First Impressions

Every once in a while, we shine a spotlight on recent deals involving products and categories that have rarely been a focus for licensing and may offer white space for licensors with relevant IP. Our first post of 2021 seems like a good time to take stock of some of the new and unusual licensed products that have come up since our last round-up:

  • Pimple patches. Sanrio paired with Starface for limited-edition Hello Kitty Hydro-Stars hydrocolloid pimple patches featuring the character’s face on a white background. The product is worn over acne spots throughout the day, protecting and healing while serving as a fashionable accessory. Pimple patches have been a hot teen beauty item on social media platforms such as TikTok of late. The sets of 32 Hello Kitty patches became available on Target.com starting on December 2 after debuting on Starface’s and Sanrio’s e-commerce sites.
  • Edible food paint. Noshi for Kids recently signed The World of Eric Carle for three flavors of organic edible food paint, following the company’s introduction of a Peppa Pig paint set. Food paint has had a growing presence in the culinary, baking, and crafts sectors, with chefs, influencers, and home cooks creating their own versions and a number of companies marketing commercial examples. One among a variety of potential uses for the product is to encourage picky preschoolers to eat their fruits and vegetables, and these two licenses are meant to assist in that effort. Separately, a Japanese licensee of the Gundam franchise, Sagamiya Foods, earlier this year added some realism to one of its shaped tofu products under the Beyond G Tofu brand, molded to look like the head of a Gundam mobile attack suit, by including a gold-colored, curry-based food paint.
  • Stiletto cream. CBD brand Lord Jones paired with luxury footwear label Tamara Mellon to introduce Lord Jones High CBD Formula Stiletto Cream. Lord Jones had discovered that celebrities and other consumers were using one of its existing CBD body lotions to reduce the pain of wearing high heels, leading it to formulate a product just for that purpose. The cream was introduced in 2019 and is still available through Tamara Mellon for $70.
  • Snowplows and spreaders. This past fall, snow and ice control equipment maker Meyer Products—billed as the inventor of the auto snowplow in 1926—introduced licensed snowplows and spreaders for Jeep and Ram trucks and SUVs, saying that it was the first company to pair this category with a license. (Other auto makers, including Ford and Chevrolet, offer branded snowplow packages as an option with some of their truck models.) Meyers’ licensed aftermarket products, which are targeted to homeowners, independent contractors, and fleet owners, are available at Ram and Jeep dealerships.
  • Companion robots. Technology company eMates is creating COVID-safe “humanoid companions” tied to the Dean Cain-starring independent sci-fi film 2050, which was released digitally in 2020 after a film festival debut in 2018 and a limited theatrical run in 2019. The movie is about a videogame designer and father who struggles to find intimacy with his wife and turns to sexbots. eMates’ products, which can converse with the owner (with greater realism over time) and be heated to human temperature, were initially created for lonely consumers who had lost their partners during military service and as a way to reduce sex trafficking in regions where military personnel are stationed. Thanks to the pandemic, the products are now positioned as COVID-safe physical and emotional companions for both healthy and immunocompromised consumers. This first partnership with a film, which starts with two character-based dolls, is meant to help reduce the stigma associated with the category. The company says it plans to expand the line to include more film characters as well as real-world celebrities.

Most of these categories are well-established in the consumer-product landscape or have been growing, both in terms of sales and awareness, for some time. But all remain relatively untapped, to date, when it comes to licensing. In at least some cases, other examples of licensed or collaborative partnerships seem sure to follow the deals mentioned here.

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