Story.1888 – the creative services wing of licensing agency The Point.1888 – was established in 2021 to offer licensing clients an unparalleled level of support, from product branding and style guides, to product marketing, strategy, content creation and campaign management.

Before the team heads to Vegas for this year’s Licensing Expo, Licensing Biz asked Director of Marketing Sarah Crimes to talk us through the company’s journey so far, the services it offers, and its plans for the coming months.

Do you want to briefly outline The Point.1888’s USP, its retail-first strategy?

Compared to the traditional licensing model, which follows the pattern of licensor and licensee agreeing on a deal and then finding a retailer to deliver product to consumers, The Point.1888’s methodology reverses that by working with retailers to identify gaps at retail and utilising the brands we represent to fill those gaps with products with purpose. This approach delivers sustainable revenue and increases brand awareness, consumer touch points and brand love, and provides long-term certainty for our clients whilst doing what’s best for retailers, manufacturers and consumers.

What was the thinking behind the launch of Story.1888? (It was an unusual step for a licensing agency to launch a creative agency.) What does the agency do differently?

For over three years now, really since our team expanded in a big way, we’ve been able to offer our licensing clients an exceptionally high level of support in areas such as marketing, advertising, creative and product launches in a way that other agents weren’t able to. We also immediately started getting requests from non-licensing clients, outside of the industry and within, to support them in areas we now had specialists in.

I proposed to Will [Stewart, CEO and founder] that we could set up a sister agency alongside The Point.1888 to house all this in a much clearer way, so internally and externally we could really shout about our expertise. So, Story.1888 was born and immediately we had clients ready to work alongside us on their brands and business strategy.

In terms of what we do differently here at Story.1888, it’s all about our team. But what we really focus on is bringing brand stories to life, and with retail being the heartbeat of everything we do within both agencies, we truly can influence and understand this incredibly important touchpoint and just how to talk to consumers.

Can you give us a flavour of the expertise you have on the team – are people from diverse marketing/advertising/social media/licensing/design backgrounds? Who are the key players?

We are an eclectic bunch, from retail buying, licensing, marketing and advertising backgrounds, experienced in everything from starting companies to working with some of the world’s biggest brands. This allows us to wear many hats, and truly understand how best to tell a brand’s story with retail and consumers at heart.

Story.1888 is led by me, as Director of Marketing, and Martin McLaughlin, who is our Director of Strategy. We both have very varied and differing careers spanning over 30 years collectively. From launching brands, and working on some big advertising campaigns for the likes of T-Mobile, Toyota and Levi’s, to writing and executing brand growth strategies for start-ups and leading new product launches via B2B and B2C, we hope our experience across manufacturing, retail, marketing, events and collaborations can really offer our Story.1888 clients a fresh new way of looking at their business and brand growth.

Can you tell us about the various services that Story.1888 offers clients? How do you bring a brand story to life? 

Our capabilities as an agency are really flexible, to ensure that we can offer a truly bespoke service to our clients. Our work to date has been varied (just like our experience), from creative – things like style guides, pitch documents, mock-ups, logos, branding, and websites – to full-scale campaign idea generation and execution. We have done a lot of strategy and consultancy pieces for brands with specific goals in mind, such as how to launch a new product into the market. I’d say launch strategies seem to be a real area of interest right now and something we are hugely competent in.

We also have businesses working with us on a monthly basis; we provide support with their brand strategy, social media content planning and posting/engagement as well as paid ad campaigns. PR has always been a real strength for us as a business, and we are pleased to have clients we support in their noise creation via PR.

We’ll be attending Licensing Expo in Vegas this year, so if you would like to discuss what we might be able to do for you, please do get in contact!

Looking to the future, is there anything in particular you’re excited about? Trends? New markets and opportunities? Gen Z coming of age? Experiential coming back, post Covid?

We are entering an incredibly challenging period in all our lives from a marketing and consumer reach point of view. There’s no doubt about it, we have all been hit hard by the last few years, and the way we spend our money, and our time, is changing. Yes, we all want experiential again, we want connection to people and places, and we know that will be hugely important for brands to engage with.

But what we are most excited by is really getting to know these changes to consumers’ behaviour and being ahead of the curve when it comes to how they engage with brands and what they choose to spend their hard-earned money on. We have become a more cynical nation in the last few years as well – who can blame us? – which is adding complexity to the way we can successfully market brands. It’s been a tough ride and we all deserve better, and that’s exactly what consumers are demanding! It’s exciting for us as cross-channel marketeers to really get to know just what we can do to support these changes.

What clients have you worked with so far, and what did the campaigns look like? Are there any planned product launches or new partnerships you’re allowed to talk about? 

We have some super-exciting creative work we are leading for some of our clients which will take shape in brand-new licensing programmes hitting the market from 2023 onwards.

We are supporting a leading American drinks brand in their journey over the pond. From marketing and awareness campaigns to retail distribution strategy and delivery – this is going to be a big one and you will find us all over the country this summer trialling the brand and building momentum ready for next year’s launch.

Our most exciting partnership this year (so far) involves a series of marketing and activations featuring a very large inflatable in the shape of a much-loved animal (who happens to be the nation’s favourite sweet!). Sadly we can’t say any more right now, but as soon as we can, we’ll be the first to tell you!

Story.1888 will be at Licensing Expo, Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas, from 24-26 May 2022.