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Atari Takes ActionAtari Takes Action

Atari is leveraging its classic gaming brand and logo in a licensing program aimed at taking the name into a whole new set of categories. Senior vice president for brand and licensing Charlotte Hargreaves talks with <i>License! Global</i>

April 6, 2018

4 Min Read

Atari is leveraging its classic gaming brand and logo in a licensing program aimed at taking the name into a whole new set of categories. Senior vice president for brand and licensing Charlotte Hargreaves talks with <i>License! Global</i> about Atari's plans

Classic gaming brand Atari has started a project to take the name and logo into new categories, following the consolidation of the Atari businesses under the umbrella of French company Infogrames. i1_449.jpg

The business originally started in California in the early 1970s as a hardware and software company supplying the arcade gaming industry. Now supplying software for multiple platforms, its classic brands include Atari itself, Pong, Asteroid, Break Out, Centipede and Millipede, plus newer gaming franchises Dragonball Z, My Horse & Me, Alone in the Dark and Test Drive. Of these, Alone in the Dark is part of Atari's licensing project.

The business is currently working on a transformation with a new senior management team in place. Results reported in June showed the company has halved its loss to $80.1 million, compared to the previous year, on revenues of $455.2 million.

Charlotte Hargreaves joined Atari in February as senior vice president for brand and licensing to kick start an international licensing program. A licensing professional, she has previously worked with Sony Consumer Products, Cookie Jar and BBC Worldwide. She is based at Atari's London office.

What is the vision for extending the Atari brand?

Atari is one of the most recognized logos in the world, but it has been underplayed – it is only seen on the game packaging. The market has been changing ever since Atari was founded in 1972 when it supplied hardware, as well as the Atari game software. We have changed with the market by being flexible and creating accessible entertainment. With merchandising we will be able to bring the brand to a new generation of people. It's great fun and there's a lot of excitement around the brand. People have been knocking on our door for years. i2_177.jpg

What categories are you looking at?

With the style trend for retro, we are pushing at an open door with the logo and graphics from our classic games. The creativity that is available means we can have a rich licensing program. Apparel is out first target, and we're aiming for the mid- to high-end boutique market for menswear and for the urban streetwear sector on womenswear. We're already talking to licensees and looking for a launch for spring/summer 2009 at the earliest. After fashion, we want to look at fashion accessories and homeware. The key is to look at how we can reflect the brand through fashion design. We're also thinking about art and publishing.

How are you working with the classic and the new properties?

There are two sides to the business: the trademarks, including the Atari logo and the original games, and the entertainment business that comprises the games franchises. But it's our classic portfolio that has the creative potential. We've had retailers from middle- to top-end stores contacting us, and that's exactly where we want to be. Merchandise can have the handwriting that retailers like because it gives them some exclusivity. We will explore co-branding, but at the moment I really want to get the program rolling forward with great products.

Are you going to work with licensing agencies?

We have decided to appoint specialist agencies and are in the process of finding the right people. The first is with Rocket Licensing for the United Kingdom, and we're talking to other agencies globally now. We're looking at boutique agencies that can really have fun with Atari, with people who can think outside the box.

Which countries are you looking at?

The key territories are the United States and the United Kingdom, but we are also keen to launch the licensing program in France, Spain, Italy and Germany. Australia and Japan are important, too. Because we are focused on fashion, it will come down to those countries where we've had a lot of activity and those markets where creativity and design lead. Those will be the drivers.

Why do you think the Atari brand resonates with consumers?

People know the game from the 1970s and 1980s, and in the early days of mixing DJs used Atari machines. But the games are also all available on the new platforms, so they are current as well as classic.

What's exciting about this project for you?

The focus for Atari has been on developing absolutely fantastic games, even thought it has been approached in the past about licensing. So I've come in and am working with an absolutely blank sheet. There is only one existing license in place (with Jakks Pacific in the United States for a plug-and-play joystick). The time is right for the Atari to move into licensing. There's a new team in place, and the company is absolutely able to do it.

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