Why the exciting world of Shakespeare-branded products could be about to take the continent by storm

Graham Lanktree
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Pack of souvenir Shakespeare playing cards, anyone? (Source: Getty)

A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse! — or a bar of soap, anyway...

Yes, to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, the UK's export authority has pointed out that toiletries and home furnishings branded with the Bard’s name have a "huge opportunity for global promotion".

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is getting help from UK Trade and Investment to find global markets for its new line of Shakespeare Inspired bath crèmes, body lotions, and boxed gift sets launched in late March.

“At the moment we’ve got some new licences,” said Sue Croxford, head of retail at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, citing the launch today in their Stratford-upon-Avon gift shop of a line of £2 commemorative coins from the Royal Mint.

The Trust also has a new licence with Royal Crown Derby for fine China paperweights, and Croxford said it was in negotiations with an American agency and another in South Korea to licence its brand.

“Shakespeare is worldwide,” said Croxford, adding the 400th anniversary is an opportunity to leverage the brand and push forward the Trust’s long-term licencing programme.

UKTI has been helping to promote it and gave the Trust an opportunity to appeal to European buyers at the Paris Museum Expressions trade fair in April with a space at its stand.

Still “it’s early days our licencing programme,” said Croxford, who said the buying bonanza got started in 2014 with a line of luxury pens made by Italy’s Omas.

“Initial reaction to the products has, as you would expect, been very favourable,” said Parminder Hayer, of UKTI West Midlands, “and we are only too pleased to work with the Trust to help it maximise its export potential.”

Over the past 400 years the plays of Shakespeare have been translated into some 80 languages.

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