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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The Victoria and Albert Museum is sharing its archive through licensed products. By Alan Dorich
The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), London, was originally established in 1852; its founding principle to make works of art available to all, to educate and to inspire. Today, it is one of the world’s greatest resources of art and design, with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity. The world-renowned institution not only provides visitors with a wealth of sights to see, but a vast archive to draw from for its licensing program.
“It’s really limitless as to what patterns can be applied,” Head of Licensing and Business Development Lauren Sizeland declares. Based in London, the V&A is the world’s leading museum of art and design, with objects that reflect more than 5,000 years of human creativity.
Inspired by the success of the Great Exhibition of 1851, the Museum was founded as part of Prince Albert and Sir Henry Cole’s plan to transform South Kensington into a cultural center. “It was the world’s first trade expo,” Licensing Research and Development Manager Amelia Calver says, explaining that the event was wholly unprecedented in its format, scale, international scope, visitor numbers and profit.
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C3 Entertainment Inc. bridges classic entertainment such as The Three Stooges with more contemporary artists. By Tim O’Connor
Three Stooges fans really are wise guys. When the calendar rolls over to any of The Boys’ birthdays, fans call the offices of C3 Entertainment, the brand owner of The Three Stooges, to wish them a happy birthday.
Sometimes they even call to ask if The Boys are still alive. The staff just laughs and enjoys the calls as if they were one of the Stooges’ famous bits. “It’s actually a good sign, especially if it’s a younger person calling because it reinforces their contemporary relevance,” Marketing and Social Media Manager Andrea DeLesDernier says.
The Three Stooges silly slapstick comedy remains just as popular today among longtime fans and all generations. Even after 20 years with the company, Ani Khachoian, executive vice president of licensing, merchandising and distribution, still finds herself surprised by some of the requests she receives. She’s been asked to sign off on everything from clearances for a Three Stooges-themed birthday cake to rap lyrics. “I’ve seen throughout the years younger generations and more women become fans,” Khachoian says.
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PBR has turned eight seconds of excitement into a powerful global brand. By Chris Kelsch
Twenty-five years ago, bull riding was just one of seven individual rodeo events. Then, in 1992, 20 bull riders got together and decided the sport of bull riding could be popular enough to stand apart from the rodeo circuit. They each put up $1,000 as an investment to start a modest tour, but it is doubtful they could have imagined what it has become today.
Professional Bull Riders (PBR) has since become one of the world’s fastest-growing sports and entertainment entities. Billed as “the toughest sport on dirt,” PBR now draws more than three million fans to more than 200 global live events. Its television broadcasts reach more than 400 million households in 40 countries, and it has paid to PBR’s cowboys more than $150 million in prize money since it was created. According to one ESPN poll, the sport now boasts 60 million fans in the U.S. alone.
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The Ohio State University licenses products that help alums show their loyalty to the university.
By Alan Dorich
The ways products are licensed for colleges have changed over the past 30 years, Rick Van Brimmer says. “Back into the ‘80s, the people standing at your tailgate were probably wearing a sweatshirt [with the college logo] under their regular jacket [or] a t-shirt when it was warmer,” he recalls.
Now when people go to a tailgate party, the college’s logos can be seen on nearly everything, including tents, tables, grills, food products, and even paper towels and plates. “Now that passion and loyalty [to a school] is reflected in all the products that are there,” he says.
Van Brimmer is an assistant vice president for business advancement, affinity and trademark management for The Ohio State University, which has licensed products with its name since 1974. Located in Columbus, Ohio, the college opened its main campus 144 years ago and was recently ranked 16th among the nation’s best public universities by U.S. News & World Report.
The licensing program, Van Brimmer says, began when a part-time paralegal in Ohio State’s contract office began registering its marks. “That was a woman named Anne Chasser, who is one of the legends of the industry and my boss for several years before I took over,” he recalls.
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