This year marks several milestones for Binney & Smith’s Crayola brand. Celebrating its centennial in 2003, Crayola will also occupy booth space at Licensing Show for the first time ever this month.
Crayola has been licensed for more than a decade, but now Binney & Smith is establishing a foundation for an integrated brand extension program. ‘We’re trying to build a network to help us reach out beyond the stigma of being a back-to-school/stationery company,’ says Rick Goralnick, Binney & Smith’s manager of global licensing, whose licensing career includes an eight-year stint with Hasbro. ‘We had done a lot of items, and now we’re looking at platforms and programs.’
When Goralnick joined the company last July, he looked at the licensed product in the Crayola archives and found that there was ‘a lot of label-slapping’ with Crayola logos and Crayon images. To go beyond that, Goralnick sent his team out to find A-list partners in toys, stationery/school supplies, apparel, accessories, bed, bath, home, publishing and food. ‘When you are looking to license and expand a corporate brand beyond its core, these tend to be the key categories you reach out to,’ says Goralnick, adding that they comprise ’75% of the [licensing] revenue derived from a corporate brand.’
But lest manufacturers get too excited at the prospect of taking on a mom-approved brand like Crayola, Goralnick warns that any licensed product must match the brand’s core equities – color, creativity, drawing and some type of personalized, unique outcome. For example, while Goralnick feels the company has sort of missed the boat on the wacky colored food trend, he is exploring opportunities such as brownie- and cookie-decorating kits that tie in color and allow for personal expression. ‘We shied away from getting involved in the food category in the past because we were looking at it myopically – we didn’t want to make edible crayons and promote the eating of them,’ he says.
In the toy category – a major strategic initiative for Binney & Smith – Goralnick says the company is looking to produce toys using outside inventors and designers, supplementing that activity with licensees. In addition to pursuing electronic/mechanical arts and crafts items, the company is edging in on the Play-Doh market in partnership with New York-based novelty manufacturer Fun 4 All.
‘Taking the Crayola brand and marrying it to dough is the best of both worlds,’ says Scott Bachrach, Fun 4 All president and founder. ‘We can offer parents something they would buy [based on brand approval], plus we can offer something to retailers from a margin perspective that we know they need.’ Sold into mass retailers like Toys ‘R’ Us, KB Toys and Kmart, as well as specialty outlets and independent gift stores, the Crayola Dough line is slated to hit shelves this month.
One of the most innovative items in the new range of dough, accessories and playsets is the Dough Doodler (US$12, at retail in July/August), a pen-like extruder that allows kids to write and draw with dough.