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Thomas Merrington, creative director, Penguin Ventures (part of Penguin Random House Children's), speaks exclusively to License Global as we delve deeper into the modern location-based experience market.
March 28, 2022
LG: How would you define location-based entertainment (LBE) and its role in consumer engagement?
TM: Location-based entertainment is a hugely important and growing category to Penguin Ventures. Live shows, exhibitions and immersive experiences enable us to reach audiences directly to build affinity and emotionally connect fans to our IP (The World of Peter Rabbit, The World of The Snowman, Spot and The Flower Fairies). LBE offers a significant opportunity to bring our classic brands to life off the page in an impactful and memorable way. Everything we do in the live and experiential space is in service to the audience, and we want to make sure that we are creating special memories for existing and new audiences.
What is Penguin Ventures' approach to opening new licensing opportunities through LBE?
We try to take a balanced approach. With LBE, there is enormous scope to create bespoke merchandise unique to each experience and offer something new to the fans. With that in mind, we always work with our existing licensing partners in the first instance, wherever possible, to create new product lines. A prime example is our “World of Beatrix Potter Attraction” in the Lake District. Not only do they sell almost every single Peter Rabbit product from our U.K. partners, but they also have a bespoke collection of merchandise exclusive to the attraction. We are also about to open a landmark Peter Rabbit exhibition in Japan, touring three cities with over 200 bespoke lines of merchandise and collaborations, so some exciting product launches are exclusive to the exhibition. And as the rights holders to The World of Peter Rabbit, we have licensed a bespoke range of merchandise to accompany the current V&A Exhibition, “Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature.” Furthermore, we are also in a unique position as a publisher to offer custom books for our various live events and partnerships.
Do you have any prime examples of your latest experiential initiatives?
We've had a fantastic start to the Peter Rabbit 120th anniversary year with many new experiences launching or in development. Our most recent launch is the brand-new “Peter Rabbit: Explore and Play” attraction in partnership with Silvergate Media and Merlin Entertainments, a standalone, million-pound attraction in Blackpool that brings the Peter Rabbit TV brand to a young family audience.
We have also built our own “Peter Rabbit Storytime Trail” – a wooden panel, interactive exhibition touring libraries and galleries across the U.K. through to 2024 – enabling our youngest fans to enjoy the original illustrations from the classic Beatrix Potter tales without the need for exhibition conditions. Our landmark “Happy Birthday Peter Rabbit” exhibition in Japan is launching soon – the first time all our original Peter Rabbit watercolors have been overseas – as well as a new “Peter Rabbit English Garden” attraction at the base of Mount Fuji.
We are working on some exciting plans for additional experiences to launch later this year for “The Snowman and The Snowdog” (in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the animated sequel to Raymond Briggs' classic picture book), which we look forward to announcing in due course.
Where do you see the future of the global LBE marketplace going?
We are fortunate to be the custodians of brands that resonate and appeal to international audiences, so LBEs form a central part of our strategy for global growth. Technology is at the core of many immersive new experiences, and I think this will continue to explode across LBE in licensing. The developments in technology offer so many opportunities for much-loved classic brands, such as those in our portfolio, to be experienced in entirely new and exciting ways. We are currently exploring how digital technology can work alongside heritage properties to bring our brands to life like never before.
This year’s Licensing Expo in Las Vegas (May 23-25, 2022) brings LBE to life as its core theme. Stay tuned for more exclusive insights from our LBE series online or register to attend Licensing Expo here.
Read more about:Penguin Ventures
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