Entertainment Makes Its Mark in Food

Food and drink represents a very particular opportunity in Europe. The region boasts highly competitive supermarket chains operating at different scales, and a consumer and legislative culture wanting food promoted in a m

April 6, 2018

Entertainment Makes Its Mark in Food

Food and drink represents a very particular opportunity in Europe. The region boasts highly competitive supermarket chains operating at different scales, and a consumer and legislative culture wanting food promoted in a more sensible way, particularly to children. Deals, such as Disney's lines with Tesco and Carrefour and Asda's link with Lazytown, are capturing the new spirit of food licensing. But Warner Bros. Consumer Products' recent deal with French supermarket group, Système U, is the most comprehensive so far and gives a good example of how entertainment and retail brands can succeed together in this category.

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talked to Stéphane Fillastre, director of retail and business development at WBCP, EMEA, about the deal that has gained Système U 1 percent market share on a national basis since the start of the campaign and resulted in significant increase in both sales and volumes in product categories where Looney Tunes Active is present.

WBCP is tireless in defining a strategic

mission for each of its classic superhero brands and it is this strategic mission that informs the Système U deal. "For the last three years we have had three major signals on our agenda," says Fillastre. "First, there is the rise in concern about obesity in children and cash-strapped governments are pushing the responsibility for action back to businesses. Second, as a licensor we have to refresh our brands. It is no longer enough to put the character, however good, on some product packaging, there must be added value in the association and some form of storytelling. Third, we have to consider how the landscape of traditional promotional arrangements with 'national' brands (those from P&G, for example) is changing and find alternative revenue streams."

WBCP went to retail with a proposition for a range of Looney Tunes Active food products. "We know that private label is growing and that retailers understand that private label products can be marketed for their added value," says Fillastre.

Système U wants to widen the appeal of its private label range and to achieve 40 percent of overall sales through sales of private label products. So an exclusive deal was done and the first products launched in June 2009. The product range, now standing at 140 items, is aimed squarely at children and includes ice cream, biscuits, yogurts, cereal and fruit juices. The range will soon grow to 200 items and include frozen foods, fruit and vegetables, confectionery, condiments and preserves. This makes it the most comprehensive food DTR deal in central Europe and has differentiated Systéme U from other retail chains and even national brands.

Fillastre makes it clear that although WBCP has strong DTR partnerships existing in apparel, there are many challenges tackling such a substantial new category like this. "You do three or four times the research and the work and there is a huge process of education, transferring your business know-how to another organization and getting to know their business in detail," he says.

Systéme U recognized the potential of a long-lasting partnership with Warner Bros., as well as the exclusivity on offer and Warner's ability to provide full servicing and support. But Fillastre says in the end, the success of the deal depends heavily on the DNA of the property and its execution. "The nature of Looney Tunes Active is instrumental in this deal's success. The storytelling abilities of the brand, its relevance and its execution across the entire campaign have made it work. When the market is tough, retailers only want to work with brands that are absolutely safe bets."

Throughout, WBCP has been clear about what the Looney Tunes Active program brings to the product range. It is about encouraging an active lifestyle and the company hasn't made any promises about product ingredients.

"We don't control the manufacturing process," says Fillastre. "We are lending our assets. You have to be clear what you are stating." The energy of the Looney Tunes Active characters is conveyed consistently across every piece of collateral to do with the campaign and customer feedback so far indicates that shoppers like the creative execution and the use of the characters and don't find it intrusive.

Système U invested substantially in the launch of Looney Tunes Active through radio, online and in 1 million retail circulars, as well as an instant-win scratch card promotion, and continues to invest in marketing the range. "For our part, we have to come up with a constant stream of news and initiatives for the brand, such as fresh content or cross-merchandising efforts," says Fillastre. At the moment, this is a French deal, but it has been highlighted as a best practice and WBCP is researching whether it can replicate the arrangement in different territories with retailers similar to Système U. "I would like, by the year end, to have another partnership like this in place so that there are products launching in 2011," concludes Fillastre.

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