As part of our ‘Spotlight’ series, we are sitting down with members of team-Fabacus, to share their backgrounds and expertise, as well as speaking with clients and thought-leaders within the licensing and retail industries to share thoughts and opinions on the future of the industry and how technology can aid both businesses and consumers.
Today, we’re speaking with Account Executive, Cameron Hogg, on his first year with Fabacus and the growth that’s come with it:
Hi Cam, thanks for your time today; perhaps we can start with a bit about yourself and your background, before joining Fabacus last year?
Sure, I went to Loughborough University to study Economics and Management. It was a three-year course with a placement year, in which I worked at Disney in their Consumer Products team. My role mainly focused on ‘Premiums and Promotions’ – promotional merchandise which is given away at events and as gift with purchase for example, which gave me some really interesting insights into both the industry and the world of consumer products, particularly being in one of the biggest licensors – or the biggest licensor in the world.
I finished my degree and then from there I saw the role at Fabacus. From my time at Disney, I really enjoyed the relationship-side of working with licensees and also saw a number of challenges that they faced, so to be instrumental in helping them and to be able to work closely with licensees in client management was really what sold it.
That’s great, so from a big corporate like Walt Disney Co. to a more agile tech start-up – what else made you want to make that change and join Fabacus?
Working in more of a start-up environment always appealed to me from feeling and seeing a sense of direct impact in what you’re doing. At larger corporates, you can sometimes feel like a small cog in a massive organisation, whereas I feel every day when I come into work what I’m doing is impactful, and you can see and measure the outcomes – I find that really rewarding.
Then also the fact that we cover the entire value chain really interested me. Whilst the work I’m doing is directly B2B, changing and evolving businesses – it’s also impacting the end consumers. The technology we’re implementing is really changing how consumers and audiences are interacting with brands, namely licensed brands & products – that’s really exciting to be involved in and pioneering.
You mentioned about the technology, obviously with your background in CP & Licensing at Disney, it made sense to build a career in the industry – but what is it about the technology that excites you?
It’s the future-facing aspect for me. I knew that I wanted to both learn more about the building of technology solutions and how it can then go on to impact business operations and consumer behaviour. Working at Fabacus has allowed me to broaden my understanding of technology and its different uses. Day to day it’s amazing to see how technology can be used and implemented in different ways within licensing, for example a sports brand will utilise it in a very different way compared to a character and entertainment brand, who will be again different compared to a live event. The idea that the possibilities are endless means that every day is different, especially now when it’s coming to conversations around NFTs, Web3.0 and the Metaverse. Technology is fully being utilised to broaden brand universe’s and maximise the potential of their future-facing activations.
Things are evolving and developing at a significant rate, especially with the power of technology. That being said, what are the major changes you’ve play out over the past couple of years within licensing and retail?
The pandemic has definitely forced brands to think innovatively and to think about how they can adapt to be ready for the changes that are coming. I think many within licensing will have known for a period of time they need to be more on top of their data and what data they have available to them in order to be making strategic decisions. Well, they’ve known that they need to do it but without necessarily understanding how to do it, so I think another big change is the conversation, education and general understanding on how to use technology better and data too.
Everything we do has moved online now, from interactions with team members to customers, clients etc – additionally from a retail landscape the explosion of online marketplaces, ecommerce and social commerce. Licensees and licensors are both now in a position to want to explore how they can best utilise data and technology to better their product & brand performance and perception online to thrive in a busy and difficult landscape and really maximise their efforts and ROI.
So that’s looking outwards at the industry and its evolution over the past couple of years. We’d love to know more about your year at Fabacus and what you’ve achieved and worked on…
Sure! So, I was lucky to start at a really exciting time with Fabacus, just as we’d signed Rovio as a client to for their Angry Birds brand. It was at the start of building their programme and digital product catalogue on Xelacore Register, so I was able to get stuck in from day one within my role as part of the onboarding process for their licensees. It was exciting, and I guess quite daunting, having that immediate responsibility, but I loved having those interactions with licensees across the across the world and across categories.
As a sports fan, it was also a highlight working with UFC launching the first Xelacore Reach campaign with their licensee Venum. Seeing the campaign move from implementation through to going live, then tracking the results and how impactful the technology has been both to the brand and licensee – allowing them to gain that deeper insight into who their consumers are. As a Licensor, to be able to understand exactly who their end consumer of their licensed product is, channelling the power of that data is huge for their strategy and planning – and it’s currently untapped!
