The Smiley Company’s Evolution From Licensor to a €350m Lifestyle Brand

Based in 1971 by way of Franklin Loufrani, The Smiley Corporate constructed its trade on distributing its “Smiley” icon thru greater than 300 licensees throughout 12 primary classes, promoting 68 million merchandise a 12 months throughout type, house, good looks, artwork, design and meals.

Nowadays, the corporate is reinventing itself. Below the management of Loufrani’s son Nicolas, The Smiley Corporate has moved clear of a mass-market licensing trade fashion and into a strategically pushed international type and way of life logo.

To permit this trade shift, Loufrani focal point used to be to push the corporate in opposition to catwalk collaborations with one of the most global’s main type homes and architects. Up to now, The Smiley Corporate has collaborated with luxurious homes like Dior, Moschino and Loewe, and partnered with shops and types like Ma(r)ket, Ellesse, Reebok, Puma and Champion, taking a look to additionally have interaction the streetwear group.

This spring, The Smiley Corporate will introduce its unique Collector’s Version, that includes over 50 dressmaker collaborations throughout a vary of classes. The assortment used to be evolved in partnership with graffiti artist André Saraiva and Sarah Andelman, ingenious director of former Parisian boutique, Colette.

Now, BoF sits down with The Smiley Company’s CEO Nicolas Loufrani to be told extra concerning the corporate’s cultural affect and its plans for the longer term.

Nicolas Loufrani, CEO at The Smiley Company.

What triggered Smiley’s repositioning as a way of life logo?

Smiley began as a mass-market vending phenomenon within the early Nineteen Seventies. Within the past due Nineteen Eighties, it changed into related to the underground motion from London to Detroit, with space and digital track, which led to overexploitation and little ingenious keep an eye on.

After Smileys advanced into the primary graphic emoticons within the past due 90s, I determined from 2007 to reinvent Smiley as a type logo, to refocus the unique Smiley manufacturers and trade that my father began. This led to splitting the trade into two distinct programmes — the unique Smiley logo, our way of life icon, and Smiley Global, which is our emoticons trade.

To reposition the unique Smiley 15 years in the past, we got to work in collaboration with designers, reminiscent of Jean-Charles de Castelbajac and Jeremy Scott with the undertaking “Smiley for Moschino” and Ora-Ito designed our perfume and good looks vary. That is when Smiley started to achieve higher relevance on this planet of style and good looks, and our merchandise began promoting in Selfridges, Henri Bendel and Fred Segal, amongst different division and thought shops the world over.

How has Smiley approached repositioning itself into a way of life logo?

Inside the trade, we arrange a design studio in London, hiring other folks from around the type trade to paintings throughout the type department, in advertising and around the logo. We additionally employed PR in key international markets to create hype round Smiley and its merchandise. This helped to toughen the emblem we had been construction round values of happiness, positivity and inclusivity.

We discovered that those are the type of values that attraction to a lot of designers, international manufacturers and type chains. As we evolved extra partnerships around the trade, running with luxurious designers and main shops, we imagine the emblem changed into extra related. It’s been a 15-year undertaking since we started the method in 2007 and now, as of 2022, we generate €200 million value of gross sales globally inside our type department, running with the largest manufacturers and retail chains on this planet.

What key demanding situations arose in launching the emblem?

We had aimed for an preliminary release of the Smiley logo in February 2020, but if the sector went into lockdown, sentiment used to be low, companies had been suffering, other folks had been on furlough — I used to be even questioning if there used to be any long term in promoting garments. However after a few months, we began to obtain comments that this used to be what other folks wanted — Smiley used to be a nice message of hope and positivity throughout a time of such uncertainty.

Values of happiness, positivity and inclusivity […] attraction to a lot of designers, international manufacturers and type chains.

So, we endured and ultimately controlled to release the undertaking in Galeries Lafayette throughout France, Germany, in China and the Heart East in addition to Indonesia, Nordstrom in the US and Canada, City Clothing stores in 6 nations for our game and streetwear variety, and lots of different division retailer chains. We have now since signed over 50 logo collaborations, reminiscent of with designers reminiscent of Raf Simons, Karl Lagerfeld, Caroline Herrera and Dsquared.

How does Smiley manner opting for its logo collaborators?

Repositioning for us is all about selecting the proper collaborations and dealing with the correct manufacturers and influencers. It’s about growing tradition. With this sentiment in thoughts, we made the verdict now not to put Smiley Originals within the mass-market. We’re as a substitute transferring to create the correct feel and look for Smiley by way of being selective concerning the designers we paintings with.

We’ve repositioned from the highest of the pyramid, focusing first on luxurious, game and streetwear collaborations, like dressmaker a sneaker with Reebok, jerseys with Champion and a backpack with Eastpak. We even have a massive mid-tier focal point to achieve the Gen-Z client, running with type teams together with Inditex and its manufacturers, like Zara, Pull and Endure and Bershka. As a outcome, we create a huge quantity of recent artwork our studio creates each season and we persistently create unique artistic endeavors for each and every spouse.

How has this manner formed your upcoming assortment release?

For our fiftieth anniversary marketing campaign, we needed to create one thing distinctive that hasn’t ever been achieved earlier than on our scale of industrial. So, we employed Sarah Andelman, the founding father of Parisian boutique Colette, who has labored with Smiley earlier than on some unique editions. With Sarah’s distinctive popular culture imaginative and prescient, we have now evolved a technique to make our emblem a distinctive collector’s version, together with hiring creatives reminiscent of side road artist André Saraiva who recreated the Smiley emblem, making our “Take the Time to Smile” message international, translating it into quite a lot of languages — from Arabic, Chinese language, Korean, French and German — to talk to a common client base.

We’ve repositioned from the highest of the pyramid, focusing first on luxurious, game and streetwear collaborations.

Our technique is to focal point on storytelling. Each programme we release is supported by way of ingenious movies, visible vending, PR, occasions and social media campaigns, with collaboration nonetheless on the centre of our manner. David Guetta has produced his newest track video with us to unfold our slogan “Take the Time to Smile.” Our side road artwork may also be a part of his concert events and membership gigs during the 12 months, which began along with his New 12 months’s Eve live performance in Abu Dhabi.

What are The Smiley Company’s mid-term objectives?

We just lately trademarked the slogan “Long term Sure’’, in which we plan to create 25 % of our merchandise as sustainable, underneath the “Long term Sure’’ branding. We’re aiming to reach a one hundred pc dedication to sustainability throughout the way of life manufacturers we paintings with thru collaborations and licensing offers. inside 5 years. We’re going to use this as our marketing campaign theme to open corners in division shops and to expand logo collaborations.

It’s additionally a marketing campaign that we began with Brand Licensing Europe, an annual licensing display in London, again in November 2021. We would like to display all firms concerned within the licensing trade that a key part of the longer term for us is to display we’re right here to advertise and beef up trade in the best way we produce and upcycle. This marketing campaign is designed to align with the sustainable construction objectives that our non-profit the Smiley Motion has been selling for the previous 4 years.

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