When you think about the Warner Bros.-created Looney Tunes gang, constantly outrunning and outwitting one another, it’s a wonder where they get all of that vigor. Bugs Bunny has his carrots, of course, accounting for the 100 percent perfect vision that rabbits enjoy, but what about all of that energy? And then there’s Wile E. Coyote and his calculated attempts to catch the Road Runner – neither anvils nor fatigue can stop his endless hunt. WBCP, too, is on the prowl and chasing new business entrees offering food strategies inspired by one of the most beloved brands in their arsenal.
High-energy, speed and dynamism are characteristics that have defined the Looney Tunes brand for many generations, giving it the credibility to promote the “get active” message the brand has been spreading across food and beverage aisles. In fact, the Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) licensing program with EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) partners has been wildly successful.
“The Looney Tunes brand is truly an international icon,” says Pilar Zulueta, executive vice president and general manager of WBCP EMEA. “We have been thrilled to see how Looney Tunes food products have resonated with customers across the EMEA region and around the world with its ability to appeal to both boys and girls in addition to their parents.”
WBCP’s prediction was spot-on. From the Looney Tunes’ inception during America’s golden age of animation through to today’s modern-day take with The Looney Tunes Show, the brand has resonated strongly abroad. In just five years, the Looney Tunes licensed food and beverage program in the EMEA region has sold two billion licensed products with more than 250 SKUs licensed under the Looney Tunes Active!, The Looney Tunes Show and Looney Tunes banners. With more than 1,000 licensees worldwide across diverse categories, it proves that the Looney Tunes’ characters are global icons.
“The Looney Tunes characters are active by nature and therefore perfect ambassadors to encourage kids and families to adopt better-for-you lifestyle habits without lecturing to them,” explains Bruno Schwobthaler, senior vice president, sales and business development for WBCP EMEA. “Just as Bugs Bunny’s antics keep him in motion, we want to energize children to lead active lifestyles.”
The immediate connection between consumers and the Looney Tunes brand is of course major incentive for licensees and retailers to get on board with the new program. WBCP credits the resonance among so many consumers to a “rare combination of universal character awareness, the ability of the Looney Tunes brand to appeal to multiple generations, and the relevance of the ‘get active’ message.”
WBCP builds on those factors with a comprehensive strategy to support licensing partners. WBCP and its partners collaborate closely to develop standout products. With new content by way of Looney Tunes programming and home entertainment produced by the studio, the retail programs and product releases are reinforced by ongoing, new content developed by retailers and partners, and Looney Tunes Active!-themed websites with games and activities geared toward children to promote an active lifestyle.
WBCP’s licensing partners get in on the action, as well. Creating local live events in partnership with licensees and multiple sports federations and leagues strengthens the programs’ “get active” platform.
The meticulous product planning – which spans categories such as bottled water, snack foods, frozen foods and cereals – coupled with a strong brand identity has led to success on the retail floor. Strong buy-in from product manufacturers such as Nestlé Waters and retailers such as France’s Système U, Italy’s Coop, Germany’s Aldi Süd and Ülker in Turkey has led to a program that “has wildly exceeded our original expectations and become a true success story in international licensing,” Schwobthaler says.
Nestlé Waters, the No. 1 bottled water company in the world, has managed to sell 1.52 billion 100 percent-recyclable bottles of Looney Tunes Active! mineral water – enough water to fill 150 Olympic-sized swimming pools. That number includes products sold not only in the EMEA region, but in 15 countries across five continents.
In France, Système U, whose vast network of more than 2,013 retail outlets across France makes it Europe’s third-largest supermarket chain, carries more than 70 SKUs, including biscuits, yogurt, cereal, fruit juice, frozen food, produce, and ice cream and confections.
The company notes that has sold more than 156 million units of Looney Tunes Active! private-label brand products to date. Système U supports the retail program at home with its consumer-facing website which features a microsite geared toward children. The site showcases Looney Tunes games such as skiing and surfing and an augmented reality program that links directly to products in stores.
In Italy, WBCP has partnered with another market leader. Coop is Italy’s No. 1 food retailer with a more than 18 percent market-share. It initially launched 23 Looney Tunes private-label brand products and has since expanded to 50 with plans to further increase that number. The retailer’s strategy to promote the private-label brand includes offering a wide variety of products, distributing consumer catalogs with nutrition information and diet guidelines, maintaining a dedicated microsite for kids, optimum product placement, product sampling and character meet-and-greets at events. The efforts have resulted in nine million units of Looney Tunes Active! products sold to date this year.
Aldi Süd in Germany has had similar success. The store’s private-label Looney Tunes-branded cereal products have sold 10 million units to date this year. Ülker, which is Turkey’s largest food conglomerate, is featuring Looney Tunes characters as part of its Smartt line, which targets kids ages three to eight with a better-for-you and fun brand image. Ülker’s initial deal with WBCP was targeted to dairy products and has since expanded into other categories.
Ülker’s sponsorship of large school year-end events such as Bugs on Ice, Bugs Bunny & Friends, and Circus with Bugs Bunny and Friends ensures an effective consumer reach for the brand.
“What started as a relatively modest initiative has turned into a huge success story and the Looney Tunes are now at the top of their game, spreading the ‘get active’ message in food aisles all over EMEA,” Schwobthaler says. “We are very proud that our brands are playing a role in contributing to the promotion of a more active lifestyle for kids and families.
“The increasing interest we are receiving from food partners and grocery retailers is a sign that our brands are perfect for the direct-to-retail environment and traditional licensing partnerships alike, and will have an even bigger role to play in the coming years.”