“When thinking of a name for our new agency, we were looking at ways to combine COP and TK,” Knepfer explains. “TKO, or ‘technical knockout,’ rolled out, and we immediately loved what the term ‘knockout’ stood for. Our agency is responsive, strategic yet tactical, and together we are a real powerhouse.”
Both Postal and Knepfer have extensive experience that they bring to the joint agency. After having worked for MGM, Turner Broadcasting and Sesame Street, Postal started CopCorp Licensing in 1996. CopCorp’s many successes include Jim Benton’s “It’s Happy Bunny™,” which CopCorp built into a billion-dollar global brand at retail as the first in a new genre of trend licensing catering to tweens and teens. “Pink Cookie™ started as a single sock design, and CopCorp built it into over $75 million at retail in a few short years,” Postal says. “We understand the junior trend consumer better than anybody.”
Knepfer’s experience includes Disney, Sesame Street, American Greetings Properties, Chorion and Iconix/Peanuts. She started TK Brand Group in 2010 working with clients such as Nokia in the children’s mobile app space and representing a variety of properties, including the tween brand, lil’ panda™.
“Soon after forming Knockout, we transitioned lil’panda to work on it together,” Knepfer says. “The brand has had continuous placement of girls’ t-shirts at Target, thanks to Evy of California. Now, Gund is launching plush, and Enesco is introducing an extensive line of gift items – all in time for this holiday. So, lil’panda won’t be lil’ for much longer!”
One of the first clients Knockout secured was NBC Universal’s “Downton Abbey™.” “I was a fan of the show long before its popularity exploded,” Postal explains. “Now the show is somewhat of a pop culture phenomenon, bringing new, younger audiences into PBS and breaking records as the most watched drama in PBS’ history!
“Wonder-Shirts was one of our first Downton Abbey licensees,” Postal continues. “They are an ideal company that brings creativity and the right distribution to reach ‘Downton Abbey’ fans. ‘Downton Abbey’ has a devoted and discerning fan base, so we are selective about the companies entrusted with the license.”
Knockout also represents Facebook celebrity “Boo – The World’s Cutest Dog.”™ “Boo is not only a Facebook phenom, but he has three best-selling books by Chronicle, a successful plush line with Gund, adorable t-shirts by Evy of California, puzzles, cell phone cases, jewelry – and the list goes on,” Knepfer says. “We started with Urban Outfitters, and now Boo products can be found at Macy’s, Claire’s, Justice, Target and Walmart – just to name a few.”
What sets Knockout apart from other agencies are Postal and Knepfer’s complementary skill sets, experience and relationships in the industry. “I like to think of Knockout as a licensing agency for a new generation,” Knepfer says. “There are a lot of traditionalists in the licensing, manufacturing and retail worlds, but with media habits changing, it is important to be in touch with today’s growing consumer base. The knowledge and expertise we have in the mobile and digital space is unmatched. This is critical not only for new properties, but also for marketing and extending existing brands.”
“We also are simply the best when it comes to launching non-media brands into the young adult fashion world,” Postal adds. “We’re obviously enjoying great success with our entertainment and publishing properties, but we’ve also proven we can use licensing as a launch pad for new properties that do not have the benefit of a major studio or media company behind them.”
Postal and Knepfer’s clients extend further into adult properties with “Downton Abbey” – and in some cases, very adult properties, such as the sensational erotic novel, “Fifty Shades of Grey.”™ “For ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ we’ve licensed apparel, accessories, and yes, even sex toys,” Postal explains. “It’s a very focused program that stays true to author E. L. James’ vision.”
How does the newly formed agency corner such titans of popular culture? “This is a relatively small industry, and we have both been in the industry a long time,” Knepfer explains.
“Dare I call us vets?” she adds. “Our network is quite large and our reputations are very positive. Together, we cast a wide net and are fortunate to get recommended by a lot of different people, including past colleagues or even existing licensees.”
A Knockout Team
In the normal course of business, the Knockout team is always in the midst of the action. “Everyone at Knockout is involved through the whole process,” Postal says. “We not only work with the licensors to help manage the brand, we assist them with product development and even selling to retail. An agency such as ours is most helpful when it comes to pulling multiple licensees together to make brand statements at retail. We’re big on communication internally and externally.”
“We really service the accounts,” Knepfer says. “We work at lightning pace. The culture here is very collaborative and inclusive. That’s very important to us as we build our agency – and it makes us extremely efficient as well.”
One of the biggest challenges for most agencies is going toe-to-toe with media behemoths like Disney or Warner Brothers that take up so much retail space. “We have to overcome that every day,” Postal remarks. “We often have to be more creative and find more circuitous routes to success.”
Knepfer says the formation of Knockout Licensing has been a welcome addition to the industry. “What our combined forces with Knockout brings is additive experience,” she declares. “Clients benefit because it’s like having two agencies in one – combining licensing and sales with brand management and strategy.
“I think that the formation of Knockout took a lot of people by surprise in a very positive way,” Knepfer continues. “We’ve been very fortunate to get some very high-profile clients onboard fairly quickly. Plus, we have a lot of new things in the works that make us all very excited about the future of Knockout.”