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proactive and liaise regularly with the majority of licensees across diff erent categories. Since January 2011, we have signed close to 60 new deals across Europe, and the majority of these were the result of a targeted approach from SEGA’s side.


Once licensed, how much input do Sega have into toy product? We are very involved as we have to ensure that the product design and functionality is in line with our brand. We have a brilliant approvals team who are among the fastest in the industry, so that makes the process a lot smoother for everyone involved.


As the licensor, what do you have to keep in mind when working with the licensee? We have to respect the licensee’s expertise in their area, whilst also looking after the brand integrity and ensure that the products are of good quality and marry well with our brand identity. On top of this, we strive to support our licensees through marketing and PR initiatives, including social media campaigns. Good examples of this include in-store cross promotions and special campaigns tying in with our game releases for instance.


What time-scale is there from licensing to launch of the toy? The lead time for toy development tends to be 18 months, which is a challenge for us due to the shorter lead


times in videogames development. However, we are lucky to work with toy companies that are very agile and able to adapt quickly and come up with new concepts to tie in with our videogames releases.


In a competitive market, how do you ensure your product stands out? We like to utilise new technology, and we’ve recently worked with Smith & Brooks to develop t-shirts featuring Augmented Reality content that can be unlocked using your mobile device. We have a small collection of AR t-shirts which will be going into ASDA, Tesco and Next in November to tie in with the new game. We will be looking to incorporate this technology with more products going forward. We’re also currently reviewing our


packaging guidelines and have a brand new style guide coming out before Christmas, so this will provide a great new look for the brand with stand-out appeal.


What is the process of getting the toys to market? The toy manufacturer will need between 12-18 months to develop a new range and then they will present this to retailers at various trade fairs. We


We


currently have 3.1 million fans on the Sonic facebook page


support our partners by attending joint meetings and also meeting individually with retailers to provide updates on the brand. Once listings have been confi rmed it takes a minimum of four months to have the products manufactured and shipped, ready to hit the shelves.


What has been your most successful licensed Sonic product to date? In terms of volume, apparel has been the biggest category thus far with listings across the board in the UK, and increasing presence throughout Europe. The toys have also been very successful with strong sell through building confi dence at retail level.


How important is the marketing campaign and PR support currently for Sonic?


We invest in substantial marketing campaigns around the diff erent videogames titles, including TV, print and online media campaigns as well as signifi cant publicity generated by our dedicated PR team. We also use social media actively to engage with our fans and currently have 3.1 million fans on the Sonic facebook page.


Looking to the future, how do you see your Sonic’s licensing growing over the next year? Over the next year there will be a big focus on the expansion of toy distribution across Europe. Similarly, we will also be growing the apparel, publishing and stationery categories. We will have several new digital titles launching as well as a new boxed game, so there will be plenty of opportunities to link marketing campaigns across games and merchandise.


39 Sonic The Hedgehog





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