Perfetti Van Melle’s Mar Gili on how art, design and the element of surprise fuel brand extensions for Chupa Chups

Mar Gili – Design Coordinator at Perfetti Van Melle – talks us through collaborations with artists and designers that have propelled Chupa Chups into areas like fashion, food and even scooters…

Mar, it’s great to connect.
Hi Billy, yes, it’s great to get in touch.

To start us off, what first set you on the path to design?
Art and creativity have been always a must in my life. I get passionate about the power of design making daily life easier, efficient and more beautiful for everyone. I feel design is the perfect cross over between the emotional side of art with the needs of functionality of products. For me, design is a way to communicate and provoke positive feelings in people.

Your passion comes through loud and clear. How did your love of design meet the world of licensing?
I ‘fell into’ the licensing industry by chance. During my design degree – surprisingly – nobody explained about licensing… And yet it ended up defining my whole professional career so far!

In my first job I had the opportunity become familiar with this completely new universe. It was a nice and inspiring discovery, so I fell in love with licensing immediately!

Mar Gili, Perfetti Van Melle, Chupa Chups

You’re a Design Co-ordinator at Perfetti Van Melle. Talk us through what that role entails.
I’m the design expert of the licensing team, responsible for all brand approvals, designs and in charge of the global creative strategy. I oversee all product developments and suggest ideas and concepts to meet licensees’ objectives.

It’s a very challenging task because we have a huge variety of partners and categories – and they are active all over the world. I’m learning new things every day and that’s very stimulating and motivating!

“The lifestyle licensing programs that we build focus on a design strategy from the very start.”

I also coordinate new art developments with illustrators, artists and agencies to expand our brands’ image portfolio. That’s my favourite part! I get in touch with amazing people who provide a new creative vision of our brands that keeps them always evolving.

Mar Gili, Perfetti Van Melle, Chupa Chups

From the outside, it feels as if design plays a really important role in the sorts of brand extensions that you put together for your IP…
Absolutely! The lifestyle licensing programs that we build – first with Chupa Chups and later with Perfetti Van Melle’s other candy brands – focus on a design strategy from the very start.

“Every year, we invite renowned artists and fashion designers to do their own interpretation of the brand universe.”

Perfetti Van Melle has always given the licensing division the space to develop an independent design route. We created a model to analyse the brands’ DNA and iconography to determine the type of fashion style that would match with each of the brands. With that lifestyle personality, we have been creating new designs every year that merge the brand identity with the fashion trends they naturally align with.

Mar Gili, Perfetti Van Melle, Chupa Chups

You mentioned Chupa Chups there and that brand has successful launched all sorts of areas – everything from fashion to pet accessories to scooters… Why do think it’s been able to successfully stretch into so many categories?
Chupa Chups is a truly loved brand with a strong link with art because, as you may know, Salvador Dali was the creator of the logo in 1968.

I didn’t! What an interesting element to have as part of the brand’s DNA.
Yes, it forever marked our brand image and gives us a strong responsibility to honour that! We are proud to keep building and enlarging the art dimension of the Chupa Chups brand in every new collaboration.

Going back to your initial question, for us, the key is to keep the approach fresh and varied. Our rich art portfolio for Chupa Chups is the backbone that has allowed us to build a licensing program in so many categories.

Mar Gili, Perfetti Van Melle, Chupa Chups

We work with external designers and artists from all over the world. Every year, we also invite renowned artists and fashion designers to do their own interpretation of the brand universe. They are halo projects that help us drive attention to the brand and allow the consumers to engage with Chupa Chups in a totally new and premium way.

Everything is about surprising and offering a different and positive experience.

Mar Gili, Perfetti Van Melle, Chupa Chups

With art being so key to the brand, is a licensee’s approach to design a bit of a dealbreaker when crafting brand extensions for Chupa Chups?
Design is key if you want your product to stand out. We strongly believe in constantly generating surprises with the brands to capture the attention in the market. We challenge ourselves to tell different brand stories every time by tapping into our heritage and the pop icon trend to keep renewing our designs.

We take care of every small detail and yes, we screen our partners and approach them from a design sensibility perspective. When we have new partners on board, we give them all our support in terms of design and we work closely together to create amazing new Chupa Chups collections.

Mar Gili, Perfetti Van Melle, Chupa Chups

Let’s dive into some of these collaborations. D1 Milano recently launched a Chupa Chups line of watches. The collection looks great. So what appealed about working with D1 Milano and bringing the brand into that industry?
Yes, it’s a lovely collaboration!

We are very happy to partner with D1 because they really captured the tone and voice of the Chupa Chups brand. They created a premium collection inspired by the sweet side of the candy universe, using the most iconic lollipop flavours.

D1 is a partner with a high artistic sensibility who takes care of the project from a 360º perspective. The quality of the watches, the beautiful packaging, the creation of amazing windows at the point of sale and the great social media activation makes this collaboration an exciting experience.

Wearing this watch empowers you and provokes a sweet smile of happiness in your life and for those around you.

Mar Gili, Perfetti Van Melle, Chupa Chups

You mentioned that each watch reflects a different Chupa Chups flavour. From a design point of view, how are the flavours showcased in each piece?
D1 Milano based the creative development of the project on a ‘choose your flavour’ concept. For Chupa Chups, the aromas and the connection between colours and flavours are a key strategic concept… Our brand is all about aromas and colours!

“We welcome crazy ideas; they challenge the status quo and encourage you to view the brand from different angles.”

In this collection, D1 Milano proposed to work around Chupa Chups’ popular flavours: Cola, Apple and Berry, layered with a burst of pastel tones. This range of colours connects consumers with the sweetness of the brand and hints at their favourite flavours in a subtle way, which upgrades the collection to a premium category.

Mar Gili, Perfetti Van Melle, Chupa Chups

Looking ahead, what are some of the other exciting launches in the pipeline for the brand?
There are always exciting projects going on! We are always open to receiving proposals and suggestions. We welcome crazy ideas too because they challenge the status quo and encourage you to view the brand from different angles.

To list some of our recent projects… We partnered with Casio and the designer Maya Hansen presenting a nice Baby G watch collection for China.

Mar Gili, Perfetti Van Melle, Chupa Chups

We developed several amazing mall events in Malaysia and others are being set up as we speak in Singapore.

Mar Gili, Perfetti Van Melle, Chupa Chups

We’re also doing many successful food and beverage extensions with drinks, ice cream and pop corn.

Mar Gili, Perfetti Van Melle, Chupa Chups

The brands are also regulars with key fast fashion retailers and we have limited edition projects underway, like H&M’s Chupa Chups capsule collection in Asia.

I can’t disclose some of the other exciting projects that will come alive soon, but stay tuned because they will catch your attention, for sure!

Mar Gili, Perfetti Van Melle, Chupa Chups

Sold! I’ll keep my eyes open! Before I let you go, one final question: How do you fuel your creativity?
Creativity is everywhere, it’s just about paying attention to small details and changing the way you look around in your daily life.

In the design field, I keep on top of webinars, trend reports and relevant fairs because they are always a good source for inspiration. Also, nature is a perfect place to connect with beauty and peace, which is very necessary to keep focused.

To be honest, I’m lucky because in my job I’m in contact with a lot of different creative minds around the world and that offers me a constant creative exchange.

Mar this has been a pleasure. Thanks again for making time and good luck with all the exciting Chupa Chups activity you have on the go! And for anyone who wants to keep up with Perfetti Van Melle’s licensing work can check out the team’s Instagram account at @perfettivanmellelicensing here.

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