Korean mobile lifestyle platform company Kakao has partnered with IMG to exclusively license its globally popular character brand Kakao Friends in Europe.
Kakao Friends’ eight characters were born in 2012, derived from a series of emoticons on the Kakao Talk platform, Korea’s leading messenger platform, which has more than 200 million users. Since then it has become a household brand, with the characters’ diverse and unique personalities engaging millions of fans.
Apeach, Ryan, Muzi, Con, Tube, Neo, Frodo and Jay-G have already featured in numerous high-profile collaborations with premium international brands such as Louis Vuitton, Nike, Vans, MAC, Uniqlo, Coca Cola, Chupa Chups, Cath Kidston and more. In Korea and Japan, there are already more than 30 Kakao Friends stores and cafés with more to come in the future.
"We are super excited to bring Kakao Friends to Europe with IMG. We believe our expertise in character branding in the digital age combined with IMG's expertise in entertainment and licensing will make Kakao Friends stand out,” says Ron Cho, Director of Kakao IX UK.
“Kakao Friends' proven track record in Korea goes beyond its messenger platform, Kakao Talk's popularity,” he continued. “Although Kakao Talk is not a dominant mobile platform in other regions, its recent launch outside of Korea and massive success in the Japanese and Chinese markets proves the charm of the Kakao Friends characters.”
Reflective of the increasing global popularity of k-pop culture and Kakao Friends as a domestic phenomenon, the brand has a fast-growing following in Europe with demand from fans resulting in the launch of a European online store in July this year. IMG will look to buil on this through a broad-based programme of creative consumer products. The initial core focus for Kakao Friends in Europe will be apparel and accessories, fashion accessories and homeware with future extension into additional categories.
Matthew Primack, SVP of Licensing, IMG, says: “Having already connected emotionally with millions of fans and aspirational brands, Kakao Friends is a leading K-POP culture export and is powerfully on trend in Europe. Now is the perfect time for a social and culturally rich lifestyle brand like Kakao Friends to explore new product opportunities that reflect its unique identity and booming popularity.”
For more information on licensing opportunities, IMG and Kakao Friends will be located on stand B400 at BLE.