What are your expectations for BLE this year? What will Fox mainly focus on at the show?
We’re feeling extremely positive about Brand Licensing Europe 2016. We will be previewing a broad mix of new TV and movie content, iconic film classics including 12 Marilyn Monroe movies, and sharing details of the continued expansion of The Simpsons with new lines, new categories and new demographics that all reinforce the brand’s wide appeal.
Our new TV content includes the award-winning animated series Bob’s Burgers. Hot on the heels of its success in the US where the show is now onto its 100th epsiode, the Bob’s Burgers UK roll-out is now offically underway. The enduring popularity of Family Guy and its very similar core audience of 18 to 35 year-old males will be invaluable in helping Bob’s Burgers mirror its Stateside appeal over here.
In addition, we’ll be showcasing the new live action animated comedy, Son of Zorn from executive producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street) and featuring the voice of Jason Sudeikis (The Last Man on Earth, We’re the Millers), which has just premiered in the US.
Ice Age: Collision Course was a mammoth (sorry!) success for us in the summer and we are readying for the home entertainment release of that this Christmas. BLE will see us sharing more details on new partnerships that will guarantee an evergreen future for this beloved property.
We’ll also be presenting incredible new properties including upcoming film releases Ferdinand, War for the Planet of the Apes, Alien: Covenant, The Greatest Showman, Predator and Alita: Battle Angel.
How has this year been for The Simpsons in the licensing space?
It has been a great year for The Simpsons and we have forged some fantastic new licensing partnerships that will continue to drive a new audience and somewhat different consumer audience to the brand.
Earlier this year we opened the first ever Simpsons store in Beijing. The development of this one-of-a-kind retail environment offers a unique engagement with the brand. We have launched over a dozen stores already in China and building out more each and every week.
Not only is The Simpsons able to reach a board range of demographics, but also, the show’s rich universe of characters and content gives us the ability to segment creative to target different audiences and retailers. So, by mapping our fan life cycle and coupling that with ongoing consumer trends we can, and are, successfully attracting new entrants to the franchise. Alongside the classic creative, for instance, the launch of the ‘Made in Springfield’ baby licensing programme aims to attract those that have grown up with the show, but who are now parents themselves
We’ll also soon be revealing a whole host of new deals to target fashion conscious teens and young adults using a new, highly stylised graphic-led guide. To engage this audience, we’ve focused on a selection of the show’s secondary characters such as Krusty the Clown and Itchy & Scratchy, who have cult appeal for that discerning youth demographic.
Moving forward, how do you plan to use licensing deals to balance engaging new fans of The Simpsons with those that have grown up with the show?
It’s definitely something we have had to give a lot of thought to. The Simpsons is in its 28th season and this gives us a great advantage because we have so much material and content to work with. We are able to create some really interesting product ranges and the undeniable heritage of the brand engenders trust and confidence amongst licensees and retailers.
At BLE we will be unveiling a number of new high-fashion youth apparel ranges which will include casual footwear, luxury street wear, accessories and loungewear.
The brand is enjoying great success in this market, for example Skinny Dip’s Krusty the Clown range was recently named ‘Best Licensed Giftware Range‘ at the UK Licensing Awards 2016 and this month sees the launch of a second stylish collection called ‘Simpsons Undressed‘. The new range will include phone cases, backpacks and travel acccessories and Skinny Dip will host a launch event this october in their London stores, before it becomes available in Selfridges, Urban Outfitters and Topshop.
Working with great partners allows us to be very creative in producing highly stylised product lines that will appeal to original fans, while continuing to keep the brand ‘cool’ and exciting to new ones.
It has been a big year for Ice Age, with the release of the new film. How have partners responded to the brand this year and what deals are in place for the immediate future for Ice Age in the licensing space?
The success of Ice Age: Collision Course brings the total lifetime global box office of the franchise to over $3bn. So it’s a massive, evergreen brand for us and we’re currently gearing up for the release of the film on DVD and Blu Ray at Christmas. We’ve just unveiled a number of exciting partnerships for the franchise and we’ve got several more in the pipeline too.
Last month saw the launch an extensive promotion with Chipita that is running until spring 2017 across 18 markets in the Central and Eastern Europe region. The partnerships feature Ice Age: Collision Course themed packaging across the Chipicao baked croissants, biscuits and cakes range and each comes with a collectible Tazo premium.
