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Boutique Licensing Agency Lands Major Deal With Sanrio

The Brand New Licensing Agency Inks Deal With Sanrio Property Mr. Men and Little Miss

The new Boutique Licensing Agency—aka BLA!—was formed as an EMEA-focused licensing agency whose aim is to transform the partnership experience in the licensing industry, and their approach seems to be working. Only a few months after formally entering the market, BLA! hit the ground running with its first representation: Mr. Men and Little Miss, the famous British brand owned by the Japanese multinational corporation Sanrio Co., Ltd.

BLA! says it is a new agency inspired by a customer-centric approach and new thinking, but it is building on a base of experience and expertise across multiple categories and regions. 

Heading a list of founders that reads like a who’s who of major names from successful global toy and entertainment organizations are BLA! Managing Directors Maria Maranesi and Marie-Noelle Lutte.

Maranesi has more than 20 years of licensing experience in global organizations, including the role of EMEA Regional Leader across the full portfolio of Mattel & HIT brands and, most recently, VP EMEA, National Geographic Partners, where she drove the vision and strategy for the National Geographic licensing programme in Europe & Africa.

For Mattel, EMEA Lutte drove strategy, market growth and product innovation in the publishing category. For The Walt Disney Company she led a strategic partnership with the company’s major global publishing licensee.

The other members of the BLA! team include former senior executives from the toys, publishing, entertainment and licensing sectors, all of whom bring many decades of experience to this new venture — along with an enviable network of world-class manufacturing, licensing and retail contacts. But this innovative new agency stands out in another way. The founders say it has a commitment to being part of transforming licensing to become a more sustainable industry. 

“Our aim with BLA! was to combine fresh thinking, recognised expertise and a strong network of contacts with a highly adaptable and personalized service – and we’re thrilled to be able to announce such a well-loved brand as our first representation,” said Maranesi. “We’re looking forward enormously to working with Sanrio during a key year for the Mr. Men and Little Miss brand.”

Mr. Men and Little Miss is BLA!’s first representation, and Maranesi says the brand is a true classic with a multi-generational appeal, powerful levels of awareness, annual publishing sales in the millions, and continuing brand growth.

“We are here to bring solutions that address the needs of all parties: brand owners, licensees, retailers and consumers,” said Lutte. “Building and nurturing strong relationships as a trusted and values-driven partner reinforces everything we do. In addition, the real magic happens when we transform our business opportunities into mutual win-wins.”

The brand will have a higher profile than ever as it reaches its 50th anniversary in 2021 and BLA! will be bringing its vast experience in toys, publishing and entertainment to bear on expanding this powerful and popular property into new areas beyond its key regional markets of the UK and France, says Lutte. She adds that BLA! will be focusing on the highly significant markets of Iberia, GSA, Benelux, Nordic, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, the Baltics, Russia and the CIS for all product categories. The company will also manage Latin American markets for publishing rights only.

“Sanrio is happy to partner with such an innovative and flexible agency,” said Silvia Figini, the COO at Mr. Men – Worldwide. “Their attention to cultural diversity and sustainability will definitely be an important asset for our growth in Europe and is consistent with our corporate identity. BLA!’s expertise and strong network of contacts make them a great choice for a dynamic company like Sanrio/Mr. Men and we are sure they will support our business development significantly.”

Sanrio is the global lifestyle brand best known for Hello Kitty, which was created in 1974, and home to many other beloved character brands such as My Melody, LittleTwinStars, Cinnamoroll, Pompompurin, gudetama, Aggretsuko, Chococat, Bad Badtz-Maru, Kerokerokeroppi and the British icons Mr. Men Little Miss. 

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