Licensing has a rich history and modern day licensing dates back to the late 1800, with Theodore Roosevelt to be the first celebrity to have his name licensed in 1902 (loc654). Ever wonder why we call a plush toy a Teddy Bear? Well a candy shop owner’s wife stitched a couple of bear dolls and offered them for sale after a good hearted bear hunting story of Mr. Roosevelt spread like a wild fire in the early 1900. The shop owner then asked permission to use President Teddy Roosevelt’s name to sell the bear, which he granted. And so based on a persona, the term Teddy Bear was born, along with licensing a product – now referred to as Consumer Products.
Unsurprisingly, Coca-Cola (origin May 8, 1886) is the most successful licensing brand on consumer products that started out as a marketing campaign by creating merchandise to give away for brand amplification when Coca-Cola was still only sold at soda fountains and not yet bottled. It eventually lead to licensed products such as chewing gum followed by cigars and candy in the start of the 1900 (loc725).
As for story characters, the first that inspired consumer products, were born in 1945 when the Reverend W. Awdry started documenting the bed time railway stories he told his son. Thomas the Tank Engine became a huge success and a cardboard train kit based on the character was created in 1957* and merchandise of the character is still sold today.
Jumping forward half a century, the world of licensing is taking on a whole new form with gaming and eSports on a massive rise, now inspiring licensed collaborations to captivate the highly coveted Gen Z and Millennial demographic who everyone is eager to engage on around product **.
The next decade will definitely reveal which brands are in the game and what Generation Alpha’s spending habits and customer experience will demand.
The power of licensing: harnessing brand equity: Michael Stone
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