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Momentum builds for the Smiley Brand Worldwide

Smiley is back in NY with new products, bold strategy and partnership with MMI

The world-famous, yellow and black Smiley icon comes to the New York Licensing Show this year celebrating a new partnership with US agent MMI and a host of new product initiatives to show visitors and potential partners.

The Smiley brand has come a long way since first exhibiting in New York in 1997. The last few years have seen a radical overhaul of brand strategy resulting in the highly successful launch of Smiley products as diverse as luxury fragrance and 3D jigsaw puzzles across Europe last year. Smiley now targets three distinct consumer segments under three brand names: SmileyWorld, Smiley Collection and its collaboration with talented young designer Ora Ito.

Each of the three Smiley brand segments will be show-cased at the company's booth in New York, where visitors can learn more about what Smiley has to offer, browse existing products and look at new product designs. Founder and head of Smileyworld Ltd, Nicolas Loufrani, says, `We want to show people that we're making good quality and interesting products. This is a very important year for us because of our new partnership with leading agency, MMI which has built its reputation working with artistic greats such as Erte, Salvador Dali, and Andy Warhol. We are looking forward to working with MMI to secure new American licensees for Smiley.'

MMI President, Marilyn Goldberg, who has just been inducted to the Art Expo Hall of Fame for 30 years of excellence in the creative industry of licensing says, `Our vision is to enhance our licensees with new creative brand concepts. We hope to give our clients the edge on their competition. We strive to focus on the best for the future with brands that are classical and have longevity. Smiley feel's good, and expands our energy and that of our clients.'

Smileyworld Ltd has created the three distinct Smiley brands to reflect the different aspects of what the Smiley icon represents to consumers. To some, it's the retro peace sign of the 70s. To others, it resonates with 80s house music. For most, it's a symbol of happiness. First, it has created the Smiley Collection, to celebrate the icon's vintage style and appeal. Smiley Collection lifestyle products, like clothing and accessories, launched into high-end retailers in Europe last year, their celebrity appeal and fashion credentials earning some powerful media coverage. Every Smiley Collection product uses organic and fair trade cotton.

A fragrance was also launched last year (at Fred Segal in the US), the first product to be developed as part of Smiley's collaboration with industrial designer Ora Ito, using what the designer calls, Happy Therapy. For this, Ito incorporates technical features into the products that actually make you feel happier. It's a case of the emotion becoming the brand and vice versa. With the fragrance this is a matter of pure chemistry but it will be different in other Smiley by Ora Ito lines, the next of which is scheduled for launch later this year.

Thirdly, the SmileyWorld brand celebrates Smiley as a means for social expression and communication through its 1200 specially-created Smiley icons that `live' online and are used by young people the world over to communicate. They can already be found on a wide range of licensed social expressions products and accessories and are of huge appeal to licensees. Smiley is also working on a range of books, art and craft products and toys that will use the Smiley icons in a more educational way, to help children to better understand emotions and express themselves.

To make the most of the current momentum around the brand and to spread the Smiley philosophy worldwide, Smileyworld Ltd has appointed agents in South America, India, Japan, Korea and the middle East, as well as MMI in the US. Smiley's mission is to make the world a happier place to live and the energy behind it comes from Nicolas Loufrani, whose father, the French journalist Franklin Loufrani, created the smiley icon in the 1971 as signal to highlight good news in the paper, France Soir. Smileyworld Ltd has established the SmileyWorld Association which collects ten percent of revenues to fund projects campaigning against social exclusion.

`We really are the only property able to leverage companies and brands willing to manufacture environmentally friendly and socially friendly products,' says Nicolas Loufrani.

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