The Bugg Report recently caught up with Tom Punch and Yvonne King from Haven Licensing, to get their thoughts on their brands and the evolution of Haven.
Tom, can you give us a snapshot of how your business has changed and what the future holds for Haven?
Our business is evolving as it has been for 22 years and that’s what keeps us excited and motivated to continually be at the cutting edge of brand commercialisation, retail execution and marketing. We’re expanding our focus into new areas and we see Haven’s future evolving into three distinct divisions of Entertainment, Sports and Fashion & Lifestyle Brands. We have dedicated people with responsibilities to grow these new areas and we’ll be announcing more from Toy Fair through to Licensing Show… stay tuned!
A lot of the change in focus for 2016 and beyond is driven by our desire to take our brand expansion expertise into new fields and have a lot of fun disrupting new categories. Retailers globally are continually looking to expand their footprint and stay at the forefront of consumer trends, not just in the entertainment space but also in music, fashion, sports and lifestyle. We are building Haven to have an incredibly diverse offer for our retail partners and licensees.
Entertainment of course, continues to be the backbone of our business and there’s LOTS of exciting activity coming up across our portfolio and many of incredible brands which have made up Haven for so long such as Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, Hello Kitty, Cartoon Network, Mr Men & Little Miss and more. These will continue to be massive pillars in our business, with new and exciting announcements coming soon.
Yvonne, social media, online media and the fast paced world that we live in nowadays creates new challenges for business. How have you adapted to meet these new demands and what are you working on from a retail and promotional angle for your brands?
Well I think challenges and opportunities are created in equal measure as a result of the multiple ways consumers get their information and ideas, in fact I’d like to think they’re more weighted to opportunity. For one, new brands have emerged from social media platforms – we are having a great time with our EMOJI program which launched late last year through Big W. EMOJI’s have become a language in their own right, they’re immediately recognisable and they can tell pretty much any story you like through the huge variety of icons available.
Likewise Facebook’s very own emoticon started to get some serious traction on launch in the UK last year and we are looking forward to launching Pusheen this month. It’s a little bit Garfield meets EMOJI and is proving to be a huge hit with girls & women of all ages. It’s a great brand for social expression, gifting & apparel and with international retailers like H&M, Women’s Secret, Hot Topic & Primark going out with product this year, I think it will be a massive hit for whichever retailer has the vision to put their stake in the ground and take ownership of it locally.
Tom, can you share with us some of the new and existing brands that you are working on and what excites you about these.
There’s a lot going on in the portfolio at the moment, some of which I’m at liberty to say… some of which I’m not! The diversity of what we’re working on has always been one of the most exciting things about running Haven. We have some incredible preschool shows coming down the pipe with the likes of Nickelodeon’s Paw Patrol dominating the scene at the moment and a wave of new announcements ready for Toy Fair. We’re strong in young adults and teens and are excited about the incredibly funny and totally irreverent We Bare Bears from Cartoon Network.
The V8 Supercars has been a fabulous success story so far, with the licensing business growing by over 500% in the first 18 months of our management. A wave of new partners, new retailers and new sponsorship partners will be announced soon and it’s been really invigorating to work on a brand which is so embedded into Australian culture. You will see more in the Sports area from us soon.
In a totally different direction, we are developing exciting new opportunities in the fashion and lifestyle blogger space, working with manufacturing partners, different retailers and a totally different licensing mechanic which could transform the way we work with brands like this and the way they’re presented to market.
There are always commercial sensitivities around announcing new partnerships, but hopefully when we do they’ll be well received by the market and we’ll be sure to keep the BUGG Report up to speed!
Yvonne, from a brand collaboration angle, can you tell us a little about your major brand activations from 2015 and what we can look forward to seeing from Haven in 2016?
One of our favourite collaborations from 2015 was Peter Alexander’s remarkable Sesame Street campaign. He was the first commercial partner EVER to be granted access to the actual set of Sesame Street in New York to photograph his catalogue and film vignettes with the muppets and he walked away with an incredible story to tell about the brand with complete authenticity. The campaign won two industry awards including the Creative Design and Execution Award at the Australian Catalogue Awards 2015 and we are hopeful there are a couple more to come this year.
Also super exciting for us was the launch of the world first Hello Kitty Diner at Chatswood Chase’s interchange which attracted a huge following on social media before it even opened! Our Hello Kitty x Bondi Bather collaboration was a runway success with our launch at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week and we have just seen the launch of Leroy Nguyen’s beautiful high end fashion range.
Cotton On’s Mr Men & Little Miss January campaign was another winner. They collaborated with the owners of the brand to introduce the all new Mr Superhero which became a best seller in their 80+ sku range. Their promotional overlay “Which One Might You Be?” told a terrific story and the photography, social media and instore marketing across the promotion was some of the best we’ve ever seen. We’ve many more collabs in the works for 2016 but as with all good surprises… they have to be… well, surprises!