The Bugg Report was fortunate to catch up with Marco Hüsges prior to Licensing Expo in Las Vegas. From our previous article, we learnt about the evolution of The Emoji Company and its rapid growth trajectory around the world. Already active in over 60 countries around the globe, Marco continues to set aggressive goals for his young company. When we first interviewed Marco he was very clear that The Emoji Company strategy was transforming a digital phenomenon into a physical brand. “From digital to physical.”
Marco’s travel schedule continues unabated whilst he works hard to expand the emoji® footprint across the globe. We spoke to him whilst he was travelling in Switzerland on his way back to Germany in the lead up to Brand Licensing Europe (BLE), to get his take on what has fallen into place since Licensing Expo in June.
Marco, the incredibly big portfolio of The Emoji Company’s icons are the driving force to create the physical merchandising and promotional concepts. How have you seen this concept unfold over the past 18 months and has it lived up to your expectations?
Our “iconic journey” started in 2013 and we have invested a lot of resources into the development of the emoji® brand as well as into creating a vast portfolio of icons for cross category merchandising. Nearly 400 trademarks have been filed all over the world. Close to 4000 icons have been developed in house by now and each icon has been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. The official emoji® brand sprays just positive emotions and is the perfect combination of branding and strong content which makes it perfect for licensing in any category, for promotions, loyalty programs and for the integration into marketing campaigns as just recently launched by partners such as Nikon or O2.
Our development and growth indeed has been very fast and resounding, sell through figures are amazing which is the most important thing for any brand seeing its partners being satisfied and commercially successful with their activities. The goals set were definitely met but did also live up to our expectations in specific categories and areas.
Can you give us an example of your latest partnerships where you see a perfect transition from “Digital to Physical?”
We just recently entered into a relationship with Donut King in Australia who is continually focused on developing new products to keep up with regularly changing and evolving trends. The latest market trends involve Emojis. They have taken over the technology world and now they are taking over the donut world. Donut King have partnered with us and with their licensing agent Haven Licensing to bring customers a new line of unique edible image donuts. The product will be supported by national and local area marketing including point-of-sale material, email marketing to its customer database and social media advertising and promotions. Donut King is focused on continually innovating and creating new products that fit with the changing food and treat trends. This campaign perfectly demonstrates the wide scope of use for the emoji® brand and its related content.
In Europe we have made a product placement campaign for the start of the new season of Big Brother in Spain. You can find all sorts of products integrated and promoted within the show and then buy them either online or in dedicated retail stores. Activities of this kind for sure will give maximum brand exposure and lead to rewarding synergy effects.
Marco, as we reported earlier, your emoji® pavilion at Licensing Expo was one of the busiest at the show. Would you mind sharing a few of the most exciting developments that came out of this event for you?
The results of exhibiting at Licensing Expo 2016 were beyond our expectations; the show was extremely successful for our company. We met existing partners and built new relationships and the Vegas Expo could easily last two days longer.
The best experience of the exhibition was of course being able to meet and to listen to so many of our partners on a face to face basis which I believe is so important in business as it is in life.
The Expo in Vegas is a perfect door opener and enabled us to secure partnerships in brand new regions. We entered into discussions with partners from Russia, Chile or Peru and already generated business from those meetings.
Straight after the show we signed with Asiana Licensing to represent emoji® – the iconic brand in South Korea which is a great move for the emoji company GmbH. Summing up, the Licensing Expo is the most important international venue for each brand owner and we are looking forward to exhibiting in 2017 while having a bigger booth presence than in 2016.
Your positioning statement for the brand is very specific: emotional, multicultural, official, joyful & iconic; this speaks to the concept of engaging us all with your vision. We touched on longevity; how do you see this some two years into your journey?
Longevity is the goal of any brand. Our brand for sure has this potential due to its unlimited variety that keeps the brand fresh and vibrant.
The official emoji® brand is universal, expressive, colourful and sustainable. Our content appeals to people of any age or gender and sprays simply good feelings. The emoji® brand is highly expressive and has a huge recognition value. Inspired by people using more than 6 billion icons daily in their digital communication the emoji company GmbH created emoji® – the iconic brand for the world of tangible products, promotions and loyalty programs. Moreover, big corporations start using our content in their national and global marketing campaigns. A clear integrated brand strategy paired with uncountable options to design icons for just any occasion one can imagine is the guarantor for the emoji® brand to stay fresh and multifunctional at any time for a universal target audience.
I notice with interest that you continue to develop your portfolio of icons to include sport and seasonal, to name a few. Where do your priorities lay in future expansion for your company?
At The Emoji Company we proactively work on the creation of new content. In the past months we have increased our team of illustrators and designers to work on the development of new icons and concepts.
By the end of 2016 we expect to have 5000 high resolution icons on offer. We also provide a customised service for our clients and create icons specifically for their demands; we see this area growing rapidly as clients have their own ideas which they like to mix with existing icons. We are working on a variety of new themes and styles that will be available to our partners shortly.
Can you provide us a brief insight into your priorities for BLE this year?
We are going to exhibit at BLE and you can find us at booth A45. We will be showing an increased content catalogue and discuss new merchandising, promotional and loyalty based concepts with our partners and we are very excited to meet our business partners in person again.
We will inform our partners about new activities for 2017; regarding content development, social media activities and the launch of our first App.
What’s on your priority list in terms of territories you next want to activate?
Our brand is now fully represented all over the world. We work with local agents in each territory and have entered into long lasting partnerships with category leading license partners. Throughout 2016 we generated visibility and recognition globally and by the time we are having this interview we have signed more than 170 stellar partnerships. Massive on pack promotions have already led to striking success by demonstrable increasing individual product sales by significant numbers. Upcoming loyalty programs substantiate the brand´s awareness at retail and will boost both existing and new merchandising programs created by license partners. Today, emoji® – the iconic brand is represented in over 60 countries. Our priority is to strengthen existing partnerships and continue to build new strategic alliances. We are also working on our CRM activities and have started the development of our own App with multiple functions to connect and to constantly inform customers about the official emoji® brand. We expect to launch the App in Q2/2017.
You have accomplished an enormous amount over the past two years for your new company, what’s next for emoji® – the iconic brand?
The development of the brand since our first appearance at the Licensing Expo in Vegas 2015 was truly amazing thanks to the overall acceptance of the emoji® brand in the market and the phenomenal performance of our partners. We have been able to establish the emoji® brand and to build a solid distribution network around the world in a very short time frame.
Today, the emoji® brand is successfully established in the fields of merchandising and promotions as well as being used to support and to push global marketing campaigns. Besides forming new strategic partnerships we are going to see some interesting cross promotions and sponsorships across Europe, North America and Asia in the next months. Major fashion retailers have already placed orders for the next seasons, shopping malls will be decorated by the emoji® brand and several publishing deals support the development of the brand.
Just recently we opened the emojistore.com to demonstrate the variety that lies in our brand and the first emoji® flagship store has just opened of which we are very proud. We are looking forward to an exciting end-of-year business and towards 2017.
Marco is a very clear thinker and does not hang around once he has made up his mind to do something. In this fast paced world we live in, Emojis have become a very effective way of communicating. Marcos has found a way to harness this language and use it to tap into the lifestyles of consumers of all ages and genders. The future looks bright for The Emoji Company.
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