Richard Pink B&LLAS Brand Ambassador 2018

Managing director of Pink Key Licensing, Richard Pink, is honoured with special accolade .

 Having devoted countless years to championing brands and talent, Richard Pink – MD of Pink Key Licensing – was honoured at last week’s Brand & Lifestyle Licensing Awards with the special Brand Ambassador of the Year accolade.

The award recognised Richard’s contribution to the industry, which has seen him work with brands including Kellogg’s, Pringles, SLUSH PUPPiE, Pan Am and Jane Asher since establishing his own business in 2005.

Prior to that he had held the role of head of promotions and licensing at Kellogg’s UK, while he also enjoyed time as head of licensing at Entertainment Rights.

On top of building his own business, Richard has also given his time and input to raising aware ness and credibility of brand licensing by working with respected trade bodies in his role as head of awards at the Institute of Promotional Marketing.

Richard was described by Max Publ ishing’s Joint MD Jakki Brown as “a really decent and caring chap, as well as a savvy business brand licensing expert”.

Richard told The Licensing Source “I’m truly honoured to win the Brand Ambassado r award at the B&LLAs and so proud to be part of an industry where your competitors are also your friends.  I honestly believe that the agents and licensees involved in brand licensing really can show what it is possible to do with a brand to make it innovative and take it to places the brand owners would never expect.

“There are so many friends that I’d like to thank who have supported and encouraged me, but I particularly want to thank Nancy for making such a difference to what Pink Key does.

The B&LLAs get stronger every year, as does the industry, and I’m so happy to be a part of it.”

Licensing Awards – Best Marcomms !

It’s that time again folks the panel members are gathered and poised like a coiled spring ready to pounce on your entries for this prestigious award. Last year the prize was grabbed by the Trolls (oooh sounds painful!) beating off stiff competition from Thunderbirds, Ab Fab, and the superb Epic Skeletor from Money Supermarket. So it’s probably time to remind everyone to get their campaigns in.

Remember this award goes to the best use of a licensed brand when it’s promoting another product or service. It could be a charity, a drink, yoghurt, financial services or anything other than itself. For example Top Cat promoting Halifax – tick, Star Wars on a cereal pack – also tick.

So what’s going to win it for you?

The most important things to be able to show is that the licence was used effectively – one of the ways this has been shown in the past is where the character has acted totally out of, well, character. Think of Postman Pat knocking Greendale down, Mr. Happy not being very happy, He-man and Dirty Dancing  – you get the idea.

But this doesn’t have to be the case – a couple of years ago the Gruffalo walked away with the prize with a campaign that was totally in keeping with the character of the brand. This was simply because the campaign was so effective. It had clear measurable objectives and it delivered in spades.

There are two stages to our judging process – firstly on-line after which we eliminate all but ten entries – these go through to the panel discussion where we nominate our top 5 and pick an overall winner.

Is important to write your entry so that you get through stage one – be clear, succinct but sell the idea – assume the judge know nothing, and most importantly – don’t just say it was great – say why it was great!

The entry page is open and if you need any advice don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll be more than happy to help richard@pinkkey.co.uk




Nom, Nom, Nom, Nom!!!!

No I’m not hungry, well I am, but that’s another matter. I am however looking forward to lunch at the Dorchester on 26th April where Nancy and I will be attending the Brand and Lifestyle Licensing Awards, or B&LLAs as they are affectionately known by those who take part.

The B&LLAs have been a huge success since our pals at Max Publishing launched them. They were a timely addition to the annual awards round as they recognised the clear difference between the ‘entertainment’ and ‘brand’ side of our industry. It’s a welcome recognition that the rules don’t apply the same way to these parts of the industry, and that anyone wise enough to take a ‘brand’ on knows that, although its often a slow burner, there’s gold in them there hills.

Of course you can’t be prescriptive about this, there are always going to be brands that buck the trend – entertainment brands that stay around for ever, and non- entertainment brands that get on a huge fast trajectory, but on the whole the B&LLAs were the right thing at the right time, especially for those of us who specialise in the area.

