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?
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?
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?
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.