Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes brand is harnessing its ‘take action’ message to extend its licensed and direct-to-retail food and beverage program around the globe.
The time-honored Looney Tunes property is showing no signs of slowing down. With multiple generations and decades of brand affinity, Warner Bros. Consumer Products is leveraging the global appeal of Bugs Bunny, Daffy, Tweety, Sylvester and Taz to market a massive, comprehensive licensing program to the global marketplace and is finding continued success in the food and beverage aisle.
"The overall success of our global Looney Tunes food licensing program can be credited to the unique combination of universal character recognition, the ability of the Looney Tunes brand to appeal to boys and girls and the 'get active' message, which resonates globally," says Jordan Sollitto, executive vice president, international licensing, WBCP. "Because the Looney Tunes characters are active by nature, they are the perfect ambassadors to encourage kids and families to embrace active lifestyle habits, without lecturing them."
Rooted in a message of "take action" and "get active," WBCP has hit its stride across multiple categories licensed under the various brands that support the property, including Looney Tunes Active!, The Looney Tunes Show and Looney Tunes, but perhaps none so more as in the food and beverage category. With more than 250 category SKUs in supermarkets all around the world, sales are exceeding 2 billion units within EMEA alone.
"Several years ago, the EMEA region set about to refresh the brand by bringing forward one of the core attributes of the Looney Tunes–in addition to being fun, irreverent and appealing to both genders, the characters are also active by nature," says Pilar Zulueta, executive vice president and general manager, WBCP EMEA. "With this in mind, we decided that we could contribute to the promotion of a more active lifestyle message for kids, and the level of acceptance by both licensees and consumers was overwhelming."
WBCP has put in place a 360-degree strategy to support its more than 1,000 licensees worldwide that relies on the development of great product, constant partner engagement, all-new content, local live events, above- and below-the-line marketing and promotions and a strong sense of creativity.
According to Bruno Schwobthaler, senior vice president, sales and business development, WBCP EMEA, the EMEA is the leading region for the Looney Tunes licensing program, with food and beverage the No. 2 category for the brand behind apparel. Consumer product deals in the food and beverage category are executed through both the traditional licensing model and through direct-to-retail partnerships with the EMEA region's leading retailers.
"Since many international retailers–hypermarkets and fashion specialists–originate in EMEA, direct-to-retail partnerships have been important growth drivers and will continue to be," says Schwobthaler. "Our revenues have evolved over the years from being mainly driven by short-term promotional deals to now being fueled by strategic partnerships on branded food."
The retailer picture for the Looney Tunes brand in the region is vast, with impressive numbers such as 70 million (the number of SKUs on shelf at France's Système U stores), 156 million (the number of units of Looney Tunes Active! private label brand products sold to date at Système U), 10 million (the number of Looney Tunes branded cereal products sold in Germany's Aldi Süd stores) and 1.52 billion (the number of Looney Tunes Active! Nestlé water bottles sold since 2001) on the books, according to WBCP.
France's fourth largest grocery retailer, Système U, which has more than 2,000 retail outlets around the country, is seeing significant growth in overall sales and volume where Looney Tunes Active! products are featured. It has more than 70 products on shelf including biscuits, yogurt, cereal, fruit juice, frozen food, fruits and vegetables and the occasional ice cream and confection.
Nestlé Waters is also a huge seller for the Looney Tunes brand. Noted as the No. 1 bottled water company in the world, the Looney Tunes Active! brand carries through to product in EMEA and Asia, and Looney Tunes Vibra and Looney Tunes Show branded water in South America. The product is available in 15 countries on five continents and continues to grow around the world, where, according to Schwobthaler, it is gaining momentum in countries such as Mexico and Saudi Arabia.
Another steady retailer for the brand is Italy's No. 1 food retailer, Coop. The retailer, which has more than 1,446 points of sale, has SKUs across multiple food and beverage categories including breakfast, snacks, pasta and frozen foods.
To further engage shoppers, Coop uses a comprehensive 360-degree strategy to promote their Looney Tunes private label brand, says WBCP, that includes a wide range of products, the availability of detailed nutritional information, marketing and promotions, a dedicated website geared toward children, product placement, character appearances at sponsored events and product sampling activations. The result, according to WBCP, is more than 9 million Looney Tunes Active! units sold at Coop to date.
Other promising retailers for the brand include Aldi and Turkey's Ülker. Ülker's Smartt line, which is targeted to children ages 3 to 8, features Looney Tunes and is positioned as its premier product range. The original deal was struck for dairy products, and has expanded to include biscuits and confections.
As an active platform might suggest, live events and organized sponsorships are also an effective way for WBCP to communicate its message.
"Maintaining an active lifestyle is a message that Looney Tunes can deliver with legitimacy to kids and parents, boys and girls," says Schwobthaler. "Sports federations and athletic associations have responded favorably to the 'take action' opportunity and we have partnered successfully with several of them across multiple markets, with additional deals currently in preparation."
WBCP's sports partnerships have included Lega Basket in Italy and basketball federations from the U.K., Germany (Beko Basketball Bundesliga), Spain (FEB, Men's World and European Champions) and France (Women's European Champions) to encourage kids to be and stay active.
Moving forward, the Looney Tunes food and beverage program is only expected to gain momentum, says WBCP. With partners on board that tailor product appeal across multiple consumer groups, Looney Tunes is reaching kids and parents who are attracted to the vibrant heritage characters, and then continue to express brand loyalty to the ranges.
"The Looney Tunes Active! licensing program has already translated into other regions because the 'get active' message is a global one, and the awareness, popularity and core attributes of Looney Tunes are the same worldwide," says Schwobthaler.