Rising Stars

We decided it was time to highlight some of young talent currently making a name for themselves in the licensing business. Samantha Loveday offers up 20 execs, the majority of whom are either 30 or under or have been in the business for five years or less?
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Cassie Allen
Licensing Manager, BBC Worldwide

29 year-old Allen started her career in the merchandising division of Debenhams, before moving to Warner Bros Consumer Products as licensing assistant where she supported category managers working on brands such as Harry Potter, Looney Tunes and Batman.
She joined BBC Worldwide in 2006 as licensing executive for homewares and quickly rose up the ranks, being promoted to licensing manager at the beginning of this year. Allen now manages the clothing and accessories category.
Her quick promotion to manager is testament to her patient and dedicated work on the successful Teletubbies tween clothing range, In The Night Garden clothing, the extension of the Charlie & Lola line and the building of relationships with Marks & Spencer, Next and Mothercare.
Allen was also part of the licensing industry team which swam around the Maltese islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino in aid of the Light Fund back in May.

Shelley Kerridge
Head of Licensing, Target Entertainment Group

Popular Kerridge has certainly made her mark within the licensing business – when Licensing.biz was researching this feature, several people put her name forward. And 27 year-old Kerridge has certainly earned all the plaudits.
She has worked in the consumer products business for nine years, working in roles at Bravado International Group (now part of Universal) and art and design agency MGL, before joining Target in January 2006 as licensing manager. She was promoted to head of licensing in November 2007, reporting to global brand director Helen Howells.
Kerridge manages the UK licensing – across toys, publishing, interactive, apparel and third party promotions – for the company’s portfolio of eight properties including Fifi and the Flowertots, Storm Hawks and feature film The Nutcracker: The Real Story. She is also responsible for managing all consumer products activity in Scandinavia, Benelux, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Asia.
Some of the recent key deals Kerridge has negotiated at Target include a direct to retail deal with Woolworths for Storm Hawks clothing and fashion items, plus a deal with Tudor Models to develop a high-end collectors’ edition of the doll’s house featured in The Nutcracker. She has also been responsible for a whole range of Fifi and the Flowertots deals, which has helped generate over £90m in revenues for the hit pre-school property.

Caroline High
Licensing Manager, Chapman Entertainment

High started her career in the licensing business in 2004 when she joined Golden Bear as international sales administrator.
She moved to London in 2006, spending a short time at Hit Entertainment as associate brand manager for Thomas the Tank Engine, before joining Chapman first as partner and licensing coordinator, receiving a promotion to licensing manager in 2007.
High now manages a team of three and has overall responsibility for all UK and international approvals and product development for Roary the Racing Car and Fifi and the Flowertots. In addition, she is responsible for all Roary partners and all key Fifi partners, as well as bringing in new UK licensees for Roary.
Key deals for High to date include a posters and canvas art deal with GB Eye and an interactive deal with GSP for PC and Nintendo DS games.

Jon Elliot
Operations Manager (R&D), Character Group

Described as ‘very personable’ and showing a ‘strong commitment to the products’ by one person who nominated him, Elliot has been with Character Options for four years.
He primarily works in product development, handling toy development on Scooby-Doo toys with Warner Bros Consumer Products, plus audio, electronics and creative play lines for the major Disney properties Hannah Montana, High School Musical and Camp Rock. Elliot also handled Doctor Who spin off Sarah Jane and Planet Earth ranges with BBC Worldwide, while he has also worked with TLC, Hit and Entertainment Rights on projects over the last few years.
Most recently, he has been involved with 2waytraffic with electronic games for Who Wants to be A Millionaire?, plus Sky and Start Licensing on Are You Smarter Than a 10 Year Old? and Gladiators, with the toy range for this due before Christmas.

