• Gail Mitchell - CEO Centa IP.
    Gail Mitchell - CEO Centa IP.
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Licensing firm, Centa IP, has taken out the Most Innovative Licensing Partnership award, for its work on the Ryan’s World merchandise collection, in partnership with Headstart International.

Beginning life as The Fusion Agency owned and run by Gail Mitchell, Centa IP came to life in 2017, when Norma Rosenhain bought the business from Gail and rolled it into her global licensing company.

“Norma loved the idea of licensing. She bought a half-share of Fusion in 2015,” Mitchell says.

“In July 2017 she bought the balance of the company and in May 2018, she offered me the CEO role for the entire group. I now run Centa IP – our local office, the US team and the UK office.”

Despite being a global business, the agency has a small team and are selective about the properties they represent.

“It’s not about the number of Principals, it’s about the quality of service we provide,” Mitchell says. “Being small means we are fast and easy to work with. We are also very well connected and of course, profitable.

“We can also take risks. We’re running the first influencer-driven brand with Ryan’s World from pocket.watch.”

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Gail Mitchell - CEO, Centa IP.

Centa IP became involved in the YouTube influencer, Ryan, in partnership with licence owners, US-based media company, pocket.watch. However, initially, Ryan wasn’t the focus.

“When we started working with Stone Newman at pocket.watch, our immediate focus was on selling their television content,” Mitchell says.

“We started off being really focused on pocket.watch’s TV content but then, in the background, there’s this amazingly popular little kid whose got fantastic global viewership and the focus shifted simultaneously for all of us because we were looking for a way to tap into that YouTube audience.”

Gail said that in Australia, it was difficult initially to get people to understand the concept of licensing a YouTuber’s brand. However, Centa IP brought on Headstart as master toy partner and Big W as the toy launch retail partner.

“Working with Headstart as master toy made so much sense because Andy (Andrew Hendy) spends a lot of their advertising funds on YouTube. He gets it. It made absolute sense to partner with him as our master toy distributor. They’ve done a fantastic job,” Mitchell says.

“I think for us, the trick is going to be strategically managing Ryan’s World. It has been fantastic that since the August 2018 launch with Walmart in the States, there’s never been enough stock. We hope Ryan will be so popular, here and in the UK, that the same thing will happen for us.

“This YouTube influencer licensing is a brand new medium and a mind-set change for us, our licensees and our retail partners, but this is where we know our kids are spending their time.

“We have TV coming up as well for Ryan, so the kids who aren’t allowed on YouTube will be able to access him via TV which will be fantastic.”

In the coming year, Gail says that Centa IP will have a heightened focus on YouTube influencers, while also cultivating the traditional children’s entertainment streams that Centa has had success with.

“We will stay true to the children’s entertainment formats we established the company on, but we are anticipating that Ryan’s World will be as successful here as it has been in the USA.”

In a climate where kids are frequently turning to YouTube for entertainment, this step in a direction that feels foreign now may become the norm in the coming years. By then, Centa IP will be so well versed in this type of licensing, they’ll be looking for what’s next. ❉

Favourite moment in the business so far...

Moving into our own office! When I set Fusion up, I had wanted to keep costs down and John Herbert very kindly offered space in his U. Games offices in St Leonards. We moved in to brand new premises just one street away from where we had been in St Leonards and we’ve loved being here ever since.

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