Andrew Carley, head of global licensing, eOne
In 2013, Entertainment One purchased U.S.-based brand licensing agency Art Impressions as part of its global expansion efforts, and with it, eOne acquired the rights to Art Impressions' So So Happy brand. Andrew Carley, eOne's head of global licensing, is clearly thrilled with the progress the company has made with the brand since the acquisition of Art Impressions a year ago.
"It has been a very busy and exciting year. Art Impressions and So So Happy were a perfect fit for eOne, because for some time, we had been keen to move into licensing non-television properties," says Carley. "But when we acquired the property, it meant a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and so first we had to develop a much more targeted look and then develop a marketing plan that worked for that new look. From that plan, we organized our roll out strategy."
Although So So Happy creator Cindy Bailey (and Art Impressions founder) brought the brand into existence as a response to the bullying suffered by her son at school, the new look and focus has subtly changed.
"While the anti-bullying message is still there as a backdrop, the message is much more about well-being and positivity, and the property is now much more tightly focused at young female teens," explains Carley.
Emphasizing this change, Bailey points to the So So Happy tag line, "Be lucky, spread love and believe in yourself," to stress the brand's deep meaning.
"The brand is about self-confidence and belief in one's self," says Bailey. "I believe that our goals of hope, belief in yourself and kindness are messages that are timeless and that will transcend geographical and cultural barriers resonating with teenagers everywhere."
Prior to its acquisition by eOne, the brand had, aside from one publishing deal, existed only as a consumer products brand. eOne has strategized and put plans into place to greatly expand the So So Happy brand footprint.
Despite this development, Carley is adamant that there are no plans for a television series currently, but he remarks that the option is not off the table for the future.
"I would never say never to a television presence," says Carley.
With its roots in merchandise, significant plans are already underway for the So So Happy consumer product campaign.
"The main licensing program started about five years ago in the U.S., but lacked focus," recalls Carley, a point he illustrates through emphasizing the diverse retail channels in which early So So Happy was distributed. It was simultaneously carried by both retailer Toys 'R' Us and Hot Topic. "So, we had to pull it back and start again, this time focusing on young female teens."
Cindy Bailey, founder, Art Impressions, and creator, So So Happy
In pursuit of this strategy, eOne has now signed three core licensees for the U.S. market–Goodie Two Sleeves, Iron Fist and Lounge Fly. According to Carley, the product ranges will be aspirational mid-market fashion ranges. eOne has also not ruled out a pop-up shop campaign.
In the U.S., plans are underway for a flagship store in Los Angeles, Calif., says Bailey, set to open by the end of next year. The flagship retail location will cap off the full launch of a stateside campaign that Carley envisages will happen in early 2015.
Once the roll out has started and gained traction in the U.S., the next markets on the agenda will be the U.K. and Australia, which Carley anticipates launching late next year.
"We want to make sure that we have got the campaign right in the U.S., however, before we jump into the U.K. and Australia," says Carley.
Once launches are underway in these three markets, Carley says that other territories will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
eOne will also look to the U.S. program and its successes before determining a roster of licensees for the wider global launch of the So So Happy licensing program.
"Whether we use the same licensees in the U.K. and Australia as we have signed in the U.S. is something on which we will keep a determinedly open mind," says Carley. "We will take a close look at how things work in the U.S., and we will also have a close look at the precise nature of local campaigns and what local licensees can offer and we will make our minds up then."
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