Robyn Morgan
Licensing Manager, Underground Toys

Since joining Underground Toys in January 2006, 24 year-old Morgan has been developing her skills and taking on more and more aspects of licensing and is now in charge of licensing strategies and product development.
With just a general interest in entertainment and pop culture before she joined Underground Toys, Morgan has worked closely with the firm’s MD Andrew Oddie and she has been heavily involved in expanding the In Your Pocket range, launching products for Dirty Dancing, Thunderbirds, 24, WWE and Star Wars. She has also been involved with the launch of a number of other Star Wars products.
Coming up next for Morgan are a range of voice key chains for kids to be sold into the mass market for the likes of Star Wars, WWE and Gladiators among others. Morgan was described by one of the people who nominated her as having a good eye for licensing, being keen to maximise the licence’s potential and challenging conventional thinking.

Lesli Zador
Brand Marketing Manager, Hit Entertainment

Zador got her first taste of the licensing industry while working at Harlequin Enterprises in Canada, where she managed the firm’s single-title brands and negotiated a deal with NASCAR for a series of themed romance novels.
Before arriving at Hit a year and a half ago, she worked on the Postman Pat brand at Entertainment Rights and, before that, was responsible for the romance lines at Mills & Boon. Since coming to Hit, 29 year-old Zador has been instrumental in leading high profile campaigns such as Bob the Builder’s Project: Renovate. Launched in October 2007, Project: Renovate is a grass roots campaign to improve the environment for pre-school/nursery children throughout the UK, fronted by Bob and thinkinsulation.com.
In addition, this year Zador has also secured a deal which brings Bob’s latest DVD release, Race to the Finish, into Vue cinemas in the UK, while she is also leading an extensive campaign around the character’s tenth anniversary. She has also contributed to the growth of Fireman Sam with initiatives such as a bespoke retailer marketing campaign and also capitalising on the charitable partnership with CAPT (Child Accident Prevention Trust).

Ashley Holman
UK Licensing Manager, Nickelodeon

The 25 year-old Holman appears to have made a number of fans during his short time in the licensing business. His was the most suggested name during our research for this feature. Not that we want to make him big headed or anything.
Holman kicked off his career at Licensingpages in August 2005, leaving to join Coolabi in March 2006, before making his way to Nickelodeon. Since there, he has been instrumental in striking several key deals for the firm’s major properties, many outside of the traditional licensing areas. These include ceramic collectable figurines for Spongebob Squarepants and digital photo frames for Dora the Explorer.
Probably the best in Licensing.biz's opinion though was the agreement inked with John Hornby Skewes for Spongebob-branded electric guitars, ukuleles and other real musical instruments. Genius.

Simon Algie
Retail Business Development Manager, Warner Bros Consumer Products UK

It’s a good time to be at WBCP at the moment, especially considering its current success with The Dark Knight, and Algie has been involved with several of the firm’s key properties this year.
Before joining WBCP in December 2006 as category manager for stationery and gifts, 29 year-old Algie was previously on the other side of the fence as a buyer at Magson. At Warner, he was responsible for the deal with the Royal Mail which launched Harry Potter stamps featuring seven book covers and the five house crests.
Algie was promoted to retail business development manager in September 2008 and is now working together with a broad range of retail partners and licensees. Recent achievements have included securing high profile promotional activity for brands such as Batman and Speed Racer with retailers such as Tesco, Woolworths, TRU, Marks & Spencer, Amazon and FCUK.

Peta Thomson
Category Manager, Toys & Gifts, CPLG

The well travelled Thomson came to the UK in 2005 and worked with WWE for a year. Prior to that she spent a year working and skiing in Banff, Canada, and before that she was with Gaffney in Australia.
She has been managing the toys and gifts category at CPLG for the past two years and has recently been given extra responsibility in light of her good work, now also looking after FMCG licensing.
Her achievements include the Horrid Henry master toy deal with Re:creation, a deal she not only negotiated but is also managing to great success. Great at identifying new contacts and categories, Thomson has built up a great business in everything from talking key chains through to golf head covers.

Jennifer Smyth
Marketing Executive, Turner Broadcasting and Cartoon Network Enterprises

Described as the glue between all Turner divisions across EMEA and US, Smyth acts as the eyes and ears within the company, ensuring all licensees and retailers are aware of local channel marketing initiatives and the Enterprise commercial team are aware of programming and scheduling changes. She also introduces the team to new shows and brands and ensures all Turner’s internal marketing, PR, programming and sales teams are aware of licensee and retailer plans to enable better collaboration and coordination of activities.
Before joining Turner in June 2007, she was marketing coordinator at Chorion, where she was responsible for raising awareness of the firm’s children’s properties, including activity around the 35th anniversary of Mr Men and Little Miss.
In the past year, Smyth has forged valuable relationships across all Turner regional teams and key external partners, helping to drive incremental revenue opportunities for the company.

