WWE’s toy licensing partnerships with Mattel, Playmates and others play a big role in the sports entertainment giant’s consumer product dominance. By Jim Harris
Somewhere in the world right now, John Cena and the Ultimate Warrior are having an epic match for the WWE Championship. Elsewhere, “Macho Man” Randy Savage and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin could be forming a partnership to take on the Wyatt Family.
These time-bending matchups will not happen on WWE’s flagship shows Monday Night Raw or SmackDown Live. However, thanks to WWE’s relationships with toymakers such as Mattel, anything is possible in the hands and imaginations of its millions of fans.
Action figures bearing the likenesses of WWE Superstars have been a major part of the sports entertainment leader’s toy licensing strategy for more than 30 years. Mattel – the world’s largest toy maker in terms of revenue – has been the company’s action figure licensee since 2010.
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Mars Retail Group works closely with licensing partners to bring new M&M’S® offerings to consumers and retail customers everywhere. By Stephanie Crets
Mars Retail Group is taking the candy world by storm and bringing incredible offerings to its customers every day. From its delicious chocolate candy to fun, well-known characters, M&M’S® has something for everyone. For more than 75 years, the brand has brought colorful chocolate fun to M&M’S® fans around the world and Mars Retail Group is helping to further that ambition.
“Our goal within Retail Brand Activation has always been to bring some of the unique experiences of M&M’S® World and MY M&M’S® to life with our everyday retail partners,” says Director, Retail Brand Activation, John Capizzi. “It’s really about fine-tuning our overall offering to our customers.”
Mars Retail Group operates on the basis of three executions: licensing, Colorworks and mass customization. Licensing brings unique branded merchandise across all channels, including mass drug, grocery retail and digital. “It gives people a small sample of the wonderful products they can find in our M&M’S® World stores,” Capizzi notes.
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Welch’s continues to expand its licensing program to extend its brand portfolio into categories that promote fruit, health and taste. By Janice Hoppe-Spiers
Family farmers have been at the heart of Welch’s for more than a century. Vineyards have been cultivated for generations to expertly grow Concord and Niagara grapes, which are used to provide families with the 100 percent grape juice and jelly for which Welch’s is known and trusted.
“The interesting thing about Welch’s is that it can play in the health, flavor and fun categories,” Head of Global Licensing Glenn Hendricks says. “Baby boomers and millennial moms love our juice for both the taste and heart health benefits. They grew up with it and raised their children on it; there’s an affinity there. We are a trusted brand and consumers know the quality will be great.”
In 1869, Thomas Bramwell Welch was the first to pasteurize bottled fruit juice using Concord grapes, founding the company and the modern, unfermented juice version we drink today. After debuting at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Welch’s Grape Juice went on to become the national family favorite it remains today.
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With a new executive team leading licensing and retail, Sony Pictures aims to expand and capitalize on licensing opportunities from existing and new intellectual property. By Bianca Herron
At Sony Pictures, Consumer Products has become an area of renewed focus in the motion picture group. Last year, the Culver City, Calif.-based company tapped veteran marketing and licensing executive Jamie Stevens as executive vice president of worldwide consumer products and licensing. Today, Stevens oversees the motion picture group’s product and licensing opportunities for the studio’s IP, including such film franchises as Jumanji, Hotel Transylvania, The Smurfs and Ghostbusters.
According to Stevens, she believes that Sony Pictures’ focus on developing merchandisable films, especially in animation, will lead to long-term revenue potential for the studio.
“I now have a seat at the table when a decision is made about the types of film we make,” she says. “It’s an important step that addresses our growth in the global marketplace and sets us apart from other studios. I joined the company almost a year ago and I looked at this as an opportunity to refocus the Consumer Products group and bring in top talent that could help take our licensing business and our properties to the next level.”
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As Shoe Carnival prepares to open up more locations in various sized population centers, the company aims to remain successful by catering to its customers’ needs. By Bianca Herron
Shoe Carnival has become one of the nation’s largest family footwear retailers since it was founded in 1978, providing customers the convenience of shopping at more than 420 stores in 38 states and Puerto Rico. The Evansville, Ind.-based company’s mission is to provide name-brand merchandise at discount prices. However, the company is most well known for its carnival atmosphere offering customers a unique and fun shopping experience.
“Most notably, in our stores we have a position that is called the ‘mic guy,’” says Brad Gubser, vice president of store planning and development. “Both men and women hold this position, and on any given day the mic guy has a long list of various sales, or rotations as we call them, the store can offer up to cater to the customers in the store at that point in time. In this way we can adjust and cater to specific types of customers, and personalize their shopping experience.
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With a pet-first mentality, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition aims to consistently provide animals with high-quality foods.
By Bianca Herron
Ainsworth Pet Nutrition believes in families—whether they have two legs or four. The Meadville, Pa.-based company was founded more than 75 years ago by George Ainsworth Lang, with a commitment to providing dogs and cats with the safest, highest quality foods.
Since its start in 1933, the Meadville, Pa.-based company has always made affordability for its consumers, also known as “pet parents,” a key priority of Ainsworth. Lang launched the company after one of his dogs had a litter of puppies. It was during the Great Depression and he started making his own dog food to feed the pups. Little did Lang know it would turn into a thriving business.
Today, the company is proud to continue upholding that tradition with the launch of two new projects in 2017 from Rachael Ray™ Nutrish®, Vice President of Marketing Steve Joyce says.
