The exclusive cover story about Mattel's new vision, (see "Think Global, Play Local"), is the story of how this "toy" company is making the transition to global brand management company. It's a classic case study of how a conservative U.S. company is morphing into a hip and progressive global entity with diverse licensing programs and local market expertise.
Many of Mattel's initiatives also represent what's happening in the business of brand licensing especially with this month's Licensing International Expo bringing together licensors, agents, licensees and retailers from around the world. From exclusive designer apparel and accessories to other innovative product brand extensions, from mobile apps to social media to multi-platform entertainment, not only does Mattel exemplify many of the industry-wide trends, but also do others featured in this special issue.
Consider the following:
- Designer collections–Mattel has taken Barbie to runways and high-end retailers worldwide. Other global licensors have also pushed the envelope beyond mass pursuing various fashion designer deals for franchise properties.
- Entertainment platforms–There was a time when entertainment simply meant big or small screen and everything else followed, including licensed products. But now, as Mattel has demonstrated for its new property, the traditional launch is no longer always appropriate. Mattel launched Monster High last year with books, webisodes, online, gaming, social media and apps, as well as extensive consumer products. Traditional television and theatrical will follow. Also, several popular mobile gaming apps (see Moshi Monsters story) will likely follow a similar path of development culminating on the big screen or TV where historically the majority of long-standing properties always began.
- Superhero power–With the number of summer blockbusters slated, this sector is showing no signs of waning. Marvel has Captain America debuting this summer and Warner Bros. has Green Lantern. Much of the behind-the-scenes discussions for Marvel and Warner Bros. at this year's expo will be focused on 2012 and the release of The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. And there might also be some talk about The Amazing Spider-Man and other films (see FlickPics), one of the few sectors in which Mattel doesn't have a major piece of the action... yet.
- Kid power–While so many licensors are going after the tween market and extending to young adults, the kids sector is still lucrative. Mattel continues to look for innovative ways to reach kids as are other licensors including FremantleMedia Enterprises (see Child's Play) and Disney (see A Wealth of Opportunities) as they develop new properties.
- Global expansion–Mattel is focused on thinking global and acting local, as are many other global licensors. Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes franchise (see WBCP Shows How It Should Be Done), Paramount's Tintin (see A New Spirit), Entertainment One's Peppa Pig (see Peppa Pig: On Track for U.S. Success) and many other properties, are aggressively expanding globally.
- Co-branding–While Mattel is aggressively co-branding its Hot Wheels franchise with major racing personalities, Marvel is partnering with various non-traditional companies and retailers such as its recent deal with NYC & Company (see The Power of Co-Branding).
- Mobile apps–This popular area will be one of the most talked about trends in terms of brand licensing strategies as everyone wants to capitalize on the huge popularity that apps are experiencing.
- Retail and consumer insights–Regardless of the popularity of any property at the box office, on TV or in downloads, the most important long-term success factor for any licensor or licensee is the understanding of retailer goals and consumer needs. This is one of Mattel's key commitments and in this highly competitive global marketplace it should be a top strategic goal for every company that wants to get its products on retail shelves.
With this special issue and a sold out convention, License! Global once again delivers on its strategic goal to be the source of insights and trends in brand licensing and Licensing International Expo delivers on its goal to bring the marketplace together on the exhibition floor.
Enjoy the Issue and enjoy the Expo!