Industry Commentary — We Speak To Key Licensing Executives

After two and a half years of adapting to doing business alongside a global pandemic, what green shoots do you see on the horizon for the Brand and Licensing business and in particular your own business?

Sarah Young

The global pandemic was a time of highs and lows, in the end, the best thing to come from this was the way everyone worked together to keep going and support each other. During this time, we continued to look for ways to drive business and deliver products that would support consumers and their needs during such a difficult time. We can’t thank our licensees and retail partners enough for their support and achievements over the last few years.

As we look to the future, we can see that there is a fantastic opportunity for consumers to engage in live experiences and events, whether this was visiting the Nerf Zone at the Australian Open in January, or the recent partnership between Sea life Aquariums and Peppa Pig. Apparel and Homewares have become even bigger category opportunities for Hasbro, and a recent example of this was the successful launch in March of a gorgeous Peppa Pig x Adairs Bedding and Home collaboration.

Sarah Young

We are also very excited about two key Movie releases in 2023, the first being Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves releasing in March 2023, followed by Transformers: Rise of the Beasts in June 2023. As we see consumers going back to cinemas, we have a chance to excite and engage current and new fans with a great new range of products, including Collectibles, Apparel, Home, and Publishing. Nostalgia is a continuing trend, and we are excited to celebrate 75 Years of TONKA during the second half of 2022. My Little Pony also celebrates its 40th Anniversary in 2023, stay tuned for an exciting year with great product from existing and new licensees with fashion a key element of the My Little Pony Brand. With all new content continuing to launch via Netflix and YouTube, My Little Pony is set to be around for many more generations to come.

Sarah Young — Director
Licensed Consumer Products
Pacific Hasbro Australia Ltd

Jo Pascoe

Jo Pascoe
Jo Pascoe

Hi Tony, the last 2 years have been tough for everyone both personally and professionally, but it is incredible to see people out again and at in-person trade shows like this one!

At Universal Brand Development, we have the highly anticipated Jurassic World Dominion and Minions: The Rise of Gru movies launching in cinemas June, supported by some of the biggest retailer programs we have ever seen. The breadth and depth in these mega franchises have allowed us to not only sustain, but to grow our everyday business and set us up for Jurassic Park’s 30th anniversary in 2023 and Illumination’s Despicable Me 4 in 2024. Not only are we nurturing our established franchises, but we are also building new IP like our latest pre-school property from DreamWorks Animation, Gabby’s Dollhouse. This show is on and consistently reaches the #1 kids show in Australia on Netflix during new season drops. The retail programs are just rolling out and we expect big things from Gabby and her kitty friends.

Looking ahead into 2023, we will be celebrating Jurassic Park’s 30th anniversary in an all-year-round nostalgic campaign, launching a brand-new film in partnership with Illumination and Nintendo on the iconic Super Mario Brothers, Fast & Furious will have its 10th instalment on the big screen, Trolls 3 will be back for more hair-raising adventures, and we will continue to diversify our pre-school, kids and adult portfolio of franchises.

Jo Pascoe

Jo Pascoe — Vice President
Consumer Products — Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, and India
Universal Brand Development

Andrew Bromell

Andrew Bromell
Andrew Bromell

At Warner Bros. Consumer Products, we’ve had to adapt our business in many ways; from communicating with our partners virtually to navigating all the pressures that Covid brought upon us, our licensees and retailers. We were faced with new challenges but with the support and collaboration amongst our teams at Warner Bros., as well as our partners who we value tremendously, we have pulled through this period successfully and look forward to a bright future.

With our recent merger with Discovery to form Warner Bros. Discovery, this is truly an exciting time for us as we begin to build out the next chapter; two legacy teams with some of the most cherished stories, brands, and franchises coming together, bringing an unmatched portfolio of movies, television, news, lifestyle, sports, and games.

From a theatrical point of view, we kicked off our biggest DC theatrical slate, starting with the blockbuster and box office hit “The Batman”. We’ll have three more major DC titles later this year, including our animated film, “DC League of Super-Pets”, followed by an epic feature film based on antihero, “Black Adam,” both starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and finally the return of Billy Batson with “Shazam: Fury of the Gods.” In 2023, we’re looking forward to “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom”, “The Flash,” and “Blue Beetle.”

Also in 2023, Warner Bros. will be celebrating the iconic Studio’s 100th birthday and its unmatched legacy of a century of storytelling. For ANZ, this will mean many exciting campaigns across our products and experience business that our partners can leverage.

The Game of Thrones franchise will also be expanding this year with the highly anticipated prequel House of the Dragon coming to Australian screens the same time as it launches in the US on Monday August 22 on Foxtel. Based on George R.R. Martin’s “Fire & Blood,” the series, which is set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, tells the story of House Targaryen. The hype is building on this one, and we know our fans are very excited about it!

Andrew Bromell

And finally, E-commerce and online has also become a clearer focus throughout the pandemic and we know there are some more opportunities to explore here for our business. We also plan to launch new exhibitions and experiences in 2023 that we know will excite our fans. All in all, there are so many green shoots and opportunities on the horizon for Warner Bros. Consumer Products to explore and we’re looking forward to the years ahead.

Andrew Bromell — Vice President
Warner Bros. Consumer Products ANZ

Gail Mitchell

Gail Mitchell
Gail Mitchell

In many ways we were insulated from the effects of the global pandemic as a result of working with two categories of IP which thrived during that time — heritage brands and YouTube influencers.

As an example of a successful heritage brand, Miffy has gone from strength to strength. Whether it is our fantastic partnership with Cotton On globally, our worldwide Interflora program, our local toy relaunch with Jasnor, or the just-signed direct to retail program for 2023; business is strong.

As the world adapted to doing business via Zoom, global borders blurred and almost disappeared. Being based in Australia was no different to being based in the US or UK as we all connected online. As a result, the “green shoots” for us are the addition of global representation vs the localised focus we used to have. We have come out lockdown with a positive outlook and some very exciting opportunities.

We are heading off to Las Vegas with two brand new, amazing properties for which we have global rights — Kung Fu Pork Choppers and Nastya Animation. We have meetings with toy, apparel, publishing, and promotional specialists to allow us to roll these properties out globally.

Gail Mitchell

We are very excited to be heading to the US and not only meeting with potential partners, but seeing our own US and UK team members for the first time in over two years face to face!

Gail Mitchell — CEO
Centa IP

This article originally appeared in The Bugg Report Magazine Edition 41

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