Brand Licensing Expo

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Inside Licensing: Interview with Konami’s Careen Yapp

Jason Schreier: is an NYC-based freelance reporter/editor who writes for, the Onion News Network, and a number of other sites and publications. His work has also been featured in Time, CNN, and NPR. He graduated NYU in 2009 (go Violets!) and is a hopeless, yet passionate Jets/Nets fan. You can follow him on twitter @JasonSchreier

Q: So first of all, could you tell me a little about what Konami is doing here at the show, what your goals are?

A: Well, the number one goal and the reason we have a booth is because we are building merchandising and licensing programs for our brands. A couple of the brands that we’re focusing on this year include

·      Metal Gear Solid 3D and Silent Hill.

·      Downpour, which are both coming out this fall.

·      Pro Evolution Soccer, specifically in the Latin American territories, as it is the number one soccer game in those territories. So really trying to build our merchandising programs is the main goal.

Q: So what kind of brands, what kind of products are you looking at?

A: The traditional categories are very easy for us to obtain, so things like publishing for strategy guides, publishing for graphic novels, accessories, apparel, electronics. But we are also trying to meet with other licensees to see if there’s something a little bit more intriguing to build a merchandising program. What we’d like to do is really take our brand and expand the universe and make sure that the consumer is able to incorporate our brand into their lifestyle.

So for instance, we did a deal for Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, for high end apparel which is available online right now. It’s great clothing – you can see this jacket, which [Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima] actually took a picture of himself wearing.

It looks like anything that anybody would wear in Europe, or New York, or Tokyo – but it’s a Metal Gear jacket, and if you look closely you can see small embellishments that reflect the Metal Gear Solid brand. So for us, it’s about providing the apparel with the logos, and the artwork, in addition to expanding that into a lifestyle.

Q: What are the other brands you’re showing here?

A: Castlevania is a big one for us. And Frogger – we have some exciting things happening with the Frogger 30th Anniversary – you’ll probably be able to see some apparel and accessories. There are lottery tickets available, and other things we haven’t announced yet. The coolest thing – and this is kind of a sidenote – the lottery ticket is actually very large, and it has three little frogs. When you scratch, you see arrows come up and you’re literally playing the game on the lottery ticket. But every once in a while, the arrow makes your frog run into a car or jump in the lake.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share about your successes here so far?

A: The licensing show is an important event for us, not only from a licensing perspective but from an acquisitions perspective, just learning what’s going on in the entertainment industry. I think that having this gaming area is great, having the participation of so many key players in the market is just fantastic – it shows that the video game industry is at a level where not only the consumers love us and pay attention to us, but it’s a great way for retailers and other licensees to understand that this is an important business.

Filed under LX11 Licensing Expo Game Licensing Social Gaming Interactive Gaming

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Inside Game Licensing: Interview with Sega’s Cindy Chau

Jason Schreier:is an NYC-based freelance reporter/editor who writes for, the Onion News Network, and a number of other sites and publications. His work has also been featured in Time, CNN, and NPR. He graduated NYU in 2009 (go Violets!) and is a hopeless, yet passionate Jets/Nets fan. You can follow him on twitter@JasonSchreier

Q: For starters, tell me a little bit about what Sega is doing at the show – what is your purpose for being here?

A: The purpose for doing the show is to really promote Sonic the Hedgehog, the brand/character, it’s going to be his 20th anniversary coming up on the 23rd of this month. So it’s really selling branding, 20 years of a really iconic character in the video game industry, celebrating the licensing program we’ve had over the past few years. Back in the 90s he was really a household brand, and he’s expanded across all categories. And to this day we’re still doing amazing things with Sonic the Hedgehog.

We have a great toy program at Toys’R’Us that we’ve also expanded into Walmart and Target. He does outstanding in mass as well as specialty, reaching all age groups – anywhere from 7 to 25 as we get the younger kids playing the games. And then you have the retro properties, which touch the nostalgia, appeal to the older gamers. It does very well.

Q: With Sonic Generations coming out this November, are there big plans for licensing tie-ins?

A: We do have big plans for licensing. We are doing a 20thanniversary branding across all of our brand games. It started January 2011 and will carry on throughout December. We did tie-ins with our ice cream partner and our toy partner. We also have our home décor partner, the accessory guys and they’ve all been doing fantastic 

Q: Is there anything in particular you’re looking to get out of the show – any specific kinds of licensing deals?

A: Increased exposure for Sonic. We’ve had a lot of new pitches and proposals for Sonic so far. Just this whole part of the show was great – lot of exposure, people are reaching out left and right. We’re just rejuvenating the brand for Sonic.

Q: Are you looking to brand any of Sonic’s friends, like Tails and Knuckles et al?

A: Yeah, we have Shadow, Knuckles, Tails does quite well. Our entire cast of characters does just fabulously.

