A New Leverage

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It may seem that the pairing of Leveraged Marketing Corporation of America President Allan Feldman and former Spencer Gifts Vice President of Licensing and Product Development Beth Schlansky is an odd couple. Yet, after License! spent some time with the two licensing industry veterans, the word "odd" easily can be eliminated. Putting aside the fact that Feldman's agency business mantra is not trend or fad driven, and Schlansky's business was, for the most part, trend and fad driven, what you learn is that both are strategists, both think out of the box, both know the value of a brand's equity, and both know that performance is measured by the end-user.

Only three weeks (at press time) into her newly created position as chief operating officer, Schlansky is already on the same strategic brand extension page with Feldman. She speaks of LMCA's current clients' extensions as if she's been at the company since Feldman created LMCA 20 years ago. It might be said that Feldman applied the same qualities in looking for a COO as he does in choosing the brands LMCA represents: equity, imagery, well recognized and respected. "I've been looking for someone like Beth for a number of years. She brings wonderful experience in licensing, retail, product development, and marketing. She's a great manager, she's organized, has great energy, and a great track record," says Feldman, adding that LMCA has experienced double- digit increases over the last couple of years. LMCA has offices in New York, California, and St. Louis, MO, and there are plans to open an office overseas, considering LMCA already works with licensees outside the U.S., including countries in Europe and Asia, but there still exist countries eager to embrace brands. Schlansky overwhelmingly believes she's made the right career change. A retail licensing pioneer, Schlansky explains that brand licensing piqued her interest, and when "brand business is properly executed, it's a tremendous opportunity."

Indeed, LMCA has executed many new opportunities for its current roster of clients, including Arm & Hammer, Black Flag, Eastman Kodak, Frigidaire, Mack Trucks, Melitta, Mensa the High IQ Society, Motorola, Mott's, Ralston Purina, Red Wing Shoes, Roto-Rooter, Scotchguard/3M, Smith & Wesson, United Airlines, Westinghouse, and Winchester. And LMCA does so in a unique research-oriented manner. Prior to retaining Mensa the High IQ Society as a client, LMCA always conducted focus groups and brainstorming meetings with the LMCA team and those outside the LMCA team. But now, the relationship with Mensa has brought forth the Mensa Process, an exclusive arrangement in which LMCA can call upon the "society of geniuses" for think tank discussions related to the brands LMCA represents. For Winchester, for example, nearly 800 ideas to extend the brand were put on the table. Although that number was narrowed down, the Mensa Process and creative thinking on the part of the LMCA team allows for valuable research utilizing real people, who are ultimately the end-users. The process has allowed for creative extensions: Winchester was taken beyond bullets to a relationship with Ralston-Purina for dog food for hunting dogs; Arm & Hammer was extended to air filtration, incorporating Arm & Hammer's deodorization, for heating and air conditioning systems; and Kodak was extended into medical optics, producing scratch-resistant progressive lenses. These are just some of the brand extensions that "add value to the brand. We are successful with a brand's management that is interested in taking advantage of licensing as a strategic tool," says Feldman. Now with Schlansky on board, LMCA has another strategic tool in its belt.

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