Victoria Charles
UK Marketing & Communications Manager, 4Kids Entertainment International

Charles has been with 4Kids for almost four years, joining as marketing assistant.
Although her role oversees marketing and PR for the UK, she has been increasingly exposed to international business via Brand Licensing Europe and through her work with the Royal Air Force brand which extends into France and Italy. Indeed, Charles is the brand champion for the RAF working on marketing, communications, approvals and other client service elements, liaising with the Ministry of Defence.
Charles is currently awaiting the final set of results for her post graduate marketing diploma, which she completed with the full support of 4Kids.
Described by her bosses as ‘professional and efficient and a great asset to 4Kids’, Charles apparently never panics and smiles nearly all of the time.

Ami Dieckman
Brand and Licensing Manager, TV-Loonland

According to her workmates, Dieckman brings a ‘focused, passionate, yet down to earth’ approach to the business. The 30 year-old mum of two joined the media industry soon after leaving full time education and enjoyed stints at ITV and Entertainment Rights, before arriving at TV-Loonland in August 2005 as brand manager.
And, as the firm’s brand Little Princess grew, so did Dieckman’s role in the company, with promotion to brand and licensing manager coming in January 2007. Her role includes devising and implementing brand strategies for key properties, developing international contacts for major broadcasters, video distributors, publishing, licensing and merchandising companies as well as managing a team, PR agency and creative strategies.
Coming up for Dieckman will be more work on Little Princess, while TV-Loonland is also pushing The Owl and Pat & Stan among others.

Sonya Little
Senior Licensing and Events Manager, Woolworths

Little started as licensing manager at the High Street giant around 20 months ago, although she had worked in entertainment as a marketing manager for 18 months prior to that. Highlights during her tenure there include successful events last year for Spider-man and Transformers, as well as picking up three accolades at the 2007 Licensing Awards.
This year, she says, has definitely been a challenging one, from some not so successful film launches through to some of the best, including Indiana Jones, for which Woolworths successfully launched a licensed event, even getting Indiana Jones to be its spokesperson for Father’s Day.
Next for Little, however, is a move back to her native New Zealand in December, where she is planning to use the wealth of experience she has gathered during her time working in the UK entertainment and licensing retail sector.

Claire Irons
Associate Licensing Manager, Mattel

27 year-old Irons has a growing reputation in the licensing industry for the professional way in which she conducts business, and, indeed, she has shown considerable tenacity in securing various licensing deals to showcase the wide appeal of Barbie.
She originally started at Mattel as an intern back in 2002 before returning to university in June 2003. She was then rehired in January 2005 after graduating as licensing coordinator and was promoted to licensing associate in May 2007.
Irons took on her current role in November 2007 and since then has secured a number of important new and varied deals. These include agreements with home furnishings licensees such as Zap and Spearmark, targeting Barbie’s core audience of three to seven year-olds girls, as well as coordinating with new toiletries licensee Grosvenor.
Next up for Irons is the adult and teen cosmetics market, with products from a brand new licensee launching in 2009.

Jessica Blue
Event Director, Brand Licensing Europe

Coming up to celebrating her fourth anniversary working in the licensing business, Blue took on the role of event director for the Advanstar show at a pivotal time.
She joined in 2005, when the show was still at Earls Court, but walked straight into the firing line of exhibitors wanting a whole host of changes. Since then, Blue and her team have worked tirelessly to improve Brand Licensing Europe (a name change which came in from 2006) and make it the showcase the European licensing industry was asking for.
Changes she’s overseen during her time at the firm include the introduction of the free to attend Licensing Academy and the European Hosted Buyers Programme, the launch of visitor, retailer and exhibitor focus groups, the hiring of a new PR agency, a change of venue (to Olympia), dates and pricing structure and the introduction of the Screening Suite.
And she still managed to find time to become a mum to baby Ruby.

