CAMPAIGNS: Tattoo artist draws attention at show, inks Lamar to deal

PR Team: Franky & Minx (New York) and Lamar Snowboards (Toronto) Campaign: Licensing Franky & Minx art Time Frame: June 2003 - present Budget: Under $2,000

PR Team: Franky & Minx (New York) and Lamar Snowboards (Toronto) Campaign: Licensing Franky & Minx art Time Frame: June 2003 - present Budget: Under $2,000

In 2001, Franky & Minx (F&M) began "Rockin' the Underworld" with a line of women's underwear featuring the designs of Lower East Side tattoo artist Franky. Since 2001, that's exactly what F&M has done, licensing artwork for everything from sweatshirts to T-shirts to motor scooters that grace the front windows of fashion boutiques. And the more Minx can publicize and promote one type of product, the more interest is created in licensing her company's artwork for other products. The advantage of licensing, Minx explains, is that the company buying the license is responsible for trade shows, production, and sales. And the more F&M publicizes its brand and pushes it with guerrilla marketing, the better everyone does. Strategy That in mind, Minx headed to a licensing trade show in June 2003, looking to expand the F&M brand. Her pitch was simple: "Licensing rather than straight buying behooves [you]: If you buy it, you're gypping yourself, because I have a vested interest in backing it up with marketing. How hard we work is how much we all get back," Minx explains. "I'm in New York, with all the magazines, and you know how to sell [your product]." Minx knows this having worked as a youth-marketing consultant for companies such as Nickelodeon and Campbell's Soup, the latter of which licensed F&M temporary tattoos. "It's a way for the company to show that it understands the youth market," Minx says. "If it's fake tattoo art, it's condescending." Minx also avoids licensing artwork in exclusive arrangements, the idea being that if the same artwork is on different types of products, they can only promote each other. "I can cross-pollinate," Minx says. Tactics Whenever a new F&M product line arrives, Minx not only pitches the fashion/lifestyle and licensing trade press, she calls upon her street team to spread the word at punk music venues and on the internet. Since 2001, Minx has found four licensees, and attracted publicity for their products by, among other things, dressing the Fuse TV on-air talent and bands on the Warp Tour in F&M-licensed clothing. At the licensing trade show, Minx, met with a Huffy corporate executive with the idea of pitching him an F&M-designed BMX bike. "He showed me the catalog, and stuff they'd done with Vivid Video," she says. Sims, one of the snowboard brands under Huffy, released the Fader line of snowboards, which feature some of Vivid Video's most popular porn stars - scantily clad, of course. So it was clear that a Huffy entity wouldn't be afraid of doing something edgy. And what Minx had in mind was the same idea, only for the punk-rock audience she'd already been targeting. After the trade show, Minx sent artwork to Toronto-based Lamar Snowboards, a division of Huffy. "As a brand, it's well-recognized, and we thought it was time to take it to the next level," says Greg Anger, director of marketing for Lamar. "The timing was good, and it was a good match, because Lamar is out there with a lot of their graphics. [F&M is] hitting the same target market," which, in this case, is women. "Historically, we've felt that the women's side of our graphics hasn't gotten a real strong push as the men's and kids', and this works out to be a perfect match," adds Anger. Results A licensing deal between F&M and Lamar was signed as quickly as mid-October 2003, and the new women's snowboards were unveiled at a trade show in mid-January 2004. Minx is already gearing up excitement among her street team, approaching licensing and snowboarding trades, and will begin pitching long-lead national publications in March. "We've had some first reactions, and they've been really positive," says Anger. "A couple of our key retailers have been in, and we did our pre-buying presentation to them. The two majors who have seen it were very positive about the graphics." Future The F&M snowboards will hit stores in August or September for the 2004-05 season. Anger says that the boards will be used in promotions at resorts next season.

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