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Universal Brand Development — March 2020

We speak to Jo Pascoe — Universal Brand Development VP Consumer Products Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia and India.


Thank you for speaking with The Bugg Report. As an introduction, can you tell us about Universal Brand Development?

Universal Brand Development (UBD) was established four years ago with the objective of building brands and expanding consumer engagement around the world. We are fuelled by our creative content partners Universal Pictures, Illumination, DreamWorks and NBCUniversal and we have an incredibly diverse and powerful portfolio that reflects the modern world around us. From immersive experiences to designer collaborations – it’s about curating the best partners for the right activation and tapping into our local culture. We’ve also grown the organisation 10-fold over the last 3 years, from a single office in North America to 14 offices covering 22 countries – of which, excitingly includes us! In my opinion, we have secured the best team in the business to continue us on our local growth trajectory.

(Image below left-to-right: Adeline Hunter, Cassandra Dodds, Jo Pascoe, Chrystal Remington, Kate Gardam, Anna Pearson, Lisa Williams)

UNIVERSAL IS A CHALLENGER BRAND

We’re looking for innovation at every turn and that is fuelling our rapid growth. We are increasing our investment in content, connection and product to propel us forward into our next phase of expansion. 2020 is going to be our biggest year yet, where we will demonstrate that the greatest stories truly are Universal.

I agree, 2020 is going to be a big year with the release of DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour later this month.
What can we expect to see?

The Trolls franchise has grown to become one of the largest global entertainment brands. Australians can’t get enough and the highly anticipated sequel; DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour will be landing in Australian cinemas 26 March and New Zealand cinemas 2 April. We kicked off our consumer products launch with a media event on World Hug Day and the results were phenomenal. Our media pick up reached 290 million and included celebrity attendance from the likes of David Warner. All-new toys and lifestyle collections are now taking over local retail shelves and we are thrilled to have new innovative partners on board; cumulating to a local cross category collection of +300 SKUs. Beyond the film release, we will continue to excite girls with our hit TV series on Netflix, a new cross-category consumer products program to support second half including the DVD new release, original digital always on content and shopping mall offerings from Showtime Attractions. And that’s just 2020.

And in the year of sequels, I’ve heard the Minions are back for Minions: The Rise of Gru. It’s been 10 years since the first Despicable Me movie released, so what is going to excite fans this time around?

In partnership with Illumination, we will launch the most curated and innovative global consumer products program for this franchise later next month. Locally, we’re thrilled to have strong anchor partners such as Mattel, LEGO, Just Play, Caprice, Colgate-Palmolive, Hunter Leisure, ZAK!, Parmalat and Scholastic to name a few that will deliver new innovative product. Also be on the look out as we take over grocery shelves.

THE DESPICABLE ME AND MINIONS FRANCHISE IS THE HIGHEST GROSSING ANIMATED FRANCHISE OF ALL TIME

Digitally, our mobile game Minion Rush will continue to drop new content. It is one of the most downloaded games of all-time, with more than 900 million and counting. Not many brands can make this statement, but it shows that our Minions are standing the test of time. Australians can’t get enough with 83% of kids 5-12 having viewed at least one movie and 84% of generals 13-54 having heard of the franchise. Minions are a pop cultural phenomenon. The much-anticipated sequel Minions: The Rise of Gru, lands in Australian cinemas 18 June and New Zealand cinemas 25 June.

Dinosaurs seem to be all the trend and have heightened since the release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in 2018. Is there still the story to tell?

You bet there is! Jurassic World is larger than life and this $5 billion film series delivers a destination for exploration, discovery and epic adventure. We know kids want more content and we’re excited to bring them just that. Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, an all-new animated series from Universal Pictures, DreamWorks Animation Television and Amblin Entertainment, coming to Netflix second half 2020. Mattel will be launching new toys, plus we will have cross category and promotional partners. LEGO Jurassic World: Legend of Isla Nublar will continue to air on Nickelodeon and 9GO! next month and looking ahead at 2021, we will have the third instalment in the Jurassic World film series releasing in June. We have many more roarsome announcements to come, so watch this space!

Jo, are there any other properties we should keep an eye on?

There sure are. DreamWorks Spirit: Riding Free has expanded rapidly from a Netflix TV series to a cross category licensing program at retail. With viewership growth expanding since our launch on ABC ME, we recently announced a feature film inspired by Spirit: Riding Free, coming to cinemas in 2021. DreamWorks Dragons will celebrate its 10th anniversary which allows fans to get deeper into the Dragon world. The team at Spin Master will release brand new toys and we have new seasons and specials from our animated series DreamWorks Dragons: Rescue Riders on Netflix for our younger fans. The Ninth Chapter in the Fast & Furious saga hits Australian cinemas 21 May and we will launch a new line of toys with partners Mattel, Jada and LEGO. Our brand-new kids and family series from DreamWorks Animation Television and Universal Pictures Fast & Furious: Spy Racers will continue to drop new seasons on Netflix. We are also going back in time to celebrate 35 years of the beloved film franchise; Back to the Future with fans events around the world, anniversary cross category consumer products, theatrical re-releases and digital content. And finally, in 2021; we will bring you more theatrical releases, more TV content, more anniversary celebrations and more local partnerships to unlock opportunities together at retail.