by Debby Lee Head of Argonon Connect
In 2009 BA (Before Argonon) I joined Leopard Films. To earn my Leopard spots, my first task as the newly appointed Head of Commercial Development was to look at our IP and devise an action plan to develop brand extensions around our programming.
Week one in the big Leopard House, found me auditing our TV slate. Before presenting my ideas to CEO, James Burstall on how to launch our TV shows as TV brands. As an unashamedly marketeer, it didn’t take me long to realise that we had an almighty sleeping giant in our “potential brand” arsenal: the much-loved BBC hit, Cash in the Attic.
Cash in the Attic, met all my criteria and totally fitted my business mantra – “a TV brand is born when the series returns and transfers.” Oh, yes indeed, these boxes were well and truly ticked with a very thick marker pen!
Series after series, on BBC One for over a decade, regularly winning that much prized “slot.” And was it transferring? Another mighty “yes” – (big up to Katie Stephenson here! www.argononinternational.com), the group’s sales team had sold Cash in the Attic to over 150 countries, including local formats made for the US HGTV, France M6 and Holland NED2. This was a no brainer for us. Cash in the Attic’s big, bold, brand plan was born.
At the time of my initial research, series 18 was being made and the first Cash in the Celebrity Attic was in pre-production, so I was gifted with a live and dynamic production environment in which to learn everything about the show and the subject. I was able to pull in a vast amount of knowledge and support from our hugely talented producers (Simon Harries – the jewel in the Cash in the Attic production crown), researchers, execs and some of our super on-screen talent (including Jonty Hearnden, Paul Hayes, Lorne Spicer, James Cameron, James Rylands). Everyone understood the journey and everyone shared our ambition and excitement.
As a brand development specialist, one of my challenges is to create a story around the brand. On this basis, Cash in the Attic, was the brand that kept on giving. The theme: meeting everyday folk in their own homes, where our charismatic experts could unearth the most amazing collectable items, that had sentimental, heritage and financial values. Then the exciting journey: the items are taken to a real auction house environment and sold to raise money for a very special purpose. This winning format provided such editorially-rich content I was sure we could find ways outside the TV series of continuing to engage our fans and develop a following beyond broadcast.
The consequent commercial opportunities were obvious; Top ideas included a specialist and trusted auction destination, road-shows, valuations, gaming; all devised to appeal to enthusiasts of antiques and collectables, who make up a significant global community in their tens of millions.
Proof of concept was now needed: The journey into a detailed R&D project, took me far and wide, meeting publishers, event organisers, auctioneers, and high profile businesses in the space (Vectis Toys, Stanley Gibbons Stamps, Millers Guide, Chiswick Auctions, BBC Worldwide Events team, BBC Home and Antiques Magazine, Antique Trade Gazette, Value My Stuff) who all generously shared their knowledge, advice and support. They all recognised that Cash in the Attic was a hugely important and trusted brand; and agreed that with such an established audience Cash in the Attic.com was the bedrock for Leopard Films to harness a global community and launch a digital hub for the collectors’ community to meet, share and trade. And of course the whole thing was ultimately very good for the industry at large.
Based on the detailed research and our visionary board, Cash in the Attic.com got green lit.
During this period, the consumer adoption of apps, sophisticated interactive tech and the growing popularity of social networks such as FB, Twitter, Pinterest, all enhanced our confidence in our Cash in the Attic.com ambition. Yet the final piece of the jigsaw, now had to be put in place: who was going to take our plan and make it reality?
We needed to find a smart, savvy and highly-experienced digital specialist. Someone who had real business gravitas and who completely shared our passion for the subject. They also had to know the TV industry inside and out.
In June 2012, we found that person in the highly accomplished Martin Lowde. Formerly a commercial director at ITV, Martin was one of the industry pioneers in launching complimentary on-line spaces around TV brands, backed by viable business models. He had directed high-profile and hugely successful digital projects for Simon Fuller’s 19 group for American Idol, The Spice Girls and David Beckham among others.
As Martin joins the Argonon Group, we are now totally on track for an exciting period of growth in our digital output.
We have no doubt that in Martin’s hands, the next chapter of Cash in the Attic will prove to be both LOWDE and Proud!