaze and delight me.”

Reed originally self-published her book of witty statements made by her quirky characters, setting up a stall at Portobello Road Market to sell it.

“The response was overwhelming and I sold thousands of copies very quickly,”​ she said.

Today, the brand has garnered her global publishing deals – the book has been translated into German, Dutch and Korean – a weekly column in The Evening Standard, ambassador status for mental health and even a movie deal.

A film investment company wants to turn the story behind the book into a movie, possibly as a sequel to Notting Hall, because of her ties with Portobello Road, she said.

Star status

Her characters have even built up a fan base of celebs, including Kylie Minogue, David Walliams and Natalie Imbruglia.

May The Thoughts Be With You won BLE’s Licence This! competition last year that offers new creative concepts or brands the chance to break into the global licensing industry.

This year, Reed was back at BLE, but as an exhibitor, having appointed Larkshead Media to manage the brand’s licensing.

Larkshead Media’s early category focus is paper products (notebooks and greeting cards) and gifting, extending to T-shirts and apparel, but can also see the synergy with the current trend towards natural, organic and clean in the food and beverage industry.

Organic snacking synergies

BakeryandSnacks noted a plethora of other intriguing and exciting brands at BLE 2017 that could prove excellent branding partners with players in the BFY-snacks-for-children space, including The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, and the Lemon Ribbon characters, among others.

The prospect of tying the brand to a BFY snack is enticing, said Reed.

“I myself have a lot of allergies, so a wholesome snack that is, say, gluten-free, sugar-free and maybe even dairy-free, would be amazing,”​ noting that her characters would only ever eat healthy foods, too.

“I think all these characters would eat foods like that because they themselves are very healthy,” ​said Reed.

The upshot? Sometimes in life, you can go through a difficult time, but it can turn into something positive.

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