Walton Brown has been appointed exclusive licensing agent for The Smiley Company in Greater China.
Smiley was founded as a brand by Franklin Loufrani in 1971 from a newspaper promotion to make people happy. The logo was used to highlight good news, allowing readers to see the bright side of life throughout any day.
Currently, Smiley has retail partnerships in the China region with such partners as Bestseller Group, C&A, MetersBonwe and VF Corporation, as well as Liberation pop-up stores and a longstanding promotional collaboration with the Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC).
A retail and brand-management business, Walton Brown is a part of The Lane Crawford Joyce Group, the fashion and brand-management group that includes the luxury Lane Crawford department store, fashion boutique Joyce, fashion footwear, handbags and accessories specialist Pedder Group, and retail, brand-management and distribution company ImagineX.
Walton Brown’s fashion brands include Brooks Brothers, Juicy Couture and Kate Spade New York, with more than 220 points-of-sale across 51 cities in Greater China and Southeast Asia.
“Happiness is seen as a major consumer lifestyle trend,” says Walton Brown president Thomson Cheng. “The original Smiley brand, being an iconic symbol of positivity with 45 years of heritage and a track record of working with the biggest brands and retailers, has enormous potential to grow in this market.”
Dictionary of emotions
As CEO of The Smiley Company, founder Loufrani started experimenting in 1997 with graphic faces to correspond to the expressive emotions made from punctuation marks (ASCII emoticons). With his designers in New York, he created a dictionary of emotions comprising thousands of different Smileys, which he registered with the United States Copyright Office.
When he published them on the internet the following year, they became the first digital Smileys, allowing the company to create a new brand (SmileyWorld) that could be applied to a variety of products.
Today, The Smiley Company is one of the top 100 licensing companies in the world, with more than 260 licensees globally generating annual turnover at retail of more than $265 million and selling more than 23 million products year round. The Smiley trademark is registered in more than 100 countries and in more than 13 product categories.
Meanwhile, in partnership with The Wharf (Holdings) and eCargo Holdings, Walton Brown has established MyMM E-Commerce, which last month launched a built-for-China social mobile commerce platform, MyMM.