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Paw-some Reporter Mighty Mike gets the Inside Scoop on Pets and the Pandemic!

Paw-some Reporter Mighty Mike gets the Inside Scoop on Pets and the Pandemic!

Star of his own show and bone-a-fide member of the puparazzi, Mighty Mike quizzed three licensing execs on the impact their pets had on them during the lockdown, and what they predict the last two years means for the pet licensing market

As life slowly returns to normal after two years of intermittent confinement, pets have taken on an increased importance in people’s lives. With spending much more time at home during the pandemic, people everywhere have sought out creative ways to keep sane, happy and entertained while on lockdown, and pets have played a central role in that goal.

Here to explore the impact the pandemic has had on pets and their humans is Mighty Mike, the world’s most sophisticated pug and the star of his own show Mighty Mike, airing on CITV, Cartoon Network and Boomerang worldwide, Universal Kids, France Televisions, Super RTL, Tencent, among others. As a loyal pug stationed at his house 24/7 – together with co-pets Fluffy the Kitten, athletic turtles trio Aramis, Athos and Portos and the neighbour’s bewitchingly cute dog Iris – Mike knows a lot about how to keep busy when confined to your home.

Mike asked Kaye Hunter, This is Iris, about her experiences.

Tell us about your dog…

Moose wasn’t technically a pandemic puppy, but he has spent the majority of his life in lockdown. When my mum passed away in 2019, Moose was a present to myself to try and help deal with my grief. Despite Moose being my 5th Miniature Schnauzer, I have never had a character quite like this little guy! It quickly became apparent that I was no longer able to go to the toilet by myself and every visit to the bin to take out the rubbish meant I was met on my return like I had left Moose alone for a year and he’d thought he was never going to see me again! He injected a bit of humour into Zoom meetings by parking himself in the background and attending to the cleanliness of his nether regions!

What did you discover about your pet during lockdown?

I discovered that Moose had no respect for privacy or personal space and basically just saw me as being there for his entertainment. But I also discovered that this funny little dog is the most loving of little souls and I sometimes get a bit overwhelmed at how wholeheartedly and completely this little guy loves me.

Were they happy you were home all the time or do they want some alone time back?

Moose was happier than a bag of very happy things in their very happy place at me being home all the time.

Has your pet helped inspire new ideas for licensing?

Yes, but they are currently in creative development!

Did you see pet licensing grow or idle during the pandemic?

As a company, we definitely saw it grow as we were busy championing Mighty Mike… you!

Did you see uptick in pet licensing, products for pets that reflected increase in ownership?

I felt there was an increase in smaller, independent companies producing pet products and accessories. But I still think it’s a major sector waiting to be filled! Pet owners generally have a high proportion of expendable income and think nothing of kitting out their pets in coordinated ranges of accessories and products.

Mike also grilled Lisa Hryniewicz, Koko Rose Media, on her thoughts.

What did you discover about your animals during lockdown?

I discovered that a pet can save your daughter’s sanity – and possibly her life! (Anyone who was cooped up with a teenager during lockdown knows what I am talking about). In this case the teenager was 14-16 and the pet was her horse, Astro. Luckily we were able to go to the stables every day as horses counted as caring for livestock as well as exercise.

Were they happy you were home all the time?

Well don’t tell my daughter’s school, but at-home learning provided ample opportunity to sneak out on a school day to visit Astro more frequently than normal.

Did you see uptick in pet licensing and products for pets?

We definitely spent more on the horse than normal during the pandemic as we were at home a lot where shopping online became a more frequent pastime and we had extra income from not socializing, eating out or traveling.  Astro became a central focus in our lives and – like us – we indulged him with pet toys to keep him happy. Although we discovered that joke rubber chickens work just as well. One of the horses at the yard became a YouTube sensation swinging a rubber chicken in circles non-stop. Quite the picture! There are opportunities for sponsorship in the horse industry as well.

My daughter’s new horse Krystal actually had a career as a spokeshorse for several clothing and equipment brands – with her own Instagram account!

Will you be adjusting your business practices or company policy to include pets?

I actually have. Being around horses outdoors during this difficult period has been a life-changing sanctuary and escape. So that we both now have a horse (so yes, we bought some “pets” during pandemic!) I now get up much earlier to include time at the yard every day, and still get in the hours at work.

Has your pet helped inspire new ideas for licensing?

Absolutely, it may involve a rubber chicken.

Ian Downes, Director at Start Licensing and fellow animal lover was also quizzed by Mike.

What did you discover about your pet during lockdown?

I have a 6-year-old whippet Tess. I think lockdown confirmed to me that Tess is a loyal and reliable companion. She helped get us to get out and about regularly. We also moved during lockdown and she helped us find new walks around our new home. She likes to have a good gallop – I also realised very early on never to challenge a whippet to a race.

Did she like you being at home all the time, or did she crave some me-time’??

I think we have a good working relationship and Tess respects the Room of Zoom. As well as being super quick whippets are super sleepers so most of the time she sleeps while I work!

Will you be changing the way you work to accommodate your dog?

I think I will be looking at opportunities to take Tess to meetings – I work from home but go to a lot of meetings and hopefully she can join me at a few al fresco meetings.

Has this given you new ideas for licensing?

I think having a pet has helped me understand the pet market better and got me thinking about ideas within the sector.

Did you see pet licensing grow during the pandemic?

We actually signed a deal with Urban Pup for Wallace & Gromit pet accessories including a Wallace dog sweater and sou’wester so for us it was definitely a period of growth. We are already talking about adding new products to their license.

Did you see an uptick in pet licensing, products for pets that reflected increase in ownership

I definitely think there is scope for more licensing in the pet market but as always

I think licensing has to be deployed in an appropriate and authentic way. I have noticed some fun products like character-themed aquariums which are targeted at children as a kind of ‘my first aquarium’. Licensing could have more potential to help educate children about pet care and animal welfare.

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