Valentina La Macchia, Director of Mondo tells Licensing.biz why a trip to the firm's stand this year is well worth it.
What are you showcasing at this year’s Licensing Expo in Las Vegas?
We have a number of important properties to highlight. Notable among them is Heidi, Bienvenida a Casa, Mondo’s first live action show, produced by Mondo TV Iberoamerica and Alianzas Producciones. Heidi, Bienvenida a Casa follows the adventures of a country girl in the city, bringing together comedy, humour and music in a moving and charming update of the classic novel. We also have a summit on the day before the Expo starts to discuss licensing and broadcasting plans for the show.
YooHoo & Friends is a new series, in which five cute friends help endangered animals. The show is based on the globally successful line of Aurora World YooHoo & Friends plush toys, more than 80 million of which have been sold since the worldwide launch of the line in 2007. We see this as a very strong licensing prospect.
This is also the case for Invention Story, a 3D and HD animated comedy and action series for 5 -9-year-olds that will offer a marvellous combination of fun and learning through the story of an intelligent, thoughtful and creative fox who, in each episode, comes up with a new invention that amazes and delights every member of the rabbit population in Carrot Town, his adopted home. Everyone, that is, except the jealous mayor. This has enormous potential across both play and learning-related licensed product.
We also have exciting news about Robot Trains, an animated action adventure show for 4-7-year-olds produced by South Korean content and marketing company CJ E&M. We act as TV distributor and licensing agent in a number of territories for the series, which has already secured a number of licenses. Robot Trains is set in Train World, where all the citizens are trains. However, among the residents there are special trains that can transform into robots! Series one is coming soon, series two is already planned and we have exciting news about our growing role supporting this production.
Why is 2017 a big year for you?
A number of major new productions, such as YooHoo & Friends and Invention Story, which entered production this year. Such is the enormous potential of Invention Story across both licensing and broadcasting that Henan York Animation and Mondo TV have already committed to five series.
This year also sees further consolidation of the success of Sissi the Young Empress, the adventures of a free-spirited empress who resists etiquette and the duties of the court to follow her heart. It’s a big hit with its target audience of young girls, has sold into more than 35 countries, and a second series is being launched this year.
Heidi, Bienvenida a Casa is already making an impact in the Latin American market, where it was launched on Nickelodeon in March — and there is also a strong licensing interest. Exim Colombia will manage the property licensing rights in Colombia, Ecuador and Central America, while Exim Brazil will take care of the Brazilian market. Smilehood will manage the licensing rights in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia and Agosin in Chile and Perú. The US market will be managed by Surge Licensing.
Regarding Mexico Mondo TV, has secured an agreement with TV Atzeca.
The show is expected to attract strong broadcast interest in other regions in the coming months — and more series are already planned.
What demand have you seen for Mondo TV?
Many production houses have approached us for co-productions because they have seen the quality of our work — and its diversity. Our portfolio makes it clear that we can meet licensee needs among a number of different target age groups. Our experience, our skill and our adaptability are, I believe, the reason that we can attract production partners for projects as different as an animated historical drama, a live action show and even a science-based comedy adventure set in a town run by rabbits!
Mondo TV also has a strong presence in the Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American territories through Mondo TV Iberoamerica, which distributes Mondo TV’s animated catalogue in the region and was involved in the making of Heidi. With our co-production of the series Heidi, Bienvenida a Casa we began a new era, confirming plans for expansion and growth with the creation of a new production studio: Mondo TV Producciones Canarias. Based in Tenerife, the new studio will act as a producer of animation series and eventually, live action. All of these developments are driven by growing demand for our work.
What are you hoping to achieve at this year’s show?
We’re obviously putting a lot of promotional effort behind Heidi, which we see as having enormous international potential — hence the licensing summit. Our initial goals for Heidi are the international development of Heidi's licensing and merchandising programme, starting with Latin America and Brazil, where many strategic territories now have licensing representation.
We also want to consolidate the licensing programme for YooHoo & Friends — a number of licenses have already been awarded — and hope to be able to announce both a master toy and a master publishing deal for Invention Story.
Last but not least, we plan to build on growing licensee interest in Robot Trains, which is already attracting licensees in many categories. The aim here will be to extend a licensing programme that, in the Italian market, has already signed Preziosi Food for a variety of food items, including Easter eggs, surprise eggs and spreadable cream, Grani & Partners Preziosi Group for collectible Robot Trains products, and Ravensburger for puzzles and memory games.
I’ve already mentioned inventions Story as both a play and learning property. We expect to be discussing key licenses such as toys and publishing as we establish a framework for a strong licensing programme.
What can we expect to see from you this year and beyond?
The consolidation of our partnerships with licensors — Aurora for YooHoo, CJ for Robot Trains, York for Invention Story and Alianzas Producciones for Heidi — and the continuing development of successful licensing and broadcasting programmes through these partnerships. We’re also looking forward to future alliances with new partners as we plan for 2020 and 2021.
Considering that Mondo TV is active internationally how does it work in the market?
We have a number of offices and sister companies — like Mondo TV Iberoamerica — around the world. In cases where we are not physically present on the ground we have agency agreements; as I mentioned, a number of these are supporting Heidi Bienvenida a Casa across Latin America, Brazil and the US.