The fact is that the major headlines and news events of 2010 will influence brand licensing and retail in 2011 and beyond. Here are 10 examples of prominent newsmakers that are worth tracking as stories continue to unfold.
- The formation Saban Brands. With a war chest of $500 million and the financial backing of Haim Saban, chairman of Saban Capital Group and creator of Power Rangers, this brand management company wasted no time making two major property acquisitions–Power Rangers and Paul Frank–and staffing up with more than 50 new execs in all disciplines.
- The return of "Power Rangers." Saban Brands reintroduced this dormant kids' property with a global marketing blitz and an appearance in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The new series will debut on Nickelodeon Feb. 7 and licensed merchandise will continue to roll out throughout the year, potentially having a major impact at retail particularly in the boy's toy segment.
- The reorganization of DC Entertainment. The sleeping giant of superhero content has awoken and Green Lantern will be the first of its new characters to hit the big screen in June. Warner Bros. Consumer Products has been gearing up worldwide for the event that could not only be a blockbuster film at box office, but a dominant consumer products bonanza at retail.
- The debut of Disney's new store format. Disney has proven once again that retailers can be innovative and shoppers can enjoy the in-store experience. The new format is not only a showcase for its exclusive merchandise but also for all its new and classic properties and theme parks.
- The launch of Apple's iPad. It's truly amazing how one high tech product has spawned a multibillion dollar accessories market as well as thousands of new apps. While the jury is still out as to whether it will save publishing, it certainly has generated new magazine apps as well as popular new gaming titles.
- The acquisition of Nancy Bailey & Associates by Beanstalk. This is yet another example of consolidation as a smaller boutique agency becomes part of one of the industry's biggest licensing agencies that is part of Omnicom. The big winner here is perhaps Procter & Gamble as its brand extensions business, which was handled separately by both agents, could benefit from best practices of both firms.
- The acquisition of Peanuts by Iconix Brand Group. As the world's second largest licensor and a major force in DTR brand deals, Iconix could provide the right platform to significantly expand Peanuts business and give it a certain fashion cache worldwide.
- The debut of The Hub. The Hasbro and Discovery Communications joint venture, which premiered in October, is posting decent viewership and is in a ratings battle with its competitors Disney XD, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. The Hub has been a showcase for new programming, but it will take significant time, marketing and promotion to establish a strong audience.
- The sale of HIT Entertainment. A new home for Thomas, Bob, and other properties will certainly change the dynamics in a crowded and competitive kids entertainment and licensing segment.
- The acquisition of celebrity icons. It wouldn't be a normal year without a few deals among dead celebrities–Moda Licensing just acquired Joe DiMaggio and Authentic Brands got Marilyn Monroe. While not everyone can build a licensing business to the extent of Elvis Presley, there is still some opportunity for iconic names that have a strong connection with consumers.
These are just some examples of news and deals that will have a ripple affect in brand licensing and retail throughout 2011. Now is the time to strategize accordingly.