This Autumn leading Italian supermarket chain, Esselunga, has chosen Ice Age to be part of their annual Community Program for Schools. The loyalty campaign is now running across the chain’s network of 150+ supermarkets and superstores with shoppers rewarded with a promotional product.
In a first of its kind, we’ve also signed a deal with Les Carroz - one of the most popular family ski resorts in the Alps. Ice Age will be entertaining thousands of families in a cool branded experience during the winter 2016/17 ski season. It’s already looking fantastic and will include a dedicated Ice Age Zone where children can enjoy après ski activities including sledging and rubber rings, branded ski runs and arches, and skiers can purchase a range of products including, plush and toys, too.
Next spring will also see us launching the first Ice Age baby programme that will lovingly draw on the original pencil sketches, for a softer look and feel to create a point of difference at retail. These are just a few of the many products and programs going on across the region.
Family Guy has moved to ITV2 in the UK. Will this have an impact on the UK licensing programme for the show?
Family Guy began airing on ITV2 in February this year, along with Seth Macfarlane comedies American Dad, The Cleveland Show and Bordertown. As the UK’s biggest digital channel, this new broadcast partnership has welcomed a new generation of Family Guy fans among 16 to 34 year olds. In turn, this audience profile generates new interest in the consumer products programme and sits alongside the original core fans who are now older and present a commercial opportunity for Father’s Day.
Our new master gift licensee Zak Designs is developing gift ranges for Father’s Day and Christmas, along with apparel licensees Somerbond and Poetic Gem.
Bob’s Burgers is gathering pace. For those in the UK that may still be new to the show, what is the crux of the brand and what plans are in place with regards to licensing?
Bob’s Burgers is an animated series about a man called Bob Belcher, his family and a burger joint. Bob and his quirky family have big ideas about burgers, but fall short on service and sophistication. Despite the greasy counters, lousy location and dearth of customers, Bob and his family are determined to make Bob’s “grand re-re-re-opening” a success.
The show has a loyal following among millennials who love its irreverent, off-beat humour. We have high expectations for Bobs Burgers and feel that our track record with Family Guy will be of huge benefit to us in helping create a very strong programme of licensed products.
We have just started in the UK with a range of adult t-shirts from Trademark Products now available from HMV, Amazon, Primark and Pennies. GB Eye is launching a gift line with listings confirmed on Amazon and at HMV and Forbidden Planet. There are the other deals in the pipeline that we will announce in due course.
What can you tell us about plans for the Marilyn Monroe movies?
Fox Consumer Products holds the rights to 12 Fox Marilyn Monroe movies, including How to Marry a Millionaire, Monkey Business, As Young as You Feel and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The scenes and images sourced directly from the films are a huge part of her lasting, iconic status, which is as relevant and aspirational today as it has ever been.
Each movie helped shape her unique appeal as Hollywood’s most glamorous leading lady and embodies certain timeless elements of opulence and glamour that continue to chime with women today. We have developed individual collections based on each of the 12 movies that encompass designer apparel, fragrance and accessories for women aged 35 and over.
We’ve just unveiled new category launch partners; Designer Fragrances is launching a How to Marry a Millionaire fragrance and fragrance gift sets. Luxury beachwear label MC2 Saint Barth is producing a range of swimwear, beach bags and t-shirts for SS17.
Bierdronka, Poland’s biggest retailer, launched their own label range of luxury chocolate and ice cream inspired by the films and will be expanding their line with gift biscuit tins for Christmas 2016, and health and beauty products for 2017.
Son of Zorn was one of the best things we saw this year at Licensing Expo. Do you think this has serious consumer products potential?
There’s nothing else like it and I think that will give it real cult appeal among an audience that does love to invest in the kind of licensing categories we are focusing on such as apparel, accessories, gifting, novelty, collectables and so on.
Next year sees the return of a wave of iconic shows and movie IP with 24, Prison Break, Alien: Covenant and War for the Planet of the Apes. Can you tell us a little bit about where you feel the licensing opportunities lie for these brands?
Those are all very strong established franchise brands, each with a hugely loyal following that, in the case of Alien and Planet of the Apes, goes back quite a way. Where you have such a strong appeal, a dedicated and enthusiastic audience and new fans joining the franchise every day, there are always new opportunities to explore for the brand which often creates some really interesting product lines.
We will certainly be looking to maximise the opportunity in areas such as apparel, gifts and collectibles of course.