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How to Get Your Favourite Cartoon Character to Feature in Your Next Campaign

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Born Licensing’s guide to custom animation

How to Get Your Favourite Cartoon Character to Feature in Your Next Campaign

Let’s face it, most people don’t like advertisements. Whether it’s skipping ads or paying more to dodge ads altogether, consumers are doing what they can to avoid them. What people want is to be entertained. 

In our experience, the key to getting people to actively want to watch a commercial, even to share it with friends and family, is through leveraging the popularity of famous fictional characters and putting them in unexpected situations. Custom animation provides entertainment-hungry audiences with fresh content that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to see. 

One of our favourite recent examples is last year’s Balenciaga collaboration with The Simpsons. An amazing 10-minute mini-episode made entirely from bespoke animation was created for Fashion Paris Week. It was a huge hit with everyone from Vogue to The New York Times covering the story. It currently has over 10 million views and counting on Balenciaga’s YouTube channel. As well as capturing the attention of consumers, advertisers have the potential to unlock new audiences who might not have otherwise engaged with the brand.

Another favourite of ours is Pringles’ 2020 spot for Super Bowl LIV starring Rick and Morty. Created by Grey Group and Adult Swim, the 30-second spot stood out in an extremely competitive Super Bowl line up. Leveraging the popularity of hit shows such as Rick and Morty gives advertisers the chance to present themselves as part of pop culture as well as tapping into an already dedicated fanbase. 


Call us biased but our absolute favourite campaign to use custom animation in advertising is for US financial services company, Envestnet, starring Mr. Krabs from SpongeBob SquarePants. Created by Boston-based agency, HeyLetsGo, the campaign sees money-obsessed Mr. Krabs on a video call with a bemused financial advisor trying to make sense of Mr. Krabs’ complex finances and assets including the Krustry Krab, the most popular restaurant in Bikini Bottom!

Fans will be delighted to see SpongeBob SquarePants, Patrick Starfish, Squidward, and Plankton all make cameo appearances. As Paramount’s licensing agent for advertising and marketing, Born Licensing managed the licensing process for HeyLetsGo and Envestnet from start to finish without charging them any clearance fees. 

Navigating the licensing process can be a bit of a minefield so we’ve shared answers to some of the most frequently asked questions as it relates to creating custom animation with famous animation characters for advertising campaigns. 


Which cartoon characters can I work with?

You might be surprised to hear that most studios and rights holders are usually open to lending their characters and IP out to advertising campaigns providing the creative is authentic and the commercial terms are agreeable. The Rights Holder will also want to ensure that the advertiser shares the same values and that the timing is suitable and doesn’t clash with other activities or objectives. Some characters have more parameters and sensitives than others. Born Licensing can provide ad agencies with free guidance and advice on which characters might be most feasible and which might be the most challenging. 


How much does it cost? 

This is naturally the most common question! License fees can vary a lot and depends on many different factors including…

• Term - how long will the campaign be live?

• Territory – i.e., global or one market only?

• Media - what platforms and channels will the campaign be shown on? Typically, TV broadcast will require a larger license fee. 

• Material - how many assets will there be within the campaign? I.e., 1 x 60’ spot plus cutdowns, 5 x OOH designs, 7 x social posts etc.

• How the IP will be used

• The Rights Holder (some have higher expectations when it comes to fees than others)

• The IP (some IP is in higher demand than others and therefore comes with a higher price tag)

Other factors to consider is the cost of the animation itself. The license fee does not cover any production elements and so the cost to develop the actual animation will be a different conversation. Similarly, you will also need to clear any voice talent separately as well. Some Rights Holders may allow you to use a sound-alike if the original voice talent is not feasible or available. 


Can you use your own animation studio?

This depends on the IP. Whilst some Rights Holders will only allow you to work with their own animation studio, some Rights Holders may allow you to work with a third party providing they can match the same quality and capabilities of their own studio. Either way, a resource heavy approval process is needed to ensure the Rights Holders are comfortable with how the animation is developing. When you’re dealing with loved characters authenticity is crucial especially if you want to get the super fans on side! 


Got an idea you want to run by us? Give us a shout! Born Licensing are experts in licensing entertainment IP for advertising and we offer free guidance and advice within 24 hours, always!

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Born Licensing, Thu, 11 Aug 2022 08:08:17 GMT