And so it’s a true delight to have 4 nominations this year

  • SLUSH PUPPiE – Best Licensed Food or Beverage Brand
  • Pringles Pencil Cases from Helix – Best Brand Licensed Children’s Product or Range
  • Kellogg’s Gift Range from Kimm & Miller – Best Brand Licensed Gifting Product or Range
  • SLUSH PUPPiE Range From Fizz Creations – The Inspired Innovation Brand Licensed Product or Range

Obviously we think they are all well deserved and we are particularly pleased to see three of our licensees nominated for their hard work with some superb product that were genuine bestsellers at retail in stores as diverse as Argos, Menkind, Rymans, Debenhams and Tesco.

Once again we are sponsoring a category with Kellogg Vintage, and we are looking forward to what is always an excellent and normally very messy afternoon – time to write off Friday I think!



Want awareness? Get incongruous!

Oh how we laughed – but little did we know what a trend it was to become.

Here’s the formula – you take your character, you link with a brand that wants to promote and then you make your character do things in the interest of that brand that would give the creator kittens if there wasn’t (I suspect) a healthy fee involved.

Now don’t get me wrong, frankly I’m all for it, but I just wonder how much further it can go, and whether the initial joke is in danger of getting a bit thin.

Early on there were some crackers with very high production values. The short Specsavers Postman Pat episode where he effectively demolishes Greendale and very nearly runs Jess over was genuinely funny, and you could see that as much care and attention had gone into the ad as went into the show. It also did nothing to harm the equity of Postman Pat. Equally the Ready Brek Windy Miller series of ads made with full stop-frame animation was arguably even better with its tongue planted firmly in its cheek. My personal favourite is Windy’s nudist Scandinavian cousin turning up and receiving a bowl of hot porridge in his unprotected lap (You Tube it – its brilliant!).

The Mr. Men have also been especially good at this with characters both playing to and against their personalities on behalf of Specsavers, and more recently TFL and Heathrow Airport.

Two relatively new campaigns also spring to mind in this area – firstly I suspect unless you’ve been under a rock you must have seen the Halifax campaigns featuring Top Cat, The Flintstones and Scooby Doo. You really do have to be careful with this stuff when you are dealing with characters that have such a strong association with people’s childhood memories. There is a real risk that you can be seen as ‘selling out’ which could potentially do the promoter no good at all. You can also potentially damage the reputation of the licence, especially if there is still a programme running.  On balance I think they’ve got this campaign right, the characters are credible and authentic, and because its clear that each character is being used to promote a particular Halifax product, its clear that the campaign has been thought through carefully and it works.

The second is really interesting – I’ve never been a He-Man fan, I missed that one, but I know from discussions that there are people out there who won’t hear a word said against it. So the Moneysupermarket Skeletor campaign fascinates me. Personally I think its hilarious, but mainly because its using characters I have no emotional attachment to and uses them totally out of context. Moneysupermarket are the epitome of cheesy, in your face, love it or hate it advertising that gets right up your nose, but sticks in your ears like an ear worm. For anyone to put their prized assets into that advertising environment is a big risk. Personally I think it works a treat and is very, very funny but I’d be very interested to hear what anyone who regularly invokes the ‘Power of Greyskull’ thinks.

What’s next I wonder?  She-Ra at Go-Compare!?



Promotions – Stop Clowning Around

Any excuse for a good gag – what’s the worst insult that someone can level at you?

‘Who’s this clown? ‘

That’s because it implies a) that you’re a clown b) that you’re not one of the better known ones.

Anyway, the reason for this is to introduce a marvelous little bit of anarchy thrown out by Burger King this month where they were offering a free Whopper Sandwich to the first 500 people who turned up at their Leicester Square Branch in a 6 hour window near Halloween dressed as a clown.

It was an excellent publicity stunt to support the launch of Stephen King’s ‘It’. However, is anyone else detecting a little bit of a slap for their largest competitor in there too. It’s a subtle one, but I bet that when it was discussed, someone in the meeting saw an opportunity to have a bit of a dig. I would also imagine that someone else (possibly the in-house lawyer) might have a got a little bit nervous about it possibly crossing a line.

Personally I think it’s an excellent and edgy idea, and easily explainable in the context of the film and the natural fear a lot of people have about clowns around that time of year. Nevertheless I suspect there was a bit of chuckling that the opportunity had presented itself.

I’m not an advocate of anyone abusing intellectual property rights, however I suspect that Ronald is big enough not to be worried about a relatively low level stunt like this one.

