What markets can learn from Mr Men and INXS?

Retro themes have shaped fashion, movies, art and collectibles, but can mega icons from the 70s and 80s work as an investment strategy?

We think the nostalgia investment case is mounting, with two current campaigns yielding results.

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Time capsules have been in overdrive this week, thanks to News Limited’s Mr Men/ Little Miss initiative to remind kids of how books can provide simple, well-meaning fun and perspective, and Channel Seven for sharing the journey that was INXS. Or more appropriately, is. (See story INXS greatest hits album hits no.1 as mini-series rekindles love)

Both have been embraced enthusiastically, least not by me.

Every book has been collected, with minor regard to its Daily Telegraph host, and a record set for enduring the longest commercial ambush that was the INXS telemovie, Never Tear Us Apart.

It was on a run to the re-kindled beats of The Swing when reality struck.

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Here are two very effective strategies, aimed to restore legacies and recoup fading or lost fortunes with free flowing royalties.

Okay, a bit cynical, but perhaps an astute move by their IP owners and distribution partners to tap into our pasts.

Brands that dominated their day are now labelled ‘iconic’, presumably for their marketing brilliance, but their lasting reverence is also because they represent a mood and spirit of a different, simpler time.

Not surprisingly, nostalgia has already captured the minds of investors. There exists a handful of so called ‘character portfolios’ around the world that invest in IP assets, many in the hands of private equity.

The Mr Men/Little Miss series was in fact sold in 2011 by private equity-owned IP firm Chorion to Japanese group, Sarino, owner of kitsch brand, Hello Kitty. (Chorion didn’t survive the credit crisis, and closed in 2011. It is reportedly still looking to dispose of its assets that include rights to Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series.)

So is this contracted pool of IP owners going to hit pay dirt as brands and marketers look to create positive vibes, using adored icons from 70s and 80s to target growing consumption?

From a staunch Gen X perspective, I say hell yeah, but odds are that the IP created during an era of relative innocence and optimism will grow in value and be sought as an effective way to genuinely connect with audiences. This is an investment space we will keenly watch.

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