Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker: not just cake mix anymore

So what's the story?

So what’s the story?

If you’ve always had an urge to poke the pudgy belly of that adorable Pillsbury Doughboy, you may soon get your opportunity – but don’t expect a cutesy giggle.

Baking brands like Pillsbury and Betty Crocker have signed licensing agreements to augment the exposure of their brands.

The Doughboy, for instance, will appear on kitchen accessories like canister sets and cookie jars (can you say tacky?), while Betty Crocker-branded towels, potholders and oven mitts are coming soon to a store near you. Parent company General Mills has hooked up with a half dozen licensees for its various initiatives.

In Canada, the Betty Crocker collection has been produced in conjunction with Richmond Hill, Ont.-based manufacturer Elco Home Fashions. The Betty Crocker logo, however, is only visible on packaging and tags.

‘This will help us establish relations with consumers in their homes, which is where our brand Betty Crocker lives,’ explains Leigh Ann Schwarzkopf, manager of trademark licensing at General Mills.

Not to be left out, Duncan Hines, a trademark of St. Louis, Mo.-based Aurora Foods, signed an agreement with Los Angeles-based corporate and entertainment brand licensing agency Global Icons last month. Duncan Hines will go a similar route as Betty Crocker, focusing on ‘products related to baking,’ such as kitchen utensils, bakeware and linens. (A Duncan Hines apron is sure to be the next big thing.)

Mike Gard, COO of Global Icons, says the brand, which ‘stands for quality baking mixes, brownies and frostings,’ can benefit potential licensees because it has huge awareness. ‘It’s the number-one cake mix manufacturer in the U.S., and it’s pretty popular in Canada as well.’ Packaging for the licensed goods is currently in the planning stages, but Gard says the Duncan Hines logo will be a ‘predominant part’ of the design.

Ok, but will people really want a Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker spatula?

According to Global Icons, corporate trademark and brand licensing is currently representing 25% of all licensed product sales, so the ‘time is right.’ And Duncan Hines won’t necessarily be stuck in the kitchen either, says Gard, who points out that toy companies are also a possibility. ‘We’ve been pitching the whole idea of something similar to an Easy Bake oven, as well as some kids’ cake and decorating things. They will be conducive to kids spending more time with parents.’

Isn’t there a risk of overextension?

‘We take a close look at where consumers expect the licence to be and we don’t cross the line,’ says Schwarzkopf. Gard agrees: ‘The number-one goal in our mind is to protect our client’s core brand. We never over-license in a way that would hurt that.’

He admits, however, that once Duncan Hines becomes synonymous with all things baking, it can perhaps delve into new territory. ‘For instance, we’ll start off with dessert cookbooks, but then eventually, once we’ve established Duncan Hines with those, we can venture off into other types of cookbooks.’ Sure, but what, pray tell, would be the ingredients of a Duncan Hines salad?