You only have to look at the tag line ‘Come as a clown and eat like a King’ to know what was going through their minds – and to put it beyond any doubt, have a good look at what the clown is wearing – look familiar?

It’s easy to get carried away with an idea like this, I suspect that anything more explicit for this campaign might have seen a ‘cease and desist’ flying around, and possibly worse. However, I think they’ve just about kept within the boundaries of decency, and the shortness of the campaign will mean its not going to overly worry the people at the Golden Arches.

That is until a picture emerges on Instagram of 100 Ronald Macdonalds tucking into a Burger King Meal, or someone writes a blog about it – oh hang on….

We’re Going on a Fun Hunt……..


Take a walk down the cereal aisle, the biscuit aisle, the sweet aisle, in fact any aisle you like – its so boooring!

Go back not too long ago and every one of those aforementioned aisles would have been choc full of promotional activity and the vast majority of it would have been licensed. Every packet of cereal would have had an insert leading to war in every home and a considerable amount of food on the floor in the battle between siblings to see whether the widget was in the packet or (every parents nightmare) in the bag. Its not just cereal either – there is very little inventive, licensed or either in any of the aisles.

And why?

Because the received wisdom is that licensing and promotions encourages children to eat (in vast quantities) food and drink that is going to do them no good. In reality the offending foods are probably a lot better than they were when I was growing up, but as lifestyles of children have become more sedentary (probably driven by the pull of digital world) a casualty of the change has been all the fun I used to have at breakfast and snack times.

Its like everyone just gave up and there has been a decade long self imposed hiatus on anything creative – as if your teeth will just drop out if you so much as look at a can of pop!

Its probably why a decent promotion stands out and the Ready Brek tie-up with ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt’ looks like a corker in amongst the myriad of ‘Days out’ promotions trying their hardest to look like works of creative genius.

This one is genuinely good though, encouraging family activity using the pack as the root of the inspiration. You could be cynical and say they are trying to tick as many ‘right on’ boxes as they can, but at least they are trying!

It’s creative and it encourages children and their parents to be creative too, it’s focused on getting active outdoors. It’s one of those promotions where the promotion has been very nicely linked to the core message of the licence and had given Weetabix a good platform to focus on the healthy side of their food too – a lovely example of overall activity being greater than the sum of its parts.

I think it’s a thing of beauty, but then I did deal with this kind of stuff for many years. Having said that it’s the kind of promotion that resonates with me as it seems to achieve everything it sets out to do without (it would seem) needing to have a budget that would make the FD spit his coffee out.

I hope that promoters see it and take notice – we need some fun back in these aisles, because if it isn’t there then no wonder our kids are just going to finish their meal and pick the iPad up.



Promotional Licences – Want royalties? Show them the value!

Shhhhh – there aren’t any promoters listening are there? Good, now we’re alone, I can tell you what I think you need to do to get a healthy fee from them for using your property!

Years ago it was easy – you rocked up to the cereal, snacks or pop people, told them when your film was coming out, or when the first episode would be aired, and the cheque book came out…well maybe it wasn’t quite that easy, but you know what I mean.

But it’s all changed these days.

The promoters think (for some reason) they are doing you a favour putting your property on their pack. They think giving you exposure should be enough for you – I know!

Well, to be fair, depending on which licence you are lucky enough to represent, exposure might be exactly what you need. However, what are we all in this for? To derive value out of a promotional licensing deal, money has to be part of the discussion. Therefore, even if it doesn’t finish that way, a royalty fee for the use of the licence should be on the opening agenda.

However, too many brand owners and licensing agents are still stuck in the past and believe that it’s a ‘given’ that a promoter is simply going to hand the cash over. These days the licence holder has to work harder and give a bit a justification if they are going to be asking for a fee.

So, what are the things that need to be‘talked up’in this negotiation? I’d divide them into the obvious and the less obvious.

Here are the obvious ones –

  • Added value through point of difference versus competitors
  • TV or cinema exposure and the accompanying marketing campaigns and events
  • Exposure from other non-competitive promoters

But there are other not so obvious things that might seem pretty run of the mill to the licensor or agent, but may actually be of more value to a promoter than you might think. Try these –

  • Your approval process: speed is of the essence to promoters and their deadlines are tight – deliver this and they’ll love you
  • Product as a prize fund: you may find your licensees are willing to stump up some product to add into the deal, helping you get the exposure from the promoter
  • Access to talent: remember your brand is unique – there are some dead easy ‘money can’t buy’ things you can offer such as a visit to the set, tea with a celeb or the creator, or one of the cast
  • Bespoke artwork: if the writers or creators are available and accessible, providing unique art for prizes or the promotion can add enormous value

The list is not exhaustive by any means. I bet if you put your mind to it you could come up with a whole host of things that cost you nothing, but could add enormous value to a potential partner, thereby helping you justify asking for royalty fee.

