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The Influencers

From E.T. to Oscar: The Top 10 Licensed IP Campaigns of 2019

INFLUENCER: Born Licensing's David Born on the best ways advertisers leveraged entertainment IP in one way or another

From E.T. to Oscar: The Top 10 Licensed IP Campaigns of 2019

2019 was another strong year for creativity in advertising. At Born Licensing we always have our eyes peeled for ways advertising agencies and advertisers are licensing IP in their work. 

We know that licensing well-known characters and clips can add value to a campaign by tapping into existing emotions, harnessing strong awareness and targeting specific demographics. It's not easy to capture the attention of today's busy and distracted consumer. By leveraging popular IP and recognisable characters advertisers are able to cut through the clutter, resulting in many wanting to see and share the advertisements rather than trying to avoid them.

Towards the end of each year the Born Licensing team like to take a look back and countdown the best ways advertisers leveraged entertainment IP in one way or another.

Here's our top 10 for 2019:

10. Iceland Celebrates Christmas with Frozen 2

To help celebrate the release of Frozen 2, UK supermarket Iceland partnered with Disney for their Christmas ad. We love how they’ve incorporated custom animation with the Frozen characters into a fun festive game of charades. The film has already proven to be a huge hit! 

Brand: Iceland

Market: UK

Agency: In house

Property: Frozen 2


9. British Airways Recruits Winnie the Pooh for Centennial Love Letter

This star-studded spot rolled out as a love letter to Britain for British Airways’ centennial anniversary. Featuring familiar faces such as Oscar winning actress Olivia Colman, Gary Oldman and anthropologist Jane Goodall, iconic British bear Winnie the Pooh also features throughout the spot.

Born Licensing managed the licensing of Winnie the Pooh on behalf of British Airways and Ogilvy London.

Brand: British Airways

Market: UK

Agency: Ogilvy London

Property: Winnie the Pooh

8. KFC Introduces RoboCop and Rudy as the new Colonel

KFC and Wieden + Kennedy Portland have been delivering some brilliant campaigns around the theme of famous celebrities and characters playing the new KFC Colonel. Billy Zane, Shawn Michaels, Rob Lowe, Ray Liotta, Reba McEntire and Jason Alexander have each portrayed the Colonel at some point. This year, a switch was made to characters which resulted in RoboCop being the new Colone, followed by Rudy. We loved this and hope to see more characters incorporated in future spots!

Brand: KFC

Market: US

Agency: Wieden+Kennedy Portland

Property: RoboCop / Rudy


7. Facebook Portal Launch Stars Characters from The Muppets

We recently worked on a spot with The Muppets for Barclaycard in the UK, so we can appreciate the work that goes into these campaigns. With so many loved characters The Muppets are great demonstrators of Facebook’s video calling product Portal. I’m particularly happy to see Kermit and Miss Piggy reconnecting, perhaps a rekindling is in the air?

Brand: Facebook Portal

Market: Multiple markets

Agency: Anomaly LA

Property: The Muppets


6. Tesco Announces New Clubcard with Casablanca Overdubbing

UK retailer Tesco have been tapping into a range of different IP this year to help celebrate ‘100 years of great value’. Classic clay character Morph, Wolf from Gladiators and Mr. Blobby all made an appearance in Tesco ads this year. In November they launched a clever campaign which licensed one of the most iconic cinematic scenes in history from Casablanca. They overdubbed the scene to tie in offer details around the new Tesco club card.

Born Licensing managed the licensing of Casablanca along with clearances relating to the Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains estates.

Brand: Tesco

Market: UK

Agency: BBH London

Property: Casablanca 

5. Google Home Reimagines Home Alone 

This one actually launched in very late 2018 but it was too good to not include on this list. Home Alone is a Christmas favourite of mine and it was incredible to see Macaulay Culkin reprise his role as Kevin. This one went viral, trending across social media and news outlets and tallying up millions of views.

Brand: Google Home

Market: US

Agency: Arts & Letters

Property: Home Alone 

4. Geico Taps Casper the Friendly Ghost for Halloween

Geico have aired some great campaigns starring well known characters such as Rocky and Bullwinkle, Dora the Explorer and Looney Tunes. This year one of their Halloween spots featured Casper the Friendly Ghost from the popular 1995 film Casper.

Brand: Geico

Market: US

Agency: The Martin Agency

Property: Casper


3. Squarespace Creates a New Art Sensation: Oscar the Grouch

I’ve always had a soft spot for Sesame Street, having grown up with the characters and then working with them in a previous role. This is such a great concept and is so well done. After seeing Cookie Monster starring in spots for Apple and BWM it’s fun to see Oscar the Grounch take centre stage in this fun spot.

Brand: Squarespace

Market: US

Agency: In house

Property: Sesame Street


2. Comcast Reunites ET and Eliot after 37 Years

This was another campaign that went viral. Heralded as ‘not a Christmas ad, but a sequel’, this spot reunites ET with Elliot 37 years after the first movie hit cinemas. The spot was developed for Comcast owned Xfinity and Sky and licenses the character ET, owned by Comcast’s Universal Studios. 

Brand: Xfinity/Comcast/SKY

Market: US and UK

Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Property: ET


1. Walmart Brilliantly Taps Famous Cars

All of the campaigns here are brilliant, but I couldn’t give the #1 spot to anyone else. I love nothing more than to see different IP and characters come together in an advertising campaign. There are no less than 13 famous and iconic cars featured here, from the iconic Batmobile to the recent iteration of the Bumblebee VW Beetle. The Scooby-Doo van and Jurassic Park Jeep are other favourites that are instantly recognisable. We also appreciate the work that would have gone into working through at least 13 IP clearances . . !

Brand: Walmart

Market: US

Agency: Publicis

Property: Batman, Ghostbusters, Knight Rider, Cars, Dumb and Dumber, Scooby-Doo, Vacation, Mad Max, Jurassic Park, Cinderella, The Flintstones, Bumblebee and Back to the Future


Special mentions:

1. Just Eat Spot Stars Stewie Griffin from Family Guy

This was a big campaign and I like how they leveraged Family Guy to elevate the other filmed material in the spot.

Born Licensing managed the licensing of Family Guy for this campaign.

Brand: Just Eat

Market: UK

Agency: McCann London

Property: Family Guy


2. Blade Hits the Nostalgic Spot with The Jetsons

This spot shows how simply licensing a clip can add so much to a story. Here we see a young boy watching classic Hanna Barbera show The Jetsons, imagining the possibilities of space travel. Cut to Liev Schreiber today boarding a helicopter – a dream come true! Some real nostalgia here.

Brand: Blade

Market: US

Property: The Jetsons


These examples prove that leveraging entertainment IP in advertising can be incredibly powerful. We look forward to seeing more of this in 2020!

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Category: Media and Entertainment , TV and Radio