The Point.1888’s Janine Richmond discusses how creativity, humour and fun fuel partnerships for Tom Gates

Janine Richmond, Head of Product and Brand at The Point.1888, tells us what the agency has planned for the smash-hit Tom Gates brand.

The year has seen the first ever range of products land based on Liz Pichon’s Tom Gates children’s book range and The Brilliant World of Tom Gates TV series.

The back-to-school range, exclusive to Sainsbury’s, included items like gel pens, backpacks and a colour-in pencil case, and was supported by a month-long in-store POS campaign and a national competition.

The retail promotion was arranged by The Point.1888 – the brand licensing agent for Tom Gates in the UK – as part of a wider brand programme to encourage children to get creative through doodling, music and crafting.

To find out more about the Tom Gates brand activity, we spoke with Janine Richmond, Head of Product and Brand at The Point.1888.

Janine Richmond, The Point.1888

Janine, great to catch up. You guys are the brand licensing agent for Tom Gates. What categories does the brand lends itself well to?
Creativity, humour and fun are at the heart of the Tom Gates brand, so it was crucial to identify product categories where these can be applied. The back to school stationery and apparel ranges have been great fun to create and are all performing well.

We also have some games and puzzles in development which are looking epic and the forthcoming arts and crafts range is another I’m personally very excited about.

Lots to look forward to there. For any licensees reading that are interested in Tom Gates, what do they need to know about getting the best out of the brand?
For the leading licensees – BB Designs, University Games, Woodmansterne, Poetic Brands and Aykroyds & Sons – who all signed up early on in the programme, their talented teams were able to develop inspiring, fun ranges with elements of surprise. This was important to the Tom Gates brand and key to the sales success we’ve been seeing.

Any licensees interested in joining the Tom Gates programme need to ensure they can create products that are inclusive and engaging but also inspiring. Consumers want new things and we believe that this programme can deliver new products that also bring about positive change in children’s creative development.

What is it about the brand that makes it a fun one for designers at licensees to create product for?
Liz Pichon’s style is truly unique and encourages children of all ages to be creative, whether it’s by creating a simple doodle or dressing up in costume. This accessible style is also reflected in the vast and impressive library of assets available and her collaborative approach to product development.

Janine Richmond, The Point.1888
Not all popular kids’ books make the leap to licensing successfully. What does a book series need in order for it to be successful in consumer products?

In order to create a brand licensing programme with depth and longevity, the brand needs to have a number of characters that its audience care about and can relate to. It’s also important that the brand has purchaser trust and familiarity.

In children’s books, we have to remember that the consumer and purchaser are often different! To transfer children’s books to licensing, both consumer and purchaser need to know and trust the series. The way we shop has changed with fewer children accompanying their parents to shops so pester power is less prevalent than it was. We buy so much more online, so the series needs to be a household name to generate sales.

There’s new Tom Gates books on the way, and the TV show debuted earlier this year. How does this ongoing flow of content help shape your approach to building this licensing programme?
We have ambitious long term growth plans for the licensing programme, we’re The Point.1888 after all! And knowing there’s such a dedicated team at Tom Gates with huge activations planned across TV, publishing and marketing will hugely support our plans.

The ongoing creation of new content ensures product ranges remain relevant and should continually fuel ideas for new product categories.

Janine, this has been fun. Last question: how do you fuel your creativity?
With a fast growing retail division and our pioneering retail-led brand licensing approach whereby new products are created based on the gaps we see at retail – as well as what the brand’s target demographic would like – it’s fair to say that a significant proportion of our inspiration comes from retail insight.

Add to that the fact that our team come from all walks of life across marketing, advertising, licensing, retail buying and you have some powerful minds at play to brainstorm ideas and offer different perspectives.

With Tom Gates in particular, the vast amount of UGC available has been incredibly helpful. It’s so impressive to see how engaged and talented fans are with their fantastic creations, such as cakes and even wall décor.

Finally, it would be wrong not to give some credit to my two mini assistants at home. They are massive fans of Tom Gates and never fail to give brutally honest feedback.

Ha! Well they’ll be pleased with a shout-out. Thanks again for this Janine – good luck with the programme moving forward!

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