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Frito-Lay Pizza Hut Bacardi

From Dunkin’ PJs to Doritos’ sweaters: why brands are leaning on licensed products


By Kenneth Hein, US Editor

November 23, 2020 | 7 min read

Pull up your Sour Patch Kids socks and cuddle up under your Pizza Hut gravity blankets as we tell you about why marketers are looking to line extensions during this highly unusual holiday season.

Dunkin sells out.

Dunkin' totally sells out – in a good way, with its new licensed branded clothing range

As many enter the holiday season under lockdown, brands are eager to find new ways to connect, comfort and, of course, create revenue. Enter licensing deals. Extending brands more deeply into the home is a strategy that is in style this season.

Whether it’s in the bedroom (Dunkin’ comforters and Pizza Hut gravity blankets) or if you’re out for a stroll (Lay’s scarves and Sour Patch Kids hoodies) — there is a licensed product to be had.

The fact that many of these new products, some launched in the past two weeks alone, are centered around comfort makes good strategic sense, says Robert Passikoff, founder and president at brand customer loyalty Brand Keys and engagement consultancy. “Brands are looking to offer comfort and build trust during the new abnormal.”

Bibi Wardak, content editor at License Global, parrots Passikoff’s sentiment. “Comfort is king. It’s what everyone is looking for right now.” This was one of the key findings from its new report, entitled License global insights — Covid-19: what happens next?

The most popular categories for licensed goods this year are apparel, accessories and footwear, toys and games, health and safety, and food and beverages. “The category that really found its moment to shine is athleisure, sportswear, loungewear and casual wear,” says Wardak. “People are opting to be comfy.”

For consumers who chose to actively place a brand on their bodies, there an intimacy that exists, says Passikoff. “The whole concept of wearing logos is a really deep sign of fealty and loyalty. The level of emotional engagement goes up. That’s the bond brands are looking for.”

Here are five brands who are looking to achieve this badge status with a spate of new products.

No sour note with some sweet swag

Last week, “America’s favorite sour candy brand,” Sour Patch Kids, released a new line of winter-inspired merchandise and limited-edition holiday candy boxes. This includes, among other items, a pillow ($39.99), streetwear fleece hoodie ($39.99) and long-sleeve tee ($29.99).

“Sour Patch Kids has incredibly loyal and passionate fans who are organically sharing their love for their favorite candy brand on social media,” says Danielle Freid, brand manager of Sour Patch Kids. “We see them rocking Sour Patch Kids inspired looks all year long, and the holidays provide another opportunity to extend that brand love.”

The Molendez-owned brand also opened a retail store in August in celebration of its 30th anniversary.


Dunkin’ perks up the perks

Dunkin’s limited-edition holiday merchandise also debuted this month. “Comfy cozy cheersin'’” announces the site’s ad copy for sweatshirts ($35), scarf and gloves ($26) and a great many sold out items. Sweatpants, robes and sheets became scarce after the chain gave first dibs to its “DD perks” members.

Rewarding hand raisers who are members of its loyalty program first “was a smart thing to do,” says Passikoff. “Points and free cups of coffee are one thing, but there are certain kinds of rewards that actually feel like a reward versus buy eight, get the ninth one free.”

sell out

Pizza Hut’s blanket makes you both hungry and sleepy

Pizza Hut scored a public relations, and sales hit last week, selling out of its $150 Original Pan weighted blanket in partnership with Gravity Products. The company said, “in a year where stress levels are at an all-time high and restful sleep remains an elusive goal, Pizza Hut is partnering with Gravity Products to serve up just what the doctor ordered — the Original Pan weighted blanket.”

“There’s no better way to close out 2020 than eating a Pizza Hut Original Pan Pizza while wrapped in the warmth and comfort of the Original Pan Weighted Blanket,” says George Felix, chief marketing officer, Pizza Hut.

“This partnership with Gravity Blanket was the perfect solution to bring one of our legendary pizzas to life while bringing our fans a little TLC at the same time.” The blanket was created by GSD&M and has been promoted heavily via PR and on social media.

Pizza Hut

Frito all the way, again

Frito-Lay went back to the well this year by reprising its ‘My Favorite Things‘ campaign starting Anna Kendrick. The campaign promotes The holiday shop which offers a slew of products from Cheetos, Doritos, Tostitos, Lay’s and Smartfood brands. This includes Frito-Lay’s holiday sweaters ($50.29), hooded onesies ($78.79) and fuzzy socks ($10.29).

"We received such an overwhelming response to last year‘s ‘Favorite Things‘ campaign from our fans asking how they could purchase a number of items in the spot that in 2020 we knew holiday sweaters were an absolute must – especially at a time when we‘re all looking for simple and fun ways to add some joy and cheer to our everyday lives,” said Rachel Ferdinando, senior vice-president and chief marketing officer, Frito-Lay North America, in a statement.


Bacardi gets saucy

Bacardi also got into the act, last week, with the launch of its spiced hot honey. The recipe was co-created with Bravo’s Chef Roblé Ali. The product is advertised as a great glaze for this Thanksgiving season. It’s also available as part of the Cocktail Courier’s “spiced up cider party kit” for $112.99.

Licensing has long been a weapon in liquor marketers’ arsenal, but there is no reason to reinvent the wheel, says Passikoff. “People are cooking more. Why not have BBQ sauce? More people are on the couch, if you’re Pizza Hut, why not have a blanket? These don’t have to be new ideas. They just need to fit with the brand and engage the customer.”


Frito-Lay Pizza Hut Bacardi

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