THE BIG INTERVIEW: Andrew Alsop, Head of EMEA Licensing, DreamWorks Animation - Licensing.biz

THE BIG INTERVIEW: Andrew Alsop, Head of EMEA Licensing, DreamWorks Animation

Ahead of Brand Licensing Europe, we catch up with the man in charge of overseeing DreamWorks' rapidly growing global business.
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Firstly, can you give me some background on your career in the licensing business?

I came to DreamWorks Animation with more than 20 years of experience in retail sales, working with BBC worldwide and The Walt Disney Company. I have years of retail account experience across the UK and Europe and worked in licensing throughout my time at Disney.

What are your main responsibilities as head of licensing EMEA for DWA CP?

My current role is head of licensing, EMEA for DreamWorks Animation. Now that we have a number of new agency partners across the region as well as direct licensing within in the UK, I have come aboard to oversee a rapidly growing global business.

How is the experience you've gained in other roles helping in this one?

My prior experience translates perfectly to my current role as I am able to bring industry and category knowledge, along with a valuable perspective on consumer insights. I also bring a great familiarity with retail marketing programmes and have vast experience with long term franchise building.

Can you talk me through the DWA agency model in key territories across the EMEA region? Why did you decide to go direct in the UK?

Over the past year we have worked hard to build a better agency model, aligning with top agencies around the world to represent our interests in the local market. These include best-in-class partners such as Super RTL in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, Planeta for Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Central and Eastern Europe, and Saban Brands Israel, CPL in Brazil and Mexico, Oriental DreamWorks in China and CJ Entertainment along with Joon in S. Korea.

In addition, we are working with fantastic agents in other key territories: CPLG is taking care of the bulk of our portfolio in France, where we also have FTD handling Noddy and Marathon looking after Where’s Wally; CPLG also looks after Benelux, while Ink represents us in the Nordic region and ELC handles Russia.

This extensive network gives us comprehensive coverage across the EMEA region and we’ll also be looking to appoint agents for the Middle East and Africa in the not too distant future.

The UK is a special case in that it is the base of our international operation, so it is important that we lead that charge internally. Outside of the UK, we are committed to working with our ever-expanding roster of incredible agents.

There are many strings to DWA's bow – can you talk me through upcoming film highlights first?

On the features side, we are especially excited about Home, arriving in theaters spring 2015, B.O.O., debuting worldwide in summer/autumn 2015 and Trolls, arriving just in time for the 2016 Christmas season. We will be working with all the major retailers across markets, to develop unique in-store programmes that showcase the increasing range of products available.

What's next for the Dragons franchise? How has the second film performed in terms of CP?

Dragons really continues to be a massive franchise for us both at retail and with the incredible content across multiple mediums. How to Train Your Dragon 2 recently crossed $600 million at the worldwide box office and had the largest animated opening of all-time in China. We saw with the overwhelming success of the second film that the audience is fanatical about this franchise and its characters.

The fact that we have the latest film as a proof point that leads into the all new Netflix series and right on through the third installment of the film gives us an incredible opportunity to grow momentum and enjoy even greater results at retail.

On a global level, Dragons stands out for us right now as the first example of where we have worked closely with the master toy licensee, Spin Master, to extend the appeal of the property into other categories, and maximize the CP potential linked to content – either film, or the television series that has aired across Europe, or live experiences that are traveling the world.

Your TV slate is also set to receive a boost with the launch of Dinotrux in 2015 – can you tell me some more about that?

We are really excited about DinoTrux and think it will be a big hit at retail. We can’t say too much about the show at this point, but when you combine the play patterns of vehicles and dinosaurs, what’s not to love! We have a great show that will be a wonderful addition to a very busy slate and we can’t wait to bring the property to shelves.

What plans are in place for classic franchises such as Postman Pat, Where's Wally and Noddy going forward?

Postman Pat is of course a beloved icon in the UK who made his big screen debut in the CG film Postman Pat: The Movie in 2014. Fans have plenty of content to enjoy as Postman Pat Special Delivery Service Season 2 has debuted globally and The Postman Pat TV series airs in more than 85 territories worldwide. The property also has 38 best-in-class licensees committed to delivering fantastic products at retail.

Where’s Wally? has grown into a leading lifestyle and travel brand with exciting consumer products opportunities across all EMEA territories. These opportunities are in alignment with our overall strategy and will be rolling out over the next 12 to 24 months.

With Noddy we have a number of exciting activations on the horizon, including some that I can’t mention just yet. We are starting with a new look that we’ll be debuting at BLE this year, followed by a meaningful product line being developed by a number of well-known licensee partners. The products will reflect the expansive regions in Toyland, providing a diverse range of play patterns.

How does the new DreamWorks Press arm fit in with the rest of the business? What plans can you tell us about going forward?

DreamWorks Press is an incredible initiative for us in that it is our first-ever vertical publishing business. The in-house operation publishes digital and print books which extend the storytelling of our characters and worlds.

The team at DW Press is working hard now to create a wealth of book art and stories that can be leveraged by our licensing partners all over the world, creating opportunities across verticals beyond publishing.

We already have strong teams in the US and UK and the unit is staffing up to support the business with experienced publishing people dedicated to other key territories including Shanghai and Mexico City. Harriet Murphy, formerly of Nickelodeon heads the international publishing team here in the UK. The first titles debut in the US in October and from there, DreamWorks Press will be off and running.

How does the recent acquisition of Felix fit into your plans?

There is a lot of internal buzz at DreamWorks Animation around our recent acquisition of Felix. We intend to make Felix one of the most desired tween/teen/adult fashion brands in the world, and licence this international character across multiple categories.

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