Hong Kong homegrown brands and cartoon characters are making use of the Hong Kong Licensing Show to expand their reach into new product segments and international markets. McMug and McDull, two piglet characters born about 13 years ago with a touch of local humour, are gaining a wider international and local audience through international licensing partners. Licensing business has taken the piglet characters and their friends through China and Southeast Asia and into Europe and France in particular. The piglets adorn merchandise from books, coffee mugs, soft toys and music boxes to toiletries, kitchenware, key chains and stationery. Toby Chan, managing director of Regent Lane, the characters' licensing agent, said the company would increase merchandise in household items, expand into mobile phone accessories and extend the licensing business to more media. The latest drive is a film production McDull, Prince de la Bun now showing in local cinemas. It is a follow-up to the previous production My Life as McDull, which was a box office hit and winner of awards including the Cristal for best feature at last year's Annecy International Animated Film Festival in Cannes. McDull has captivated the French market with My Life as McDull screening successfully in France. Mr Chan said licensed McDull products were now available at selected retail shops in France, Spain and Italy. Songs about the characters would be produced and released by a licensed music company in those markets. Mr Chan said the key to success was a combination of hard work, persistence and luck. The characters had gone through a difficult beginning because few people were willing to risk supporting them. He said it took time for people to recognise the characters, and the firm had put much effort into building up commercial products through licensing over the years. He anticipated securing business at the Licensing Show and identifying potential buyers and partners among visitors to the Summer Sourcing Show for Gifts, Houseware and Toys, which was being held at the same time. 'It is our first presence in the licensing show. We hope to reach new licensing partners at the event,' he said. Ah Chung, a well-known local artist, looks at the licensing business from a different perspective. He said developing his art into commercial products was a tool to increase the popularity and influence of his work in everyday life. Drawing most of his inspirations from daily experience, Ah Chung hoped his art would add colour to people's lives. Agnes Fung, director of Art Licensing, the licensing agent of Ah Chung's paintings since 2000, said: 'With the downturn of Hong Kong's economy in the past few years, people were not happy. Ah Chung's art works, which carry positive messages about life, tend to attract people's attention.'