Breakfast Cereal – A New hope!?

Anyone who knows me knows that if I were a stick of rock I’d have the word ‘Kellogg’s’ printed through me. I also have the dubious distinction of being the last Promotions Manager at said company who ran a promotion with a licence on it (Shrek in case you’re wondering), at least that was the case. I was there when there was nothing but fun in the box – Jimmy Neutron was sweeping all before it (who?!) and you couldn’t move down the cereal aisle for the amount of film and TV property jumping off every pack.

Then  – it all stopped  – suddenly we weren’t allowed to delve into the new packets anymore to grab a Bi-carbonate of Soda powered submarine (one for the kids, that one), ignoring (and possibly binning) the cereal in an attempt to the get to the toy. These were simple pre-Xbox times my friends.

But almost overnight a walk down the cereal aisle became like a step back in time. Fun? We suddenly weren’t allowed that; just good healthy living – suddenly if we even looked at a packet of Frosties all our teeth would drop out and we’d gain 2 stone. Utter nonsense of course but don’t get me started on that ….

I think the question I’ve been asked most whether I was working, consulting or vaguely associated with Kellogg’s was ‘How do I get my brand onto their packs?’ I wont go into all the reasons why the answer to that question was never straightforward, and why the chances were always negligible. However I will say that I believe the demise of the breakfast cereal promotion did have a profound effect on the attitude of promoters in general. Cereal promotions were always high profile and a benchmark in what could be achieved using a brand and a licence. Other potential promoters watched, or at least noticed them and they gave ideas to the manufacturers of other products to what they could do with a licence.

When these licensed promotions disappeared, the ground on which this activity took place became a relatively barren place – the mantel was never really picked up by anyone.

However a new hope has appeared and co-incidentally  it’s Star Wars providing it! Kellogg’s and Weetabix are both venturing in to the wonderful world of licensing again. Weetabix have launched a partnership with Cartoon Network (albeit focused on encouraging healthy eating – smart move that!) http://www.thegrocer.co.uk/buying-and-supplying/marketing/weetabixs-weetabuddies-in-cartoon-network-partnership/529792.article , and the Manchester cereal giant have come out of the blocks with all guns blazing – Frozen and Star Wars cereals and what’s more, a free band on gift in the form of a light sabre spoon !

It’s great to see this kind of activity potentially making a comeback, not only does it bring life and a bit of fun to the category, it also potentially raises the profile of the potential for licence promotions for everyone – there has clearly been an awakening in the force …….

BLLAs – We are in the running again!


It was only when I took a step back after Nancy and I had finished building our stand at BLE last year I realized that we had an ‘AGENCY STRATEGY’.

Purely because of the way the cards had fallen in the last 12 months we’d found ourselves as a Licensing Agency focused entirely on food brands.  There they were and I couldn’t deny it –Kellogg’s, Pringles and SLUSH PUPPiE – three great and very different brands.

It also became apparent that other people had spotted our well thought out strategy too as we were approached by a couple of other food based brands who through they’d fit well into our portfolio!

It also makes me look at the BLLAss in a slightly different light too. For many years ‘Upstairs’ BLE brands felt a bit lost in the Licensing Awards that are, and continue to be dominated by the entertainment industry. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great event to be part of, but with the BLLA’s we feel like we have something that’s ours, and somewhere we feel like we belong.

It’s the main reason we felt like we should offer Pringles as a sponsor, however, even better is that we have 2 brand nominations for Jane Asher (not exactly a food brand but close enough for me to think we are still ‘on strategy’) and Kellogg Vintage, as well as a product nomination for the Portmeirion Kellogg range.

Will we win? Well I wouldn’t have entered if I didn’t think we had a chance, but in the meantime its great to be nominated and we’re looking forward to the event and the ‘after’ event very much!

A Load of Bowls

A Load of Bowls

A Load of Bowls