Licensee: Trudeau Corporation
Location: Headquartered in Quebec, Canada, with office and warehouse facilities in Canada and the U.S.
Company background: Trudeau Corporation is a century-old private family business specializing in the design, creation, marketing and distribution of housewares, including children’s dinnerware and accessories.
Product range: Licensed product targets infants/toddlers with non-spill cups and microwave-safe dinnerware, and tweens with interactive 3-D tumblers, lunch boxes and other accessories.
Retail channels: Product range is available worldwide in all channels of distribution (mass, mid-tier, specialty and the equivalent), as well as in drug store and grocery chains.
Licensing contact: Deborah Shannon Trudeau, VP of licensing and international business
Property portfolio: U.S.-Save the Children, Peanuts, Arthur, NASCAR Racers, Cardcaptors, Maisy, General Mills. Canada-Disney (all characters), Barbie, Teletubbies, Pokémon, Cardcaptors. Europe, Eastern Europe, Middle East & South Africa-Disney (all characters), Pokémon (Australia and New Zealand), Digimon (certain countries), Peanuts, Noddy. Worldwide-Hello Kitty, Butt-Ugly
The latest: Straight off the hot plate, new Trudeau licenses include Spider-Man: The Movie (North America, worldwide rights pending), Marvel’s classic X-Men line-up (North America) and 4Kids Entertainment’s Cubix (North America).
Licensing philosophy: According to VP of licensing and international business Deborah Shannon Trudeau, licensing today is a little bit like playing the stock market. ‘There are so many licenses out there, one after the other, and how long they’ll last and how well they’ll be received is another story,’ she says. ‘It’s difficult for everybody to assimilate all the opportunities and the activity. It’s hard for retailers, it’s hard for buyers, it’s hard for licensees who have to put a lot of money on the table and have to figure out which ones to gamble on’
Thus, Trudeau looks to partner with licensors that have solid, evergreen brands in their arsenals, as was the case with the company’s first license-Sesame Street-signed in 1987. ‘It’s a property that has some staying power,’ says Trudeau. ‘And that’s what we continue to look for.’ Properties should also be relevant to the dinnerware category and Trudeau’s core target demo of kids zero to five, as well as having international appeal.
‘Licensing has opened the door for us to become an international player,’ says Trudeau. ‘It’s really made our children’s dinnerware and drinkware category evolve and grow.’ But the road to building an international distribution network was no cakewalk. It took over 15 years and signing on Disney (the company’s best long-term licensed success) character by character in every country before Trudeau was granted a pan-European license.
Since, as Trudeau points out, a plate is a plate and a bowl is a bowl, how does the company create interest in its category? The Trudeau philosophy is to think outside the box, bring on fresh ideas and keep that retail shelf space interesting. ‘It’s really a spontaneous purchase, so if we’re going to capture that sale, we’ve got to make sure that it’s creative, it’s trendy and it’s functional enough to appeal to the child and the parent,’ says Trudeau. ‘We try to bring a lot of play value to our product, and the characters themselves should breed some fun as well.’
Credit check: ‘In this day and age, from a property licensing perspective, things have moved on quite significantly in terms of how we select partners,’ says Phil Ogden, director of sales at U.K.-based Just Group, Butt-Ugly Martians licensor. ‘Gone are the days when you can just stick a picture on the front of a standard plastic cup and get away with it.’
Trudeau’s creativity and category profile on the worldwide scene are what initially attracted Just Group’s interest. Faced with a number of potential licensees queuing up for Butt-Ugly Martians, Ogden ran through a mental checklist: ‘Can they represent our property effectively? Are their brands inspirational and in tune with our brand’s credentials? And can they support the business from a distribution perspective, but more importantly from a trade relationship and marketing perspective on a worldwide basis?’ Ogden muses. ‘And Trudeau got a tick in the box for all those key criteria.’
Based on the licensee’s work on the Butt-Ugly license, Just Group is trying to develop some of its other properties with Trudeau.