Interview with Richard Pink

His agency Pink Key Licensing is the generator of the European licensing success of Kellogg’s and Pringles, but also of other food icons like Slush Puppie, The Laughing Cow or Coleman’s. As the man behind the strategy which turned a food brand like Kellogg’s into an icon, Richard Pink gives us in this interview his personal point of view about lifestyle branding, pop art, logomania, and many other of the trends we spot in our licensed collaborations scene.

Brand Jam: according to our observatory, food brands have become a staple both in the basic apparel and in the streetwear / fashion upmarket collaborations. What is your point on that?

Richard Pink: It’s very true, we have heard that retailers are ‘looking for food brands’ a number of times since we’ve started building our portfolio. But I think it’s probably simplifying things slightly, although our brands obviously work because they are food, a number of them work on other levels too. Kellogg’s particularly works as a logo, and was on trend a couple years ago similar to the way the Levi’s logo was. The characters such as Tony the Tiger also get picked up as part or character and vintage trends. I think the reason it never seems to go away is because it works in so many ways. The breadth and depth of art means that there is always something you can find in the archive that will hit the mark for a relevant trend. In the last couple of years I think people have looked to the things that bring them comfort, whether it’s something they like to enjoy, or a memory they have, and I think that is set to remain important for some time to come.

B.J.: We follow Kellogg’s with passion since Anya Hindmarch x Kellogg’s. How much this helped the irresistible ascent of Kellogg’s brand? We are sure you have many other powerful cases to tell us…

R.P: I think what the Anya Hindmarch campaign demonstrated better than anything was how far the Kellogg brand and Tony the Tiger in particular could stretch. Its relatively easy to imagine the brand on a pair of pyjamas or a t-shirt in Zara for example, but seeing the brand on a €1500 handbag was not so obvious – what made it work was the art interpretation. The lovely thing was that the style that was used was then picked up by a number of other licensees – it demonstrated beautifully how flexible the art was and just how ‘cool’ it could be.

B.J.: Yet often Kellogg’s unlash its great evocative power through its logo. Do you think this power will stay, even when the apparel “logomania” should end?

R.P.: Completely – while the logo has been important in apparel particularly, the Kellogg brand works on many categories (such as housewares) where the logo has little importance and it’s all about the beautiful art or the characters. For a brand like Kellogg’s its less about the logo and more about the way the brand makes people feel – especially in the awful times we’ve been going through.

B.J.: An iconic logo and a more iconic yet set of characters like Tony the Tiger, is then enough to sustain all these cases?

R.P: I think it is! tI’s the versatility of the licensing program that gives it longevity – it’s a character licence, a food licence, a heritage licence , an art licence…. Being all these things is exactly what has helped it sustain itself and ride out trend after trend.

B.J. What do you see in the future of Kellogg’s brand extension? Any interest from other categories?

R.P: There is so much potential we have yet to discover with Kellogg’s, we have recently entered the collectables market, fashion is always re-inventing itself and areas such as food gifting has worked in the UK, but has not started in other territories – we still have plenty to do !!!!