SpongeBob, Daria and Garfield join forces to tell Adland: Don’t Say Can*t

SpongeBob, Daria and Garfield join forces to tell Adland: Don’t Say Can*t

Industry creatives are fed up with being told they can’t use fictional characters in their work.

Over the years, as experts in licensing, we have heard first-hand how frustrated creatives feel when their scripts with characters get pulled because of feedback that it will be too expensive or too difficult. Who wouldn’t be disappointed at having the chance to work with a childhood hero taken away from them!

The new campaign sees famous characters take a stand against these naysayers, telling the industry ‘Don’t Say Can*t’. We wanted to show the industry that they should see endless possibility when they think of character licensing, rather than perceived obstacles. After all, if we can do it, so can they.

To convey this message, as licensing agents for some of the biggest studios in the world, we were able to enlist a stellar cast including SpongeBob SquarePants, Garfield, Grumpy Bear from the Care Bears, 90s icon Daria, a Ninja Turtle, Beavis from Beavis and Butthead and Mr. Grumpy from Mr. Men Little Miss.

The ‘Don’t Say Can*t’ mantra is inspired by the discovery that 100% of industry creatives who have worked on campaigns with characters or clips had experienced the IP not going ahead due to perceived challenges of licensing characters.

Will Grave and Sander Vos were the creative minds behind the campaign, with designs by Xavier Segars. Will explains, “After 10 years in this industry, Sander and I have probably heard a thousand ‘cant’s’ in meetings before an idea is even given the chance to flourish.”

The problem is that when presented with a script featuring a fictional character, producers often don’t know where to even start. Fictional characters are 13.4 times less likely to appear in UK advertising than celebrities, so it’s not surprising that producers tend to have less experience in this very niche area. As a result, adland naturally tends to approach character licensing with a lot of hesitancy, if not actively avoiding it altogether. They fear that the process will be too complicated, too out of the box, or too expensive. Not so.

However, rights holders are a lot more open to their characters being used in advertising than people think. And whilst licensing fees can sometimes be a factor, there really is a character for every budget.

For this campaign, it was Will and Sander’s first time working with fictional characters and it is our hope the process has inspired them to consider using characters more in their work in the future. Will told us, “Working with 90s classic Daria was an amazing nostalgic blast from the past. Seeing also the likes of a Grumpy Care Bear and SpongeBob fronting a ‘to the naysayers’ Nike-esque campaign was a lot of fun to develop, empowering them after being left out on the sidelines.”

Don’t Say Can*t is now running across digital channels. The campaign is supported by a Don’t Say Can*t manifesto with a message from Born and all creatives.