“We will be launching Peak™, a new dry dog food line that is meat first, grain free, contains 30 percent protein, and includes novel proteins like venison, duck and quail,” Joyce says. “We will also be launching a line of fun, tasty, meat-first treats that include Deli Cuts™, Savory Roasters™, Meatloaf Morsels™, Burger Bites and Pawsta™ formulas. Consumers can look for these new products at their local retailers, or online, starting in the first quarter of next year.”
Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® is an Ainsworth owned and developed brand that was launched in collaboration with Rachael Ray in 2008. “In 2007, a colleague at an Ainsworth sister company was watching a late night TV talk show where Rachael was discussing just how much she loved her pit bull, Isaboo,” Joyce explains. “That colleague was able to track down Rachael’s husband and the rest, as they say, is history.”
The brand has since been responsible for much of the company’s growth in recent years, accounting for $300 million in consumption in 2015, according to Joyce. Adding that, Ainsworth’s collaboration with Rachael Ray is extremely important, not only because the partnership has helped the company offer wholesome, meat-first foods to dogs and cats everywhere, but also because consumers know the nutritious-minded celebrity chef is someone they can trust.
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Benefit Cosmetics solidifies its place as the leader in brow products and services while it stays true to its customers’ beauty needs.
By Stephanie Crets
Are your brows behaving badly? Do you want your eyelashes to stand out? Do you need to minimize the dark circles under your eyes? Whatever the beauty dilemma, Benefit Cosmetics has the beauty solution.
“The great thing about Benefit is that it’s a brand for every gal,” Senior Vice President of Marketing Nicole Frusci says. “We are all about instant beauty solutions – looking at customer needs and solving their beauty dilemmas. From in-store to social media, we weave our DNA through everything we do. Bold and girly is one piece, along with laughter and fun, which are elements of the persona and personality of the brand that we try to live out loud every single day.”
With more than 1,800 locations worldwide in 47 markets, including 30 in the United States, Benefit products are widely accessible. Benefit offers several ways customers can purchase products: Benefit Boutiques, gondolas in beauty retailers such as Sephora, Ulta and Macy’s locations and all retailer websites including Birchbox.com. The boutiques set the pace for a salon-style experience, where the associates will take their time giving a service to the customer and offering tips and tricks. For the gondolas, however, Benefit has to compete with an array of other beauty brands.
“My approach is big, bold, girly and pink,” Senior Director of Visual Merchandising Ralph Johnson says. “We have kitschy, fun and playful marketing visuals, funny sayings and irreverent packaging, but we have to deliver on a serious product. We go the extra mile to create custom, quality packaging that stands out at retail. The product begs to be glorified in a special way with our creative fixtures. For example, our Roller Lash mascara is merchandised on a giant hair roller. We have the opportunity to be fun and crazy with each product.”
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HVHC’s Visionworks has been ranked #150 on Forbes’ national “Best Employers” list, among companies within a range of industries and institutions, and was also ranked #14 on the related “Best Employers in Texas” report. With feedback like that, it’s easy to see how exciting it is to be a part of the HVHC family. At a time when many companies are scaling back their employee and even customer experience, HVHC is showing the industry how to succeed.
To properly introduce HVHC, it’s necessary to understand just what comprises this quickly growing corporation. Headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, HVHC Inc. and its subsidiaries make up one of the largest vertically integrated optical companies in the United States and are leaders in integrated vision care solutions. HVHC is a three--spoke corporation comprised of national optical retailer, Visionworks, managed vision care provider; Davis Vision; and HVHC Distribution and Manufacturing, the operations arm that supports Visionworks and Davis Vision. These three branches interact in a mutually beneficial relationship, supporting each other’s industries and providing a comprehensive customer experience.
From its inception in 1984, Visionworks, then called Eye Care Centers of America, has been a retailer with a passion. Whether it’s providing regular eye exams to encourage health and wellness or helping a customer to express their individual style with dozens of top fashions, Visionworks goes well beyond the business of eyewear, creating a collective calling shared by every employee. This calling is to make sure that every customer that enters a Visionworks store leaves with the best possible vision and a style that fits their self-expression. “At the end of the day, people come to us because they want to have the best possible vision they can have,” Visionworks President and HVHC President and CEO Jim Eisen emphasizes. Visionworks takes that desire and makes it a company mission.
In 2006, Eye Care Centers of America and Davis Vision joined forces, providing members with access to the largest selection of fashionable eyewear. Founded 100 years ago as Davis Optical, Davis Vision now has more than 60,000 points of access, while remaining true to its family owned American roots and values. More than 22 million members enjoy the lowest possible out-of-pocket cost, due largely to the integrated business model of HVHC, which relies on Visionworks retail stores and wholly owned labs. While Visionworks offers its customers all the products and services necessary to serve their vision needs, Davis Vision improves on that experience through improved plan designs and ready access to high-quality, fashionable eyewear and state-of-the-art eye care services.
HVHC Distribution and Manufacturing provides the products and operations necessary to make Visionworks and Davis Vision the successes they are. HVHC Distribution and Manufacturing encompasses five fabrication labs and two distribution centers, all proudly based in the United States. With these resources, HVHC fabricated and delivered more than 4.8 million pairs of eyewear in 2016. By eliminating any intermediary, HVHC Distribution and Manufacturing is able to ensure that every product sold in a Visionworks store is of the highest quality and that out-of-pocket costs for Davis Vision customers are as low as possible. With unique partnerships, top expertise and advanced robotics and processing equipment, HVHC Distribution and Manufacturing brings Visionworks and Davis Vision to life.
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