Marco can you tell us a little about your ongoing brand development and protection of your character library and also your new 3D and augmented reality advancement?
The emoji company is the owner of the emoji® trademark in 100+ jurisdictions all over the world and developed the world´s largest library of protected emoji® brand icons and designs for licensing of any kind. Our team of designers that sits on 3 continents proactively creates new content and that of course also includes offering our content in other dimensions, such as in full 3D. This content mostly gets used for marketing campaigns and are ideal for the integration into social media campaigns, for advertisement or function as a base model for characters used in events, attractions or entertainment services such as augmented reality realizations.
We have seen a number of high-profile collaborations with your brand including Kiss and BRITTO. Is this method something you will continue to pursue?
Brand Collaborations are an efficient tool to add value if the strategic and creative thinking is aligned. In such a case the partnering brands can both benefit from increased awareness and a greater outreach. It allows us to create truly unique and innovative products and to address new target audiences and increase our market share and generate additional revenue. We are generally open in considering high profile collaborations if they make sense.
You launched your first collectable/loyalty program with Aldi in Germany last year. How did this perform?
The program was launched in Q3/2019 and was a simultaneous program with both Aldi Süd and Aldi Nord for the German speaking market. It contained 24 collectible emoji® toy collectibles and the option to purchase a collector’s box in the stores. For every € 15 purchase price the consumer received one collectible toy. The program has received a fantastic perception and was supported by a massive marketing campaign throughout all social media channels, by print and outdoor advertisement and by a tremendous TV campaign.
From an Australian standpoint, Merchantwise were able to secure a partnership with Personalised Number-plates in Queensland. From all reports they have been a huge success. Do you have any on going plans in this category?
The personalized number plates partnership that Merchantwise has arranged here in Australia truly is an amazing partnership that perfectly underscores the scope of application for the emoji® brand and demonstrates the brands potential in business areas way beyond standard licensing categories. In Australia we are going to continue with this partnership while we of course started to research which other countries allow such mechanism. This is something that comes down to local jurisdiction in each country but where ever this is possible we are attempting to make this happen as well.
From a local perspective can you highlight your overall activities here in Australia?
We’re always excited by the variety, innovation and quality of emoji partnerships that come from Australia and NZ. With the assistance of our local agency Merchantwise we now have more than 15 partners across a diverse array of categories, from apparel, publishing, homewares and automotive products to FMCG and promotions. Fashion has always been a core category, with presence at retailers such as Big W, The Warehouse and Best & Less. Last year we launched the world’s first emoji personalised license plates in Queensland – sales exceeded everyone’s expectations and emoji® is now their #1 selling plate. This strong consumer reaction has led to a second wave of designs being released this year. The brand must really resonate with Australian drivers, as we’ve now had multiple success stories in the automotive category – the emoji® air-fresheners from Who-Rae have been our bestselling item downunder! In 2020, our focus is on more FMCG partnerships such as TV advertising campaign with Wrigley’s Eclipse Mints and our new cake decorations with Dr Oetker. In the publishing world, Scholastic is developing new formats for including the first emoji-pedia. We are also working with the Perth Mint to create limited edition emoji® collector coins. We are also excited to launch our new crossover collaborations with the likes of KISS, BRITTO and Atari, to bring something new and fresh to the program.
How is the U.S. market for you?
The U.S. market historically is a strong market for our brand. We have a great existing licensing roster that includes partnerships with leading firms such as ACCO Brands (Calendars, Alcove Brands (Health & Vitamins); ASO (First Aid), Bendon (publishing), Bentex Group ( Toddler Apparel )Centric Brands (sleepwear), DanDee International (Seasonal & Non-Seasonal Toys, Collectibles, Home Décor, Pet and Baby Products), David’s Textiles (fabric), Decopac (cake decorating), Fabpops (Mobile Accessories), Gotta Love It (apparel), Handcraft Manufacturing Corp. ( Children´s Underwear ), Isaac Morris, LTD (Apparel); Jay Franco (domestics), Paramount Brands (fragrance), RedBubble (Fan Art/E-Commerce); Running Press (publishing), Strikeforce Bowling (bowling), Success Promotions (promotional products and emoji “Attitude” bobble.), ( Townley (HBA), Trends International, LLC- Posters and Stickers, Unique (partyware), Unitrex SpaRoom (Automotive Air Fresheners), World Tech Toys (toys), and ZAK! Design (Dinnerware, Drinkware and Food Storage). For 2020 there are some exciting new partnerships coming from the US with a global impact which we will be able to announce in the next months.
The evolution of the emoji brand has been very steady, most of your foundation partners continue to grow with you so what’s the secret?
It Is true that both the development and the growth of the brand has been very steady since its launch. From a management and company perspective we like to maintain partnerships and to foster them, we are a highly service driven company that listens to the demands of its licensees and rapidly adapts to the requirements of a fast-changing consumer goods markets. Beyond that the emoji® brand is the perfect brand to communicate with and it allows our partners to convey crystal clear consumer messages in the most fun and expressive way. Finally the brand has a true family potential and is beloved by a universal target audience of any gender and any age demographic which makes the brand suitable for everyone.
Can you give us one or two trends for the emoji® brand for 2020?
Throughout 2020 will see some great campaigns and partnerships with existing and new clients. There will be multiple loyalty campaigns around the globe as well as significant DTR programs with leading retailers in multiple territories. There will be global fashion collaborations and a variety of new products such as emoji® shaped vitamins. It will be another exciting year for the brand and the emoji company.
Can you tell us a little about the progress of your retail shopfronts?
In 2019 we opened our first 3 emoji® mono-brand apparel stores in China as well as the official emoji® brand store on TMall. Throughout 2020 we are going to open another 10 stores in China and will launch additional online stores on other platforms. The aim is to open at least 100 emoji® mono brand stores in China within the next 4 years. Together with our Chinese partner we develop and offer our own emoji® apparel collections inspired by urban, sports and streetwear fashion. In 2020, the product portfolio will be extended to fashion accessories and bags as well. In addition to that we are going to open the first emoji® brand tea stores in the region, a perfect concept to engage the consumer with the emoji® brand.
What is your outlook for the year ahead?
Next to managing the day to day licensing business we are working on some bigger projects at the moment, in particular analyzing our options in building a permanent experience park. As you can imagine this is a large project, we will keep The Bugg Report updated as soon as we can tell you more.
We read recently that your most recent intuitive is to move into the toy market. Can you elaborate on this please?
Given the success of our collectible toy loyalty campaigns that we already ran in various places around the world we started to analyze the potential for a general toy collectible line and other possible items. First talks have been held with potential partners but it takes some time to define the right product and launch strategy for this market segment.