WildBrain CPLG, a world-leading entertainment, sport and brand licensing agency, has rebranded its Lifestyle division under the new name ASPIRE, with an expanded mandate to accelerate growth of the agency’s Corporate & Lifestyle brands portfolio. LM interviewed Victoria Whellans, Commercial Director for ASPIRE, to know more.
How was the new ASPIRE division born, and how is it organized?
The Lifestyle division at WildBrain CPLG was first created two years ago when we recognised the need to have a dedicated team focused on maximising the long-term revenue of our growing Corporate & Lifestyle portfolio. Since then, the division has become an integral pillar for the agency as we continue to evolve and expand our business.
The rebrand of the division earlier this year to ASPIRE, further reflects our commitment to supporting our Corporate & Lifestyle partners and makes a clear distinction between brands that fall under ASPIRE, and those that sit within the entertainment or sport sectors.
In comparison to brands in the entertainment space, those within Corporate & Lifestyle can be more complex, are often new to licensing and can require a more high-level and strategic approach. Quite often, we’re targeting licensees that are different to those we would typically work with across our entertainment line-up.
We currently have 18 brands in the ASPIRE portfolio, which has expanded and diversified rapidly over the last two years with the addition of Malibu, Harvard University, the University of Southern California, renowned international artist Romero Britto, Master Lock and SentrySafe as well as Sauber Motorsports and its Alfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen, and most recently, fashion brand Lyle & Scott.
My role is Commercial Director, ASPIRE, based out of our HQ in London. I’m responsible for leading the division and working closely with our licensors to understand their licensing goals and objectives, shape a long-term, impactful strategy and ensure we’re effectively executing against this strategy. We currently have new business executives working across North America and Europe with additional team members joining the team imminently based in our Shanghai office, plus partnerships managers who lead our licensor relationships. Together, we’re focused on driving the business across our portfolio of brands and working closely with our local teams on the ground across our 20 international offices to activate opportunities on a local level.
I’m also working closely with Jasen Wright, our VP of North America, as a key priority is to grow our portfolio of Corporate & Lifestyle brands and programmes within the North American market.
What will the division focus on?
We have a diverse portfolio of brands, including FMCG, such as Absolut Vodka, Malibu Rum, Mentos; collegiate brands: Yale University, Harvard University, University of Southern California; hardware brands: Master Lock & SentrySafe and cleaning technology giant Karcher; fashion brand: Osprey London and for motorsports: the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen and premium engine oil brand Motul.
As our portfolio is so varied, we’re focused on bespoke category areas for each of our brands. For example, we’re extending the Master Lock brand into firearm storage, garage and home storage, tools, automotive storage and indoor security. For Malibu Rum, we’re focused on securing partners in the fashion category, frozen and chocolate space, and for Alfa Romeo F1 Team, we’re looking at die-cast, collectibles, e-mobility and lifestyle products.
We’re also delighted to have recently secured rights to fashion brand Lyle & Scott. This Scottish heritage brand has forged a path of innovation and style spanning almost 150 years—first making its mark with high quality knitted garments, to becoming a mainstay in British men’s fashion in the 1960s, and later seeing their products grace the catwalk, golf course, football stadium terraces and concert halls as the brand, and golden Eagle brand mark, became synonymous with British sub-cultures and youth movements. We’re focused on extending this brand into broader categories, such as personal care, homewares, gifting and experiences.
What do you think is currently the importance of the Corporate & Lifestyle categories for the industry?
We’re certainly seeing a growing number of brands within the Corporate & Lifestyle space exploring the world of licensing, with brand owners increasingly seeing the value in extending their brand through consumer products in order to increase their revenue in a relative low risk way, reach new consumers, expand into new channels or retail aisles and increase their brand engagement. Corporate & Lifestyle licensing is a growing sector and is the number two category behind entertainment/character licensing. Brands in this space are often evergreen household names and give both retailers and licensees the security of a sustainable licensing programme. For consumers, given the trust and familiarity they have with these types of brands, they will be more receptive to buying broader and deeper into it as there’s already an established relationship in place.
Among all lifestyle brands, university ones are gaining great importance. Can you give us an overview of your collegiate IPs?
We’re fortunate to represent two of the top Ivy League colleges: Yale University and Harvard University across EMEA, India, Australia and New Zealand as well as Yale in China. We also represent the University of Southern California, a leading private research university, which complements our Yale and Harvard programmes and enables us to mix the collegiate trend with a Sou-Cal aesthetic.
We’ve represented Yale University since 2017 and with the addition of Harvard University a few years later, have seen our collegiate programmes go from strength to strength. We’ve positioned these in the EMEA market as a fashion lifestyle offering, playing into the collegiate and American fashion trends and their appeal in EMEA via popular culture. We’ve secured and launched ranges at major global fashion retailers, such as Zara, H&M, Primark as well as leading local retailers, including Reliance Trends in India. Through the success in fashion, we’re now extending the brands into wider category areas, such as accessories, footwear, homewares and gifting.
What are ASPIRE’s flagship IPs?
Each and every brand in our growing portfolio across fashion, luxury, FMCG, hardware, automotive, art and heritage institutions, has its own unique proposition and consumer products potential.
From Master Lock – the number one padlock brand in North America and a subsidiary of Fortune Brands Home & Security, a Fortune 500 company; Alfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen, owned and operated by Sauber Motorsports, which has 30 years of history in Formula One; Absolut, the world’s leading premium vodka and the sixth-largest spirits brand globally and Malibu, the world’s number one flavoured spirit brand, to British-born Revolution Beauty, one of the fastest-growing beauty brands in the world sold in over 60 countries, the prestigious Yale University as mentioned, and most recently the fashion brand, Lyle & Scott.
Which territories will you intend to cover?
ASPIRE has a global remit and with an international team in place, we can secure rights for all territories depending on each brand’s licensing objectives and target regions.
What are your goals for 2023?
We’re hugely committed to the ongoing success and growth of the ASPIRE division. We have ambitious plans to expand our team globally as we continue to build our Corporate & Lifestyle portfolio and bring exciting and innovative partners on board.