Ford India treads the merchandising road through brand licensing

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | October 06, 2009
Apart from India, Ford plans to take its brand licensing programme this year to China and Latin America too

Ford has decided to take up a secondary route for revenue in India -- merchandising. The company now plans to sell commodities across various categories with its trademarks.

For this purpose, The Beanstalk Group, Omnicom Group's brand licensing and consultancy -- which handles Ford's brand licensing globally -- has tied up with License India, an Indian licensing solution provider, in a strategic and commercial representation agreement.

& #BANNER1 & #Ford runs a global brand licensing programme, an initiative taken up in the US. License India would be extending a number of Ford brands -- including the iconic Ford blue oval, Mustang and Build Ford Tough marks -- to merchandise in a wide range of product categories, including clothing, headwear, toys, home-ware and decorative vehicle accessories.

Talking to afaqs!, Gaurav Marya, president, License India, reveals that with Ford, corporate brand licensing is being seriously considered for the first time ever. Corporate licensing is about Rs 500 crore in India. Until now, this area is dominated by character licensing, such as Chacha Chowdhury or Felix The Cat; or sports licensing, for example, Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh lending himself for Harbhajan Da Dhaaba. "Character licensing still is a major chunk, and forms about 70 per cent of all the licensing that takes place as of now," states Marya.

Film licensing, he adds, is also an area of growing interest in India. One can recollect the girl-boy characters of the movie, Hum Tum. However, Indian films have still to leverage film licensing the way Hollywood does, with merchandise for properties such as Spiderman, Batman or Harry Potter hitting the shelves much before the movie hits screens; and thus, fuelling excitement for the movie at the time of release.

With the emergence of organized retail in India -- estimated at close to US$ 30 billion out of a total market size of over US$ 300 billion, and projected to grow at 40 per cent per annum -- Marya feels that the retail industry has set the pace for new collaborations between international licensing companies and Indian business houses.

As per Mark Bentley, manager, Ford Global Brand Licensing, "Ford's global licensing programme has already witnessed major success in markets, including the USA, Europe and Australia. Given the phenomenal popularity of Ford and Mustang merchandise globally, we expect to replicate this trend in India. Rising disposable incomes in India have fuelled a consumption boom, presenting a lucrative opportunity for international brands like Ford. This considered, Ford Motor Company has expanded into India, in partnership with The Beanstalk Group and License India, to unlock the limitless potential of the Indian market."

The Ford licensing programme generated over $1.5 billion in retail sales in 2008 with over 350 licensees in the program, reveals Bentley. "It continues to expand the 'lifestyle' focus of the brand and its vehicles," he adds.

Apart from India, Ford is taking its licensing programme this year to China and Latin America as well.

Among others, License India has Pepsi and Santa Barbara Polo as its clients, as well as characters such as Chacha Chowdhury and Felix The Cat. The company also looks after sports licensing for Harbhajan Singh and others.

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