Filed under LX11 Licensing Expo Game Licensing Social Gaming Interactive Gaming

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Inside Licensing: Interview with Electronic Arts’ Patrick O’Brien

Jason Schreier:is an NYC-based freelance reporter/editor who writes for, the Onion News Network, and a number of other sites and publications. His work has also been featured in Time, CNN, and NPR. He graduated NYU in 2009 (go Violets!) and is a hopeless, yet passionate Jets/Nets fan. You can follow him on twitter@JasonSchreier

Q: So first of all, tell me a little about what EA is doing here at the show?

A: This is our third year at the show and we are meeting with a lot of our existing partners, meeting with potential new partners. There’s been a real growth in interactive entertainment licensing, partly because if you look at the connected nature of our games, and the growth of them, the whole industry is kind of heading towards a blockbuster industry. So you’ll see Battlefield for us is huge, you know Mass Effect, Need for Speed, FIFA, Madden – same with our competitors. As you have fewer and bigger games, the footprint is larger and it sort of lends itself to licensing and you want to be out there providing stuff to people wherever they are.

Q: Could you give me a couple of examples of the types of new licensing deals you’re looking for here?

A: Well, I’d rather give you a couple examples of the ones we’re launching in the fall.

·      So we’ve got a really nice deal with Mega brands, doing Need for Speed Megablocks cars and we’re partnering with them, with a number of retailers here and in Europe at the launch of our game, with the launch of our toys to create a significant retail footprint.

·      We do a lot in the fanboy animation, novels, comics world – we do a lot of figures deals. A lot of our brands that are the most licensable are things like Mass Effect, set in an alternate universe and so on – and they lend themselves to kinda fanboy collectors.

·      And a lot of apparel – we do a lot of online sales (our fans are online) so we’ve got a lot of online deals at, etc. We’re able to market and sell directly to our fans.

Q: When I was at E3 last week, everyone was wearing those N7 brands.

A: The N7 hoodies – it’s the Coach bag for men!

Q: So with something like Madden, how would you license something that’s already a license of something else (the NFL)?

A: Well, we license EA Sports. So we have a whole team here from EA Sports that has entered into licensing in a big way – they have a number of deals that they haven’t announced yet, but that are coming up this summer/fall.

Q: Anything you can hint at?

A: I’ll let them handle that!

Q: No worries! Have you done any licensing with EA Sports already?

A: Yeah, they’ve done peripheral deals, they’ve done apparel deals… they did some kinda educational toys where you’re learning how to hit a baseball, how to play soccer because of the mechanics in the ball or the bat.

Q: Great. Is there anything else you want to share with readers as far as your strategy here at the expo?

A: You know, we’re constantly educating people. We’re finding that even now, interactive is bigger than film, and particularly with social connectivity it’s just getting bigger and bigger. We’re still educating the licensing community on who we are, who our demographic is and why these are attractive licenses. And I think that’s 50% of the reason why we’re here is to constantly enforce what the interactive industry is all about.

(Source: )

Filed under LX11 Licensing Expo Social Gaming Interactive Gaming Game Licensing

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Inside Licensing: Interview with Activisons’s Geoff Carroll

Jason Schreier: is an NYC-based freelance reporter/editor who writes for, the Onion News Network, and a number of other sites and publications. His work has also been featured in Time, CNN, and NPR. He graduated NYU in 2009 (go Violets!) and is a hopeless, yet passionate Jets/Nets fan. You can follow him on twitter@JasonSchreier

Q: Could you tell me a bit about what Activision is doing here – what your goals are at the expo? 

A: Activision has been very focused on making great entertainment, great games. We have Call of Duty, we have the Blizzard titles like World of Warcraft, as well as Skylanders, which is our huge kids IP. We also have Guitar Hero and others. We haven’t focused too much on licensing and partnerships, but we think that gaming in particular is now starting to transcend all of entertainment so franchises like Call of Duty are just as relevant for merchandising and licensing as Avatar. So we really wanna build up that part of the business, find partners who share our values, find premium categories, premium merchandise… so that’s why we’re here. 

Q: Could you tell me a little bit about the type of licensing you’re looking for, for, say, Call of Duty?

A: Sure, so Call of Duty is obviously a market leader in gaming now, with 30+ million gamers and 8-10 million folks playing on any given night. It’s almost become its own TV network at this point – so how do we find partners who are premium, who could be premium retailers with us, maybe to have innovation design, innovation materials and really just lead in merchandise like we lead in gaming? This is a great place to find all those folks, and we’ve been doing great so far.

Q: Is there any specific type of merchandise you guys are looking at for Call of Duty?

A: We’re looking at every category, but honestly we want only merchandise, only categories that make sense and feel legitimate – feel like Call of Duty. So we’re very careful in looking at all those – I wouldn’t say we have one in particular, but you know, apparel merchandise can be very big for us and we’re looking at all the above.

Q: Is this Activision’s first time at the show?

A: You know, we’ve been here before but this is our first time having this big a presence – having a big 40 by 40 booth and showing people that we’re really serious about licensing.

Filed under LX11 Licensing Expo Gaming Licensing Interactive Gaming Social Gaming

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Case Study: Navigating a Cause Licensing Agreement

During the 2011 Licensing Expo in Las Vegas last week, one of the hottest topics was Cause Marketing in the licensing industry.  The class was put together in order to teach the various models that exist in the for-profit and non-profit worlds when it comes to licensing relationships and their successes and failures.

