Wednesday 2 January 2019

Branding - Catching Them Young

Court Room at the Bangkok KidZania
Author ProjectManhattan
Licence Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

On Friday, the son of my former ward celebrated his 8th birthday. For a birthday treat his parents and I took him to the London KidZania which describes itself as "An Indoor City Run by Kids." Located in the Westfield shopping centre in Shepherds Bush it consists of 75,000 square feet of replica child size shops and offices on two floors where children aged between 4 and 14 can try their hands at all sorts of occupations.

Children and their accompanying adults pass through immigration where they are issued with wristbands. Activities are paid for with kidZos which is KidZania's private currency though food and drink have to be purchased in sterling.  Activities for adults are limited to queueing with children, watching their role play, consuming refreshments and riding a bus.

Like a lot of children's attractions, KidZania is a transatlantic concept, but from Mexico rather than the United  States.  The first KidZania opened as  La Ciudad de los NiƱos (Kids' City) in Mexico City in 1999.  La Ciudad was rebranded as Kidzania in 2006 when a second children's city was opened in Monterey. The Mexican company KidZania S.A.P.I. de C.V. has registered the word KIDZANIA as an EU trade mark for a wide range of goods and services in classes 6, 16, 20, 21, 25, 41, 42 and 43 with effect from 3 Jan 2003. It also holds many other trade marks and trade mark applications relating to KidZania around the world.

The company has franchised KidZania theme parks in 20 countries, mainly in Latin America (Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica and Mexico) and Asia (India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates).  So far, there are none in the United States and only three in Europe (Lisbon, London and Moscow) bit that is about to change with planned openings in Chicago, Dallas, New York and Paris.

Activities offered at the London KidZania are branded by Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust, Aljazeera Media Network, the Bank of England, British Airways, Cadbury, Costa, Dorsett International, Eat Natural, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Global, H & M, Hamptons, Innocent, K-Market, Metro, Middlesex County Cricket Club, Mission Deli, Nintendo, People's Dispensary for Sick Animals, Roland, Snazaroo, The Original Tour and other organizations.  Alder Hey hospital, for example, allows children to role play as baby care nurses, paramedics and even surgeons.  Cadbury instructs them in chocolate making. 

About the only role plays for which no provision was made in London was the law which I would have found strange as a child for I knew that I wanted to be a barrister from a very early age. However, Wikipedia reports that there is a court at the Bangkok KidZania and there are others in other cities. 

The investment of some of those brand owners is impressive.  British Airways, for example, has contributed part of an aircraft fuselage and flight simulation equipment and many members of the KidZania staff wear British Airways uniforms.  Clearly, those brand holders see marketing or other opportunities in KidZania.

Our 8 year old tried his hand at print and TV journalism with Metro and Aljazeera, chocolate making with Cadbury and flight training with British Airways among other activities.  There was quite a lot of queueing for one or other of his parents during which time I relaxed in Costa's coffee shops. I also watched him perform in Aljazeera's TV studio and I have a new keyring with a photo of the little boy in an airline pilot's uniform.

Anyone wishing to discuss this article or the legal protection of branding generally by trade mark registration, the law of passing off, geographical indications or otherwise should call me on 020  7404 5252 during usual office hours or send me a message through my contact page.  I should also like to wish all my readers a very happy New Year.

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