We continue our focus on the teams and individuals who make up this exciting industry, as we countdown to celebrating the best of the best on Thursday April 30th.
Today we spotlight the finalists in the Licensor Team category…
The last year has been an incredibly busy and exciting one for Disney UK and Ireland, with the team working closely with licensees and retailers to deliver fantastic cross category ranges of unique and compelling products as well as impactful shopper marketing campaigns.
With four iconic brands – Disney, Marvel, Pixar and Lucas Film – and franchises including Frozen, Cinderella, Doc McStuffins, Cars, Avengers and Star Wars, the team have been working to leverage every part of the business to drive sales and awareness of licensed products, working with partners in even more creative and proactive ways.
Consumer-focused campaigns at retail have included ‘Frozen Winter Wonderland’ for Frozen and ‘Every Little Hero Helps’ for Spider-Man 2, both at Tesco, a Marvel Super Heroes and Christmas Frozen campaign at Primark and a Disney Easter event at ASDA.
NVCP’s portfolio of properties this year is stronger than ever. The amount of properties has grown substantially thanks to the continued success of its evergreen properties Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & SpongeBob SquarePants. Newcomer, Paw Patrol, has been an unparalleled success. Everyone’s favourite explorer, Dora, has taken on a whole new set of adventures in Dora and Friends: Into the City! These, coupled with an exciting future thanks to new properties like Lily’s Driftwood Bay and Blaze and the Monster Machines as well as the announcement of the first European Nickelodeon Store in Leicester Square, mean it has been a fantastic year for NVCP.
In addition to work on all of these successful properties, the NVCP team has been responsible for some great retail campaigns and innovations over the past year. Successful retail campaigns have been held with The Entertainer, Smyths, Toys R Us, Argos and Tesco among others across Europe and beyond which made 2014 an incredibly successful year for NVCP.
In 2014, Entertainment One made huge strides forward in the global expansion of Peppa Pig and there were over 200 new international broadcast and licensing deals signed in this period. There was rapid growth for Peppa in Australia, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, CEE and merchandise launched in France, Germany, Central America, Russia, China and South East Asia.
Consumer demand for Peppa Pig in the UK grew ten per cent year on year and in 2014 the licensor celebrated the brand’s 10th anniversary. United by the theme of Muddy Puddles, a host of licensees released specially created ranges. These were supported by anniversary promotions, encouraging consumers to search for golden codes inside the anniversary DVD, websites, social media and Peppa Pig World.
2014 was such a strong year for the brand that Peppa Pig is now on track to deliver $1bn retail sales worldwide in 2015.
With over 65 licensees globally, Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom is also gaining momentum in a number of international territories. Successful consumer products programmes are established in the UK and Spain. There are also early signs of commercial success in Australia and Italy where retail exclusive merchandise launches generated strong sales last year.
Thunderbirds Are Go is the highly anticipated new boys’ action adventure series and an exciting remake of the classic 1960s TV show. The team behind the Thunderbirds Are Go campaign in 2014 have successfully balanced the challenge of pleasing existing fans while enticing a new generation of kids. They strategically approached the brand with the vision to sign partners with a strong understanding of the heritage of Thunderbirds whilst also embracing the new remake to develop innovative product lines and secured a fantastic array of licensing deals across key categories.
In the UK, Simon & Schuster were signed for publishing in addition to DC Thomson for the annual and monthly magazine. ITVS GE added Kokomo to the personal care category and Danilo joined for greetings. Posh Paws was also signed for accessories, as well as Beyond the Story for the digital app and finally Vivid Imaginations was appointed as the master toy licensee for worldwide manufacturing excluding US and Asia.
Supporting the expanding licensing programme, the Kids Division team organised a first class consumer marketing campaign for Thunderbirds Are Go. The comprehensive campaign spans retail promotions, digital initiatives, new product partnerships, events and live shows to support the launch. Additionally, the team created a bespoke branded site which is packed with support assets ready for all of their partners, featuring the official style guide, packaging guide, retail support packs, microsite assets, character profiles and artwork to mini-games and downloads.
Hasbro Licensing delivered its biggest and best ever year in 2014 at +38 per cent versus 2013 globally.
In the UK the business was up 17 per cent on prior year and the core franchises of Transformers and My Little Pony drove growth across all categories with MLP moving up 20 places to the number 15 licensed property in the market for January 15 and Transformers to number ten.
