Rob Corney, group MD at Bulldog Licensing, reveals his licensing plans for Yo-Kai Watch and why the boys’ market has been so strong for the company.
How has 2015 been for Yo-Kai Watch?
So far 2015 has been a phenomenal year for Yo-Kai Watch – it remains the number one brand in Japan, where the TV is broadcast on TV Tokyo, two Nintendo 3DS games have already been released with another coming at the end of this year, and there is a theatrical release on December 19th.
The brand has made €2 billion in retail sales in Japan alone, and has a wide merchandising programme there. The brand is currently launching in the US with the European rollout to come next year.
A lot of UK partners have been tracking the brand’s success in Japan for some time, and so there is already a lot of excitement around the property. We went into BLE with UK proposals already on the table and have since received more across various categories, with a number of other conversations in advanced stages. An a-list licensing programme will be in place for the UK by the end of this year, paving the way to success in 2016 and beyond.
How big do you think Yo-Kai Watch will be next year?
We are very excited to be building the licensing programme over the next year in time for the A/W launch. Together with VIZ Media Europe we will be working with the master toy partner Hasbro and gaming partner Nintendo, along with our future UK licensees, to build a cross category programme to enable fans to fully immerse themselves in the Yo-Kai World.
Product will tie in with the core collectable and will capture the fun and mischief of the TV show and game. We’ll be launching initial product alongside the TV and game launch, with full roll out coming through in 2017.
How big has the boys and men’s marketing space been for you?
The boys' market has always been strong for Bulldog brands and, over the years, we've helped to drive the success of huge licensing programmes such as DreamWorks Dragons and Plants vs. Zombies from EA, both of which have had a strong history and have strong futures ahead of them.
Alongside these partners, developing ranges for Rovio's Angry Birds as well as the huge opportunity of Yo-Kai Watch is a real privilege for the team here.
Are there any new areas you will be entering in the licensing space?
At the moment the only confirmed merchandise partners are Hasbro for master toy and Nintendo for the video games, so we plan to be entering a lot of new areas over the next year.
Target categories are apparel, nightwear and underwear, accessories, publishing, stationery and paper goods, BTS, party, food and more, and we already have proposals on the table covering most of these.
What does next year have in store for Yo-Kai Watch?
Much of next year will be the set up phase for Yo-Kai Watch in the UK; pitching and bringing on board new partners, range planning and product development, and working with retailers to ensure a strong launch for the property. We believe this property has truly enormous potential for the UK market, so 2016 is all about laying the right foundations to support that long-term growth.
Anything else you’d like to add?
We are currently in a number of conversations across all key categories, and would love to hear from potential partners.