Pink Key Licensing’s Nancy Jones on creating perfect products for Pringles

What’s the ethos of Pringles? Nancy Jones discusses Pink Key Licensing’s products, passion and process.

Nancy, you work for Pink Key Licensing. How did you come to be there? What were you doing before?
Like many people in the industry, I stumbled into licensing. It was actually right place, right time. Richard Pink – the infamous Pink in Pink Key Licensing – was looking for some ad-hoc help. After years in the City, I was doing some freelance work and pondering my next move after having my daughter. Ten years later…

Wow. Ten years on the back of “ad-hoc help”! So now, how important is creativity in what you do?
It’s at the very heart of it! We’re so lucky that our brands have really strong assets for licensees to work with – and we encourage them to be as creative as they can be with them. Really great licensed product starts with the creative team; they’re taking a well-known brand and putting it in an area that it isn’t ordinarily in. Not only that, it’s also often in a saturated market… It has to stand out to do well! But the key is also staying true to the brand. Really great creatives just get it!

With that in mind, let’s talk about Pink Key being the exclusive European licensing agent for Pringles. Actually, first – not really your remit, but I can’t get a handle on this – do you know how many flavours there actually are?!
Globally, there are countless flavours! Some are exclusive to certain countries – like Black Pepper Crab in South Korea! But I can tell you with confidence the ranking of the most popular flavours in the UK: Original, Sour Cream & Chives, Paprika, Salt & Vinegar, then BBQ!

Nancy Jones, Pink Key Licensing
I didn’t realise some flavours were country exclusive; that makes sense now! And in terms of licensing them, what’s the brand’s ethos?

The brand’s ethos is that Pringles exist to inspire people’s playful curiosity. We apply that exact same ethos to the licensing programme. The recently revamped style guide has been created with the brand’s ‘Passion Points’ at the very forefront: music, gaming, summer and so on; social settings where the very heart is about constantly finding the fun in every day moments and looking to share that with others. Pringles is the Ingenious Creator – bringing unnecessary genius to salty snacks, life and licensed products!

“Pringles bring unnecessary genius to salty snacks, life and licensed products!”

Oh, my word! What an answer… “Unnecessary genius to salty snacks, life and licensed products.” Great! I tell you what, Nancy, after we finish speaking, take the rest of the day off!
Ha! Thank you, I will!

So – by way of example – what kind of thing do you currently do?
We have some very exciting products just about to launch. I know you’ve been speaking to the very talented Nat Marco, for instance! Nat invented the very first Pringles game, working with our licensee Ypernova.

Nancy Jones, Pink Key Licensing
You’re very well informed! I HAVE been speaking to Nat; for our sister magazine, Mojo Nation. What is the game, though?

It’s a ‘pop’ quiz – see what Nat did there?!

Ha! Very good! I love a pun!
Well, we’re hoping that’ll be in the market in spring. Also – and this is a great example of putting that creative hat on – we’re about to launch a range of Pringles Pet Toys. You heard it here first!

Oh, no way? Really?!
Yes, really! Squeaky, soft Pringles cans for your best friend – what’s not to love about that?!

Nothing; I love it! And scanning the horizon, what qualities – generally speaking – are you looking for in licensees?
There are the obvious ones: great quality materials and excellent sustainability policies, but ultimately a team that loves the brand, ‘gets’ it and can really bring it to life.

Nancy Jones, Pink Key Licensing

Good answer. And when you’re exploring opportunities, what tend to be the biggest challenges?
I’ve talked about how much we love our brands, but not everyone’s going to feel the same way of course. It can be frustrating when we have a great idea for new products but can’t find the right partner to bring it life.

“The industry is really starting to embrace more digital concepts… We’d love to be in the middle of it.”

Are there any areas you’re looking to get into and would love to hear from potential partners about?
The industry is really starting to embrace more digital concepts… It’s an exiting time for this, from Non-Fungible Tokens to the Metaverse… We’d love to be in the middle of it.

After you have found the right partner, what tends to be the process when you’re developing products for Pringles?
Usually, the licensee comes up with the concept. We work between them and the brand to take that through the design process – from the very first sketch to the finished product ready for sale. It’s usually a very straightforward and enjoyable process. Once the brand’s seen a physical sample of the finished product it’s go, go, go. I absolutely love walking into a retailer and seeing our products on the shelf – it never gets old.

Nancy Jones, Pink Key Licensing
We need to start wrapping this up, Nancy, but I have a couple more questions… First, what’s the name of the mascot that’s on every tube of Pringles?

That’s our dear Mr P! He’s very much front and centre of the brand, and is there on every licensed product. In fact, you can’t make any product without him on there.

Oh, is that right? Mr P is brand critical?
Absolutely… And actually, he’s recently had a bit of a glow up! A recent global re-brand of Pringles has seen him change for the first time in 20 years. But he’s bold and beautiful as ever.

I thought he looked a bit different! Alright… So, Nancy: what’s the one question I could’ve asked you but didn’t?
What’s my favourite Pringles flavour!?

Ha! Naturellement! And what’s the answer?
Not Black Pepper Crab! It’s BBQ.

Fantastic – a woman after my own heart! Nancy, this has been very informative and a lot of fun. Thank you again for making time to speak to us; keep us posted on how things go!

Nancy Jones, Pink Key Licensing

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