Libby Grant
Brand Director, Fluid World

Grant has bought a wide array of experience within the licensing business to her new role at Fluid World – the consultancy set up by Tom Howgate and Andrew Lane earlier this year.
She began her career back in 2001 within the licensing and marketing division of Jim Henson, before moving into sponsorship at Mean Fiddler Group and then brand development at Bacardi Brown Forman. Various roles followed at the Ministry of Sound (including international events and head of development looking after various projects including licensing for Hed Kandi) between 2003 and 2007, before she moved to Disney Consumer Products as category manager for health and beauty. And she’s still only 30.
Grant’s role at Fluid – which has just picked up the Hello Kitty business from Sanrio – includes product development, day to day contact for licensees and retailers, brand strategy and new business.

Martin Grix
MD, The Monster Factory/The Novelty Gift Company

Grix originally established The Monster Factory back in 2000 (with Kate Wakeham), but it was only in spring 2006 that the firm made a move into the licensing sector, launching Fuzzy-Felt cards.
The range was an immediate best seller, scooping the 2006 Gift of the Year award and becoming a finalist in the 2007 Licensing Awards. Since then, the firm, and Grix, have become known for acquiring licences and applying them to certain products in a way that always surprises and raises a smile. Highlights include Subbuteo cufflinks, Mr Men mobile accessories and Mr Potato Head greetings cards.
Grix has also recently teamed up with Reuben Utudjian from The Novelty Gift Company to maximise the opportunities and distribution for the business’ increasing number of gift lines. The new-look Novelty Gift Company was relaunched at this year’s Autumn Fair, with products including a Marmite sandwich box, Morph bookends and Michael Fish fridge magnets, with a range of homeware to follow in 2009.

Emily Bell
Marketing Manager, Redan Publishing

Bell started at independent publisher Redan in April 2003 and is involved with a wide range of jobs, from running the company’s in-house PR, to booking competitions and advertising and also getting involved with all aspects of the firm’s character licensing.
During her time at Redan, Bell has fostered really good links with the licensing community, with one of her contacts telling ToyNews her calm manner is appreciated and her management style has helped the company cement a number of key relationships with rights holders.
Bell’s background is in PR and before arriving at Redan – originally only on a short-term contract to cover maternity leave – she worked at agencies in London and Edinburgh, before setting up her own freelance PR outfit in Aberdeen which she ran alongside a dog walking service. Certainly a woman of many talents.

Jordana Chapman
Creative Development Executive, BBC Worldwide

The second rising star from BBC Worldwide in our list, 28 year-old Chapman is responsible for the creative development of merchandise for the firm’s Planet Earth, which has scored great success in the US since its launch earlier this year with books, toys and plush in Wal-Mart and Toys R Us across the country.
Chapman is also responsible for creative approval across product categories including clothing, toys and publishing for BBCWW flagships such as In The Night Garden, Charlie & Lola and Primeval. Her work on ITNG resulted in a nomination in the Best Licensed Children’s Apparel or Accessories range for Aykroyd & Sons nightwear. Chapman’s creative flair has proved a great success in toy and game lines for Planet Earth in particular, through licensees such as Planet Toys and Scholastic.
Indeed, the Planet Earth DVD game from Imagination Games picked up the accolade for Best Licensed Interactive Range at the Licensing Awards 2008.

Sallie Deary
Account Manager, Kilogrammedia

Deary may have come to licensing later in life than some of the other talent in this feature, but she took to it immediately and has a natural flair for working in licensing PR as Kilogrammedia has discovered.
With the firm for a little over year, Deary has not only learnt her licensor from her licensee in record time, but is a pleasure to deal with and is prompt, reliable, good humoured and unflappable, even when faced with a barrage of questions from demanding journalists like ToyNews who want everything right now.
She deals with a wide range of the firm’s clients, both in and outside of the toy market (including Bulldog Licensing, PPC Enterprises, 4Kids, Cartoon Network and Contender to name just a few).


Rising Stars

Licensing.biz turns the spotlight on some of the young talent currently making a name for themselves in the business.

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