Vice President of Brand Management at Beanstalk, Linda Morgenstern, on expanding the Jacuzzi brand

Beanstalk’s Linda Morgenstern discusses why now is the right time to license Jacuzzi

Linda Morgenstern, you’re Vice President of Brand Management at Beanstalk… And have been for the past 11 years, 11 months! What keeps you there?
My career mantra for over 30 years has been to learn something new every day. Beanstalk is the ideal agency to help me keep that promise. We have a diverse, multi-talented team headed by inspiring leadership – and clients who are #1 in their industries – a recipe for success!

Good answer, thank you! And how did you come to be working in the industry in the first place?
I followed a circuitous path over the past 30 years, but the thread that ran through it was matchmaking – essentially licensing in its various forms. At first, I was an audiobook producer at Random House, licensing rights to books, casting and directing celebrity narrators.

Oh, wow. Interesting…
Then on to start up Sony Wonder, the family entertainment division at Sony Music, where I acquired rights and produced music and video with Sony Music artists. When I moved to Florida, I consulted with Licensing Hall of Famer Nancy Bailey, who broadened my scope beyond entertainment licensing into brand licensing. That led to starting a licensing division for Jarden where I managed eight brands, among them Coleman, Sunbeam, and Mr. Coffee. Then I boomeranged back to Nancy at a fortuitous time since her agency was acquired by Beanstalk in 2011 – and I was appointed to lead the Beanstalk Miami office.

Linda Morgenstern, Beanstalk, Jacuzzi
Strewth! Great experiences. And what are your day-to-day responsibilities now?

I oversee a team of talented execs as well as all activities around our business unit’s current portfolio of clients: Jacuzzi Group, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Shell, Pennzoil and Quaker State. This includes developing the licensing strategy for clients, identifying prospective licensees, negotiating deal terms and license agreements, approving products and marketing. In my leadership role, I also have responsibility for some of Beanstalk’s corporate initiatives such as leading our Sustainability Team and assisting in business development for our auditing service.

One of the projects that came to my attention recently is a new signing… Beanstalk’s been asked to help extend the Jacuzzi® brand…
Yes! We’re honoured Jacuzzi Group has chosen us to kick off their brand licensing initiative. They’ve been the leader in home spas, bath products, and hot tubs for over 50 years and are the most recognised brand in the space. They’re a global brand with significant presence in Europe. Over 25% of their business is outside of North America.

Into what product categories are they looking to move?
The most natural products to extend into are those that support Jacuzzi’s equity in bath, massage and outdoor. These products help consumers to revitalise and de-stress. We segment the products into three pillars: Engage the Senses, Nurture the Body, and Restore the Mind. We’ll start with massage products, footbaths, and spa products, followed by enhancing the bathroom.

Linda Morgenstern, Beanstalk, Jacuzzi
Enhancing the bathroom?
Consumers know Jacuzzi as a leader in bathroom refitting, so we’ll target steam rooms, vanity faucets, toilets and lighting. We’re also seeking partners in home comfort products such as air and water filtration. Broadening our vision, it’s natural to expand the Jacuzzi® brand to embrace the outdoor space where they already lead in hot tubs – so it’s intuitive to extend into anything relating to the pool, including pools themselves – or to create an oasis of your backyard. The backyard as an extension of the home is a continuing trend post-pandemic.

And why else, in your opinion, is now the right time for this?
Consumers, more than ever, are seeking tools to assist their journey toward physical and mental well- being. That’s substantiated by McKinsey’s study of the wellness market that quantifies it as $1.7 trillion globally. Jacuzzi Group has evolved along with this trend, providing home spa and hot-tub experiences that are transformative. Jacuzzi encourages us all to embrace mindfulness and integrate into our lives the art of doing nothing.

The art of doing nothing! Love that! Jacuzzi is an incredibly recognisable and well-established brand name, Linda…
You’re right, their brand recognition is so high that their brand has become the very definition of hydromassage!

Right – like Hoover and Google! They define the market they dominate… That being the case, how do you go about setting up new deals? What’s your process?
We prioritise the categories Jacuzzi chooses to enter, and then use a variety of methods to find the perfect partners. We do extensive research, tap into our voluminous contact database, check retail store shelves, and attend various industry trade shows. Often, the perfect partner is one that has a strong presence in its industry and has need of a premium brand offering to round out its portfolio, enter a new channel or present a fresh face to retailers and consumers.

Linda Morgenstern, Beanstalk, Jacuzzi
How important is creativity in what you do, Linda? And how important is organisation?!
Creativity is key! As part of our process, we really seek to understand the brand and its equities, and then brainstorm categories – opening the blinders and asking, “Why not?” Then we funnel down the list into those ideas that are on strategy and consistent with the brand’s vision for licensing. That’s how we ensure that all licensed products are authentic extensions of the brand.

Nowadays you see a lot of “collabs” where the famous “X” marries two top-notch brands… Together, they refresh their respective brands and create a new blended brand equity that’s disruptive in the marketplace and excites consumers. And yes, in terms of organisation, it’s important to keep track of outreach and discussions, history, contract parameters, distribution channels and contacts.

Fantastic. Thank you for your time, Linda. We do need to wrap this up, before we go… What’s the one question I could’ve asked you today but didn’t?
Is it fun and is it profitable?

And IS it fun?
It is – usually – lots of fun, since we’re always learning about a new industry, product, brand, or trend. Some brands are naturally more fun than others – and Jacuzzi is definitely one of the fun ones!

And is it profitable?
Yes, licensing generates meaningful and consistent revenue to the brand owner/licensor, and increased scale and sales for the licensee. And of course, the agency shares in the success of the program… At Beanstalk, we think of the goal of licensing as not simply to sell products, but to further engage a brand with the consumer – to deliver the brand message and offer them new ways to experience the brand and invite it into their lives.

Agreed. Linda, thank you very much for your time – what a pleasure to hear more about you.

Linda Morgenstern, Beanstalk, Jacuzzi

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