Licensing Career Stories: Hannah Mungo, Entertainment One
What were the career moves that brought you to the licensing business?
Like most people in this industry, licensing wasn’t a career that I always set out to do, the industry sort of came to me by chance. I studied The Management of Design and Innovation at DeMontfort University in Leicester which encompassed an array of modules in brand management, creative direction and product development, all of which gave me a great grounding for my future career.
After university I did some work experience with Portico Designs and soon after I was offered a permanent job there as Junior Project Manager for greetings, wrap, bags etc. I stayed with Portico for 4 and a half years taking on more responsibility all the time. The beauty of a smaller company is that you can make your role your own and I worked across many different areas. My title ended up as Product Manager but it could have been Licensing Manager, Account Manager or even Studio Manager, the role was very diverse.
My plan was always to move to London and I made the move from licensee to licensor in 2007 and have been with Entertainment One ever since. I joined a team of two people in the Licensing department as Licensing Manager (today we’re a team of 10) and we steadily grew Peppa Pig into the £200million property she is today. Again, Entertainment One was a small, growing company and the role was whatever I could make of it. I now Head up the UK Licensing and am responsible for licensing sales, promotions, retail and brand strategy in the UK across all categories for pre-school properties Peppa Pig, Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom and Humf.
What’s a “typical” day in your current position?
No day is ever the same and that’s one of the things I love about this role. If I’m in the office, the day is generally filled with meetings (internal and external), telephone conversations and catching up on emails. I also focus on getting the bigger projects done – brand strategy, sales analysis, preparing targeted presentations, forecasting. For the majority of the week however, I’m out of the office seeing our partners, retailers and licensees searching for new business opportunities and managing existing.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job? How do you address that challenge?
I would say that managing expectation is the most challenging aspect of my role. Retailers particularly have their own perceptions of what a property should generate and be able to achieve and educating the industry that newer properties take time to grow and won’t generate a massive amount of income straight away is a hard one. Our strategy is very much to build properties steadily, reacting to demand rather than forcing. This strategy has certainly worked for Peppa.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
The favorite part of my job is meeting hundreds of different people from an array of different industries. An average week can consist of a trip to Oldham for a business update meeting with our master toy company, then a meeting with a potential ready meal partner, the next day I could be at Asda HQ presenting to the Entertainment Council and the next day down at Peppa Pig World! It is so interesting to learn how different industries work, to meet the team behind the company and to learn how they are run.
I also enjoy identifying new ways to structure agreements. As the Peppa licensing program becomes more advanced, we’re talking to more unique partners, particularly within live events and promotions and the standard royalty rate and MG format is not necessarily the best way. A more collaborative approach can be more beneficial with some partners.
What are the most significant trends or changes that you’ve seen in the business in recent years?
One of the biggest trends to mention is the digital market and the pace in which it’s moving forward. A few years ago, I didn’t think that gaming Apps would ever catch on for children due to the nature of the format, we’ve now sold over 500,000 Peppa Pig Apps. On the marketing side, social media, mobile sites and other online mediums are now a fundamental part of the marketing mix. The introduction of augmented reality could really take marketing to a new level.
Digital is also changing the way we watch television, you only need to take The Million Pound Drop and The Bank Job as examples of how TV and gaming is colliding to become one. I’m sure they’ll be many more interactive entertainment programs developed within the next few years and children’s television is an obvious choice for this.
What are the biggest challenges facing the licensing business in the next three years?
The retail climate is a challenging one; it has been for some time and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Prices are constantly being pushed down by retailers as they struggle to gain market share. Suppliers are not only having to support everyday low price strategies but also severe mark downs at key times throughout the year.
Retailers are also only buying into the top properties making it very difficult for new properties to enter the market. Newness in the market is definitely required but properties take time to grow and build momentum, there is a lack of patience for new properties at the moment and they’re not being allowed time to establish themselves.
What advice would you give to students or young professionals wanting to pursue a career in licensing?
Throw yourself out there! Get some work experience under your belt, target companies you want to work for and get to know the industry and the people in it. Networking is imperative in this industry, the more people you meet, the more business opportunities come your way.
Any advice for mid-career professionals looking to expand their competencies?
It’s always good to expand your competencies, focus on what you enjoy most about your job or identify what you want to learn more about. Ask if you can attend meetings or trade shows with other members of your team or sit in on telephone conversations. Courses are always a good way of expanding knowledge too and I’m a big believer in asking questions, however stupid they feel at the time.