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Don't Say Can*t

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In February 2021 Born Licensing launched its first-ever creative campaign targeting UK adland by deploying a crack team of well-known characters to challenge the 'can’t-do' attitude the industry has about he use of licensed characters in creative campaigns.

In an industry first, Born Licensing brought together SpongeBob SquarePants, Grumpy Bear from the Care Bears, 90s icon Daria, a Ninja Turtle, Garfield, Beavis from Beavis and Butthead and Mr. Grumpy from Mr. Men Little Miss.

The creative tells the industry ‘Don’t Say Can*t’ and encourages adland to explore the realms of possibility that come from licensing fictional characters to engage and connect with audiences.

The campaign was inspired by the discovery that 85% of industry creatives believed that using film and TV characters more frequently would help their work to gain more attention. However, 100% of industry creatives had experienced campaigns where the IP did not go ahead due to preconceptions of licensed character use*.

The campaign was created by creative duo Will Grave and Sander Vos with designs by Xavier Segers. It launched across digital channels after a launch with The Drum. 

David Born, Founder of Born Licensing, comments, “There is so much potential to be explored with licensing fictional characters – their use really does make people sit up and take notice, especially in a B2B campaign. They’re hugely and instantly recognisable, carry very positive associations to audiences, and their use is tremendously flexible – as shown with the success of the He Man and Skeletor ads for MoneySupermarket, and Robocop, Bumblebee and Donatello for Direct Line. 

Will Grave explains “After 10 years in this industry, Sander and I have probably heard a ‘thousand’ cants in meetings over the years before an idea is even given the chance to flourish. This campaign is a challenge to this can’t do attitude, delivered by an iconic cast of characters. It was a lot of fun to develop a tone of voice for them individually, one in keeping with their character too, especially 90s favourite ‘Daria’. Having worked directly with Born Licensing, every step along the way they have been a creative client, willing to push the envelope and make good work. We’re confident for the creatives out there who want to reboot some of their favourite characters in their ads, they will never say ‘cant’ to you.”

Sander Vos added, “It’s a unique challenge to design creative which is targeting other creatives. That’s why we felt that this campaign needed something bold and impactful. Luckily we had the opportunity to deploy an all-star team of characters to deliver this. Through the use of cropping and bold typography we aimed to display these icons in a motivational and unexpected manner”

The campaign was supported by a Don’t Say Can*t manifesto with a message from Born and all creatives.

*Survey Monkey poll conducted by Born Licensing among 50 advertising agency representatives, November 2020


Advertiser: Born Licensing

Creative Agency

Creative Agency: Sander Vos and William Grave (freelance creative team)


Creative Designer: Xavier Segers

Character Licensing

Licensing Agency: Born Licensing

Director: David Born

Senior Licensing Executive: Amber Cheung

Character rights holders

Licensors: ViacomCBS, CloudCo, Sanrio

Genres: Animation, Comedy

Categories: Other

Born Licensing, 1 year ago