Then there was the first launch of Xelacore Live, in partnership with Taste of London on both their summer and ‘Festive’ food festivals. I think one of the most memorable moments for me was running round Tobacco Docks putting up QR codes at the festival, then seeing consumers coming in engaging with the content we had created. Technology can often run in the background but seeing that as part of a real, first-person experience with people engaging and collecting their rewards, whilst also knowing what’s going on the background was really rewarding.
A lot of ‘firsts’ there – some amazing campaigns to be spearheaded by Fabacus really changing the landscape of what is possible for brands with the introduction of technology. That being said, where do you see the industry in the next 5 years? What key changes do you think they’ll be?
For me, it’s about giving the customer the best brand experience you can give; linking your licensed products directly back to your brand ecosystem and encompassing your audience in everything your brand has to offer.
I think the pandemic has forced the need for less siloed working, more information sharing, more collaboration, and partnerships and this is meaning an increase in more accessible and (hopefully!) governed data. If they’re not flying blind then brands are going to be able to connect the loop of licensor, licensee, retailer and consumer far more effectively and be able to feedback that customer information into what products and designs their making and engaging with, moving forward.
Aside from that they can also create supplementary brand engagement pieces to support the brand universe. Whether that’s digital content, theme park rides, streaming content etc – consumers nowadays (I feel) have got smaller attention spans and if they aren’t being engaged by a brand regularly and shown a level of appreciation for their purchase or brand loyalty, they’re going to be quick to switch off. I’d say it’s going to become more and more important to be able direct licensed products back into your overall brand and to be able to continuously grow and give that customer the best brand experience that you can give.
Okay, so what can brands be doing more to provide value for consumers, especially giving the events of the past few years, as you mentioned?
I say tying in both experiences with the products in a harmonious way as is really important. If a consumer has is invested into the brand from a product side and they’re also watching your brand content, being able to you link the two together I think is such a valuable opportunity for brands – not only for their bottom line but for audience value.
From my own experience as a consumer, let’s say for example with the UFC – something that I really appreciate is all the additional content that they’re providing in addition to just their main content which is the fights. Things like the pre-fight analysis’, their ‘UFC Embedded’ series, then the other touch points like their merchandise. Brands have so many opportunities to connect with their consumers, and technology is something that can tie all these touch points together nicely.
Some great insight into wider industry thinking and what is going to be possible. I wonder, in thinking more about you personally, is there anyone within the industry or business you look to as a role model, mentor or thought leader?
Within the business, I’d say since joining I’ve learned so much from Jonathan Baker (Fabacus, EVP Licensing) – from his industry experience, his knowledge, his insight into how customer and client bases really operate and think – that deeper understanding of the industry as a whole has been really valuable.
He’s also been so supportive in a personal development way. He’s willing to help me professionally – no question is too small or stupid – being able to have that interaction to talk through everything from customer journey to building out processes, it’s helped me to (I hope) to improve within my role.
With how the company is set up, it’s amazing to be able to have direct access to such amazing people like JB and our founder & CEO Andrew Xeni – and them sharing their knowledge and learnings at the start of my career. Even to overhear their conversations and how they develop their relationships with people at C level, it’s an amazing experience for me and my career.
Speaking of your career within licensing and at Fabacus do you have a dream client… if they’re not one already?
Ah well… there’s lots that are already! I mentioned I’m a sports fan, and as a tennis player something within tennis would be so interesting. Perhaps working with somebody like Wimbledon would be really exciting. They have all the different touch points where we can make an impact – imagine connecting the live event to the merchandise, marketing potential and giving a year-round customer experience. The possibility to activate on the ground at Wimbledon, getting attendees engaged while they’re at the tournament would be amazing – and then they have all the merchandise they can then offer and elevate with Xelacore Reach. Thinking about what additional content they could offer fans and what insight they could gain as a brand through working with us, would be awesome, and a real game changer.
Finally, what advice would you have to potential applicants of a similar role at Fabacus, or things they should know or be aware of?
I think the best thing about working at Fabacus is being able to covers so many aspects. Everyone’s skills are very much used in all areas – it’s such a varied day to day. Compared to a larger corporate, where typically you’ll be engaging with people at a similar level within the organisation, you have the exciting opportunity to engage with people at all levels within organisations when working within a start-up. We have a very flat hierarchy and there’s no feeling that you can’t talk to person based off their role or title, or how much experience they’ve got. That’s something I’ve thoroughly valued over my year here, the years and years of experience that your colleagues have and able to share with you. They take under their wing and really guide you into growing within a role.