Catching Up With...

Catching Up With Marc Todd

Lavish Group—a privately owned group of companies operating within the media, content creation, and marketing industries based in London—is undertaking a very ambitions rollout strategy for its Luv Me Buddies property. The 100-day plan, which kicked off on June 25, includes specific targets and milestones for the campaign, which will focus heavily on the Luv Me Buddies website, which is set to launch on July 21. The brand is designed for global appeal. Lavish Group’s CEO, Marc Todd, gives aNb Media the scoop on the Luv Me Buddies, the 100-day strategy, and more.

Chris Adams: How did the Luv Me Buddies come into existence?

Marc Todd: The Luv Me Buddies brand was inspired by a visit to Paris, actually. Our design director and I visited the latest Kazachok show in Paris in the spring and found it really interesting to see so many new Eastern properties featured. Despite finding the visual look of these brands to be graphically appealing and exciting, we found it difficult to differentiate between them, and surmised that if we were thinking this, then so would many Western consumers. That evening we sat down in a restaurant in Paris and decided to create a brand that would have the contemporary aesthetic of the Eastern brands, but with a more clearly defined sentiment, such as is used so successfully in many brands from the West.

C.A.: What was the inspiration behind the 100-day plan? What does this plan entail?

M.T.: Well, our sister company, Lavish Productions, creates brand strategies and marketing plans for many large global companies, and so we thought we’d turn the tables on the normal perception in licensing that in order for a property to be a viable licensing proposition it needs to have a TV or feature film presence. The rapid and continuing emergence of the internet has created a dynamic and engaging platform for brands to rapidly gain awareness and a subsequent following. So for Luv Me Buddies, the internet is the perfect platform to cleverly target our core demographic, which is girls.

So, the plan has been developed using exactly the same mindset we apply for our clients’ brands, which is creating a unique and targeted marketing campaign with set timelines and fixed business objectives. We are launching the brand from scratch in 100 days, which is unique in the licensing industry, where launch, development, and response take longer.

We have allocated extensive resources to achieve specific target and milestones over the 100-day launch campaign, including a unique website, which is the main focus, and whose content will basically double every 25 days during the plan. For instance, the Luv Me Buddies site will be translated into the languages of the territories where we are represented (we’ve signed in more than 30 countries already), with games and lots of free downloadable content, and all with a very strong viral quality to it.

C.A.: What strengths does the global launch strategy offer?

M.T.: Although we’re going to launch globally, that doesn’t mean that one strategy will be universally applied. We are working creatively with our partners in each territory to ensure that the strategy for launch and marketing of Luv Me Buddies is designed specifically for their region. By having territory-focused strategies at launch, it will overcome any problems of brand integration at a later date.

We also expect to gain unique insights from certain regions that will create real points of difference for the Luv Me Buddies in each territory while maintaining the cohesive collectibility and feel of the brand.

We have also developed a range of innovative digital assets to streamline issues such as asset delivery and approvals for our licensees. The licensees can not only browse and select images to use, but can also experiment online with different color combinations, messages, and layouts.

C.A.: Can you discuss the consumer research you conducted and what tweaks were made to strengthen the global appeal of the property?

M.T.: We conducted our research among approximately 500 girls aged 10–16, and mainly based in the Far East, or of Asian ethnicity. Consumers in this region have a strong affinity for brands such as Luv Me Buddies. The insights we were able to gain proved vital in helping us develop what we consider to be a breakthrough crossover property. We then also took it to girls in the West who helped refine the brand further, so we have a perfect fusion of East meets West with Luv Me Buddies.

They also told us the things they loved (and didn’t love) about the designs and the characters over the course of the development, as well as the things that they as consumers wanted to see as part of the brand proposition, including collectibility, personalization, and sentiment.