THE BIG INTERVIEW: Preston Kevin Lewis, General Manager, Warner Bros. Consumer Products UK & Ireland

Fresh from six years in Australia – where he helped to completely turnaround the business - Preston Kevin Lewis has made the move to London as general manager of WBCP UK & Ireland. Samantha Loveday meets him to talk about his plans.
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0
WBCP Preston Kevin Lewis-1.jpg

Three days into his new role as general manager of Warner Bros. Consumer Products UK & Ireland, Preston Kevin Lewis is sitting down to talk to Licensing.biz.

His office may still be full of boxes waiting to be unpacked, but Lewis knows exactly what his plan is going forward. Two things are immediately clear – he loves Warner Bros. with a passion, and he sees opportunity to grow the business everywhere.

“Not only is the UK a thrilling market in terms of size and scope, but I think that when you look at how many things are actually done here – in terms of the execution of brands in the marketplace, the way that multi-platform programmes are delivered – it is all very exciting,” he explains.

Lewis began his career at HBO – “I knew very early on, whatever I was going to do had to be entertainment-based” – taking HBO original movies to video, before moving to MTV as director of marketing. From there, it was a trip from the East Coast to the West Coast of America to join Disney Consumer Products, initially working with the franchise group on the likes of Cars, The Incredibles and Chicken Little, before beginning to work on the global Winnie the Pooh business.

Image placeholder title

After three years with DCP he got an offer from Time Warner to return to the company, initially as VP of international licensing based at Burbank before taking the opportunity to turnaround the Australian business.

“It’s not often we get these opportunities to turnaround businesses,” Lewis says. “Normally what happens is we get opportunities to grow businesses by ten per cent, 15 per cent … but to take something that was broken and fix it is a very, very different proposition and something that was very exciting and thrilling to do.

“The place where Warner Bros. sits in Australia today is a very different place than it was six years ago and that’s exciting to me.”

To the UK then, and the focal point for Lewis here is on exponential growth. “It’s about how do we take this wonderfully passionate, well regarded business that we have and take it to the next level. Are there bigger programmes that we are able to do for our brands? Are there bigger multi-platform, cross divisional opportunities for us? Are there larger ways for us to align with our retail partners in the marketplace.”

When it comes to the toy sector, Lewis believes that the heritage of the Warner Bros. portfolio is a key factor in the firm’s phenomenal success here.

“These brands are just strong,” he emphasises. “Parents don’t have to question whether a brand is appropriate for their child; they instinctively know because they all grew up with these brands.

“But we also spend a lot of time focused on the playability of brands and innovation. We have amazing toy partners who are experts in product development, innovation, research of trends across the world and they make sure we can deliver toy solutions in the marketplace that are going to mean something.

“So, when you combine known brands with amazing toy partnerships that are focused on innovation and product development, with great marketing activation programmes, I don’t think you can lose.”

However, Lewis is quick to point out he knows the firm can never get comfortable: “I think that’s the other piece that underlines what we are. We acknowledge what we do well, but we always ask what can we do better. That constant evaluation allows us to keep winning.”

For toy retailers visiting WBCP at BLE, he wants them to take away Warner’s “absolute excitement” at building stronger relationships with them. “We’re looking at how we can create long-term plans for how we can engage and deliver meaningful solutions to them for customers,” Lewis concludes. “That’s what they should know and I’m hoping that they are just as interested in meeting with us regularly to create those kind of plans.”

Image placeholder title

WARNER BROS. AT BLE

Kicking off the presentation slate, WBCP is continuing the celebration for Batman’s 75th anniversary – championing the Batman Arkham gaming franchise, as well as highlighting the summer 2016 movie blockbuster, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Staying with theatrical, Middle Earth will come to BLE in the form of The Hobbit Trilogy and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, while the firm will also be talking to partners about the Godzilla and Harry Potter franchises.

Also in the spotlight will be WBCP’s classic animated properties, supported by a slate of new content from Warner Bros. Animation. This includes Be Cool Scooby-Doo – a new animated comedy series featuring Scooby-Doo and the gang – and The Tom and Jerry Show, that offers a new take on the original series. Wabbit – A Looney Tunes Production is a new series featuring Bugs Bunny and co, while the Looney Tunes Active brand extension continues.

In addition, WBCP and its international licensing partners will showcase fan favourites such as the DC Comics portfolio (licensed on behalf of DC Entertainment), The Big Bang Theory and the Hanna-Barbera catalogue of characters among others. Best-in-class licensees will also be commended in the Warner Bros. Consumer Products Golden Bunnies awards.

Related

4_NRR small.jpg

THE BIG INTERVIEW: Neil Ross Russell

He?s been in the job for less than six months, but already Neil Ross Russell, MD of the new-look BBC Worldwide Children?s & Licensing, is making his mark. Samantha Loveday caught up with him at the BBC?s Media Centre to discuss his plans...

4_Andrew Kerr small.jpg

THE BIG INTERVIEW: Andrew Kerr

Having joined Entertainment Rights four months ago, Andrew Kerr has arrived in the middle of a key time for the firm. Here, he speaks to Samantha Loveday about Postman Pat: SDS and why he's not afraid of signing up different kinds of content...

Featured Jobs

Aardman Job Logo 620 x 349

Brand Manager (Maternity Cover)

Part of the brand team, The Brand Manager works closely with several members of the department, including Studio Publicist, Community Managers, Licensing, Sales and Attractions and Live Experiences teams to implement local and international strategies in the form of brand plans and maximising on all activity surrounding the properties.

Universal Job Logo 620 x 349

Senior Graphic Designer, EMEA - Consumer Products

Working in tandem with the Product Development team and reporting into the Design Manager EMEA, the purpose of this role is to drive forward our creativity across all licensed consumer products. As part of the creative team, you’ll be developing exceptional creative assets and product concepts for numerous NBCUniversal franchises that inspire licensing partners across the entire region.

SanrioJob Logo 620 x 349

Creative Manager

Best known for global icon Hello Kitty, Sanrio has a portfolio of more than 400 characters. We license a unique collection of branded gifts, stationery and fashion accessory items while collaborating with the most respected companies in the world. Our EMEA business coordinates the development licensing throughout Europe, Russia, Middle East, Africa, Asia (for Mr Men), Australia and New Zealand. An exciting, permanent opportunity has come up at our London office to lead our Design team as Creative Manager (m/f)

Vivid Job Logo 620 x 349

Digital Marketing Executive - Toys & Games

Vivid is Britain’s biggest toy company and the 20 largest in the world. With offices across the globe, they sell an amazing portfolio of toys and games to over 60 countries. Vivid is best known for its association with blockbuster brands and is very excited about future opportunities around the world.