My Little Pony represented a 139 per cent growth on 2013, driving the equivalent of $540m in retail sales globally. In the UK My little Pony was up 65 per cent. Transformers represented a 98 per cent growth on 2013 globally and 127 per cent in the UK, beating expectations.
Hasbro signed partners across all categories including HTI, Character Options, Nikko, IMC, Smith and Brooks, Misirli, Aykroyds, Character World, TY, Spearmark and Hachette, to name a few.
UK apparel grew 84 per cent year-on-year with programmes on My Little Pony and Transformers at retail including H&M, Benneton, Primark, Tesco, George @Asda, Topshop and ASOS. Claire’s Accessories was a key partner with My Little Pony, a top girl’s property at the retailer.
The licensed toy category grew 43 per cent year on year with huge success in new categories such as My Little Pony Plush from TY, RC vehicles with Nikko and role play from HTI. Hasbro Transformers action figures also topped the NPD charts maintain the coveted number one action figure slot.
Hardlines also grew 22 per cent year on year with Back to School and stationary leading the way. Gifting also contributed, with successful Monopoly programmes at key accounts cush as John Lewis.
The DreamWorks Animation UK consumer products team claims that it has gone from 0-60 in the past 12 months.
Exactly 12 months ago, Richard Hollis became the head of UK licensing, with his first job being to recruit a team of industry professionals that could take over the great work that had been done by the UK agent Bulldog, and set up a direct licensing organisation.
Within a couple of months, Hollis had recruited a team of six, across hardlines, softlines, retail and marketing – with backgrounds spanning the BBC, Tesco, Nickelodeon, VTech, Arcadia, Disney, Penguin, Live Nation and many more.
The team’s first role was to quickly grow the licensee base, and expand it into categories that had previously remained untouched.
Both the hardlines and softlines teams secured meetings with key licensees, with the aim of signing up portfolio licensees in key categories – ensuring that product development didn’t just happen on films properties, but across the rich universe of DreamWorks properties. And the toy team has also been responsible for driving detailed negotiations with key master toy partners, for a number of its properties.
With the recent acquisition of Classic Media by DreamWorks Animation, the team also managed the wide portfolio of Classic characters.
The integration of Mattel and HIT has seen the licensing team grow to over 13 key people developing and managing Mattel’s fast moving licensing business. The strong team continues to succeed in creating new opportunities to help drive Mattel’s powerhouse franchise brands including Barbie, Thomas & Friends, Monster High and Fireman Sam.
Welcoming a wealth of exciting new licensing partnerships expanding the business into new categories while reinforcing existing relationships, the team continues to go from strength to strength - building on its extensive portfolio including toy, apparel, dress up, publishing, creative play, outdoor play, home furnishings and sporting goods.
Pegged as one to watch by the industry less than nine months since its inception, DHX Brands has put itself on the map. Under the leadership of industry veteran Peter Byrne, who has assembled a strong team across licensing, brand management and creative services, the company has formidable experience, clear focus and a standout slate. It also has a production and distribution powerhouse in parent company DHX Media.
DHX Brands reinvigorated the newly acquired ex-Ragdoll brands injecting momentum into In the Night Garden through new branding, a new website, a year-long integrated social media and marketing plan, high profile events and brand new style guide. This focused attention not only made In the Night Garden the fastest selling pre-school toy licence of 2014 but ended the year as the fifth largest pre-school brand in the UK for 2014 (NPD Full Year 2014).
The UK and global industry is also greatly anticipating the brand new Teletubbies. DHX Brands has built a whole new strategy around the brand garnering an overwhelmingly positive response from licensees looking to partner on one of the hottest and established brands in pre-school.
With momentum building on the brand, Character Options signed up as the global master toy partner, followed by Egmont for global master publishing. With over 20 UK licensees signed before production on the new series even commenced, DHX Brands continues to garner the best in class partners on this pedigree brand.
DHX Brands has also launched the new pre-school show Twirlywoos created by industry guru Anne Woods and DHX Media. It has attracted top licensees across key categories – including Golden Bear as global master toy partner. Golden Bear will launch toys from July, with a range that will include Talking Twirlywoos Plush – winner of Best New Toy at London Toy Fair.
The Licensing.biz People Awards take place on Thursday April 30th at Sway Bar, London.