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Food licensing flavored with sophistication


The Licensing Show kicks off at New York’s Jacob Javits Center on June 19, and summer blockbuster season is well under way at movie theaters, so consideration about how far food licensing has come over the past decade is warranted. Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” licensing, for example, was developed as part of a larger effort to focus on more nutritious food for kids, while Masterfoods USA has developed an elaborate integrated marketing program in association with “Shrek the Third.”

Masterfoods USA developed a character for its M&M’s/Shrek tie-in that played into conventional and unconventional advertising this summer, including an online game. “We introduced advertising to support the M&M’s product and also enhanced the M&M’s Web site,,” said Masterfoods USA spokeswoman Renee Kopkowski. But the effort involved more than just M&M’s or just advertising. “The Mars candy products developed for the Shrek promotion include M&M’S Ogre-sized peanut butter candy, Skittles Shrek mix and Snickers with green nougat. The goal was to extend the appeal and fun of each of our candy brands by joining with the fun and appeal of Shrek.”

At Disney, licensors looked at how to make even blockbuster initiatives more reflective of level-headed positioning. With “Pirates of the Carribean,” Disney has further refined a licensing strategy meant to associate the company with better children’s health. “Historically, when it came to food licensing, we played in sweets and treats as an extension of the experience in Disney Parks,” said Lance Gatewood, Disney vp of food. “What we’ve done in the last couple of years is refocus on bringing to the marketplace healthier food solutions for mom. Disney’s evolution has transitioned it from historical items to a food portfolio that provides healthier food options that get into milk, healthier snacks and healthier cereals with less than 10 grams of sugar per serving.”

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