Speakers included:

Tony Summers, director of Production and Licensing for National Wildlife Federation
Dawn Ciccone, senior director of Brand Licensing for PBS and PBS Kids
John Merrick, founder of Lemur Licensing

Cause Marketing is a partnership between a non-profit and a for-profit  formed in order to create a mutual profit.  Within cause marketing you have Sponsorships, Promotions, and Licensing. 

Here I highlight the various topics that were covered during the seminar:

Why do Brands Implement Cause Marketing?:

For the charity, things like building brand equity and brand awareness, revenue, increased reach, becoming competitive, and brand extension all take center stage. 

For the company, it’s about creating an emotional connection with the consumer, increasing market share, and creating incremental lift in sales.

The Effectiveness of Cause Marketing:

According to a Cone Group Study, 85% of consumers have a more positive outlook on brands that embrace cause marketing and 65% would switch to a brand upon learning their involvement.  But one might argue whether this can really be viewed as accurate.  People often say one thing and do another. 

One example was brought up by Dawn Ciccone who called upon an example of a cause marketing effort done with PBS kids and Philosophy skin care.  They created a core product that was not in alignment with a cause and the same product that was in alignment with a cause.  The core product outsold the cause product.  This, they believe, was attributed to the fact that the cause product did cost a bit more and consumers just weren’t willing or able to spend more money, even if it was associated with charitable giving.

But for those consumers who do embrace cause marketing and charitable donation through purchasing, they tend to do so because it truly is an expression of their values and a personal connection with the brand.  They feel good about the fact that they can donate through their purchasing power.

Licensing for Non-Profits:

If one piece of advice can be sited when deciding whether a non-profit should align itself with a brand it is to make sure you’re in a space that makes sense for your brand and speaks to your core audience. 

Brand fit is extremely important.  If you look back at case studies or any unsuccessful licensing done in the past, you will often find that the brand fit just wasn’t there.  The company you choose to work with must align with your brand and fit your strengths and weaknesses.

Editor’s Note: While this piece of advice was offered to the Non-Profit side of Cause Marketing, this writer ventures to say that it is completely applicable to the Company side of the partnership.  While supporting a deserving cause of any kind is commendable, choosing a cause that compliments your brand and makes sense to your current customer base seems like a smart move. 

Choosing the Right Form of Licensing for your Brand:

There are two forms of licensing a brand can choose to focus on: Affiliate Licensing and Endorsement Licensing.

Affiliate Licensing, while powerful, can cause concerns around the revenue of a brand.  An example of this is when a credit card company wanted to become an affiliate of PBS.  PBS met this with opposition because, as they saw it, if using your credit card made you a supporter of PBS, then why would you ever take out your checkbook and make a separate donation?

The only way to avoid this pitfall is to test it.  Create a list of credit card affiliate holders and follow their additional donations.  If they’re not donating, then it’s not a good licensing agreement and should be re-evaluated.

The messaging (how you tell the consumer what they are supporting) is very important. Affiliate licensing requires total transparency and brands venturing into the area should be in touch with the Better Business Bureau to fully understand the compliance laws and rules.

Endorsement Licensing, can often be met with opposition on the part of the non-profit.  They tend to not like the word “endorsement” , they often don’t like to be seen as “endorsing” anything.  But endorsement licensing can be very powerful for the brand that is associated with the non-profit.

There are a lot of brands out there that want to be associates with PBS Kids; simply based on the feeling of trust it gives consumers.  That is why PBS kids is extremely careful about any endorsements they may consider.

Sometimes endorsements don’t immediately make sense but upon further consideration, there can be many successful partnerships formed through them.  An example is when GreenWorks, a cleaning supply brand, was endorsed by Sierra Club, an environmental non-profit.  Yes, cleaning products are bad for the environment but when GreenWorks creates a product that is 99% chemical free doesn’t it make sense, as an environmental cause, to support such efforts? 

How Do I Know if My Brand is Right for Licensing?:

Brands need to evaluate by looking inward.

·       Do you have enough awareness; do people know who you are?

·       Do you tell a story?

·       Do you have an emotional connection?

·       Does it fit you legal business structure?

·       Does senior management “get it”?  If not, an education must come first.

·       Can you financially support the effort?

·       Do you have patience in seeing return?  These things take time.

What Makes a Cause Licensing Relationship a Success?

Before anything else, it’s important to set expectations before going into a licensing partnership.  Then make sure everyone involved understands their role and responsibilities. Success is measured by whether those roles were filled and those expectations were met and/or exceeded.

Nicole Giordano has an established a career as a social media strategist and brand ambassador for a variety of fashion-based companies. Giordano is the founder and editor of StartUp FASHION, a resource for emerging fashion professionals, as well as, a textile and accessory blog which concentrates on ethical and slow fashion. You can follow her on Twitter @NicoleMGiordano.

Filed under cause marketing licensing agreements licensing expo lx11