The School of Illustration had invited Dylan Ang Beng Leong, founder of Safe Tree Sdn Bhd, a character-licensing company established in 2009 that owns Pocotee & Friends for a master sharing. Dylan, who is a graduate of The One Academy in Multimedia Design, together with his work partners shared with students on the “10 Years of Success Stories” of their company.
However, not everything was smooth sailing, especially in the early years when it started out as a designer management company. It faced financial difficulties, and it was not until four years later that it finally caught a big break. It landed a contract to feature in an art exhibition for superstar Jackie Chan’s movie, ‘Police Story 2013’, who loved their work so much so that he even sought them out for his other movies. Later on, Dylan and his team created Pocotree & Friends and gradually found success.
Pocotree & Friends’ eccentric ensemble of lovable cartoon-like characters consist of Pocotee, the hot-tempered big-eyed protagonist; Mr Jiu, a timid banana who has a crush on Pocotee; Please J, a woman who uses the word ‘please’ excessively; BearBoss, Pocotee’s gluttonous and demanding employer; Mao, Pocotee’s pet cat who only eats salmon; Hapimo, the Malayan tapir and several others with equally quirky backstories.
The successful and well-loved collection has gained a large following in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan and others, having collaborated with more than 50 movie titles and international movie stars like Jackie Chan, Donnie Yen, Andy Lau, Louis Koo and Sandra Ng. Safe Tree has also released Pocotee & Friends WeChat stickers that amassed millions of downloads in 14 countries around the world including Hong Kong, Macau, the US, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Brunei and India.
With its motto, “Every stroke of the brush reflects our passion, devotion and dedication towards our dream!”, Pocotree & Friends has received numerous awards and recognitions both locally and overseas. It won Silver in the Copyright Category of the Malaysia’s National Intellectual Property Award 2016, Best Brand of the Year in the International Prestige Brand Award 2017 and Nobel Laureates Brand Excellence Award 2018 just to name a few. With all the success, they never forget to contribute back to society. Every year, they collaborate on CSR campaigns such as Shark Savers, We Hug Tapir, Lions Club International, Elephant Parade and more.
Safe Tree consists of a team of five people, and Dylan shared how teamwork is very important and that it is almost impossible to accomplish everything alone, saying that everyone has their own job scope and together they make it work. The speakers encouraged the students to start building their intellectual property (IP) and portfolio, using platforms such as Instagram and Facebook to gain fans and subsequently job offers from clients.
The speakers also gave useful advice on copyright and trademark. They mentioned that copyright and trademark are assets as well as value of the brand, advising students to always leave a copyright mark after finishing a drawing to safeguard their creations. All in all, it was an insightful session where students also received Pocotree & Friends merchandise freebies for posing questions.