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Push the boundaries of your trademark



Peter Leung, San Diego


More than just a source of additional revenue, licensing can be a way to grow and expand into new markets.

Pushing the boundariesThat was one of the messages from the panelists at yesterday’s session Leveraging Your Brands Through Alternative Revenue Streams.

Moderator Lauren Fernandez cited her previous work managing the Cinnabon brand as an example of how a powerful brand can be used in new and interesting ways.

“Brand research … showed us that the brand meant so many things to consumers: indulgence, treats, decadence—but it was really the sensory experience—not just the taste but also the smell that really resonated,” she said.

This realization has led to the licensing of the Cinnabon brand and distinctive scent into a range of products that go far beyond packaged food. Some of the more interesting products include Cinnabon-flavored vodkas and Cinnabon-scented air fresheners.

Alison Tan of Procter and Gamble made a similar point. The marks for Procter & Gamble’s Febreze odor-eliminating products have been licensed to areas that are natural extensions of the brand, such as laundry detergents. In addition, there are now Febreze-branded air purifiers. She explained that though some may argue that air purifiers are a replacement for the core Febreze products, Procter & Gamble saw it as an opportunity to expand into new and lucrative markets.

Judy McCool from HBO said that one challenge that she faces is trying to anticipate the markets that consumers want to see their branded products sold in. Though HBO’s business remains focused on television programs, it regularly has to arrange licensing deals for merchandise related to its more popular shows, sometimes in surprising markets. For example, in support of its “True Blood” program, HBO has partnered with a soft drink company to produce a real-life version of the drink consumed by the show’s main characters.

Licensing can even be a way to enter new geographical regions. Caldwell Camero of General Mills explained that because her company has a relatively small presence in some international markets, it has created a joint venture with Nestlé to sell and distribute many of its products abroad. The deal, she noted, has to be constructed carefully to delineate clearly which products are covered and how the IP is handled. That said, the JV has been a very successful endeavor, even though Nestlé and General Mills are fierce competitors in the U.S.


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