Interview with Veronique Culliford on Branding the Smurfs

by . July 30th, 2013

The success of a global brand is not only dependent on how the product was  made but how well it is presented to the rest of the world. The concept of producing films from comic book characters is a popular trend in the entertainment industry today.

One amazing example of success in terms of movie productions adapted from comic books is the 2011 global hit animation film “The Smurfs“. Produced by Sony Pictures Animation, the 3D animated movie was based from the Belgian comic and television franchise “The Smurfs” created by Peyo (pen name of Pierre Culliford) in 1958. The film received mixed reviews from critics but still pulled out more than $560 million worldwide appealing to all walks of moviegoers and fans of the iconic characters.

The Smurfs (2011)

What we love about the franchise is how the people behind it has successfully promoted the brand in the global community. YTD got the rare opportunity to talk to Veronique Culliford, daughter of Peyo, and the one behind The Smurfs merchandising around the world. In the short interview below, Veronique shared us some notes about branding the iconic character and how it influenced its global success.


Veronique Culliford


YTD: How do you handle the responsibility of representing The Smurfs brand in the global community?

VERONIQUE: IMPS, the official worldwide licensor of the Smurfs is based in Belgium and we are supported by licensing agents around the world to represent and protect the brand in their territories. Our business is built on 3 business units: audiovisual, book publishing and merchandising and promotions. Through the TV series, our book publishing program and the large number of merchandising partners we have (globally and locally), we’re able to create Smurf universes worldwide. And leading promotional partners use the brand to bring their message across and retailers increase their market share and sales by using our characters for loyalty promotions. On top of all of this, we also support the brand through different events, meet & greets, etc.


Global Smurfs Day in China

June 22, 2013 – Smurfs invasion in Beijing Great Wall in celebration of Global Smurfs Day 2013.

Global Smurfs Day in France

June 22, 2013 – Paris, France: Global Smurfs Day 2013 celebration.

Global Smurfs Day in the Philippines

June 22, 2013 – Philippines: Global Smurfs Day 2013 celebration.

YTD: As a guardian of a phenomenal icon, would you mind sharing with us what makes the brand appeal to the rest of the world?

VERONIQUE: All Smurfs look the same, but they all have a different character, so people will always find a Smurf to identify themselves with and the white and blue colors are accepted by all cultures. On top of that, people love the Smurfs because they are cute, funny, but also because they represent important values like respect, friendship, teamwork, respect for nature. Timeless values that are important for all cultures.

Some promotional partners even use the Smurfs’ values to bring across an educational message.


Global Smurfs Day in Belgium

June 22, 2013 – Brussels, Belgium: Veronique Culliford, daughter of Smurfs creator Peyo, at the Global Smurfs Day 2013 celebration in Brussels.


YTD: What is the most fun part in promoting the Smurfs?

VERONIQUE: It’s very simple, we love the fact that the kids enjoy the Smurf moments and that they make them laugh. They create many happy moments and they always put a smile on children’s faces.


Global Smurfs Day in South Korea

June 22, 2013 – Seoul, South Korea: Global Smurfs Day 2013 celebration.


YTD: One value/lesson that your father have taught you that helped you attaining the success?

VERONIQUE: To remain consistent, to stick with a strategy and go with it. It’s better to refuse merchandising proposals that don’t quite fit the image that we want to give of the Smurfs, even if they represent significant revenue. We need to stay true to our little blue friends and to protect the values that they hold dear.


Peyo aka Pierre Culliford and the father of the Smurfs.

Peyo aka Pierre Culliford and the father of the Smurfs.


YTD: What do you expect from the upcoming movie sequel?

VERONIQUE: We are obviously hoping for the same result, that families all over the world will enjoy it as much as the first movie. But even Papa Smurf doesn’t have a crystal ball so we’ll just have to cross our fingers and wait and see!

 The Smurfs 2

The Smurfs 2 movie will come to theaters tomorrow in the US and selected countries.



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