The Walt Disney Company and Hanesbrands Inc. signed a 10-year strategic alliance that includes basic apparel exclusivity for the Hanes and Champion brands, product co-branding, attraction sponsorships, and other brand visibility and signage at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts properties. Hanes will be the presenting sponsor of the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith at Disney-MGM Studios as well as have a customizable apparel venue in Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort that will enable guests to design and personalize their own custom T-shirts and other items. Champion will also have naming rights for the stadium at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex as well as brand placement and promotional opportunities at what will be called Champion Stadium. The alliance also includes in-store promotional and brand building opportunities at ESPN Zone restaurants and all eight ESPN Zone stores across the country.
Noddy Meets Beatrix Potter—Chorion Buys
Chorion acquired independent licensing business The Copyrights Group last week, for an undisclosed sum. The deal brings together a comprehensive portfolio of classic licensing and merchandising brands known across the world. Copyrights clients’ brands range from British children’s classics such as Beatrix Potter, Paddington Bear, Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman, Spot, and Horrible Histories to lifestyle brands such as Marie Claire, Rough Guides, and The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady.
Chorion’s brand portfolio includes Noddy, Mr. Men, and the works of Agatha Christie. The acquisition comes as Chorion prepares the international launch of new television series for Mr. Men and Enid Blyton’s Famous Five.
Chorion said it plans an expansion of the Copyrights brands in international territories, including North America and Japan.
Says Jane Turner, Chorion managing director, “We are thrilled to be adding the licensing and merchandising of such globally recognized British institutions as Paddington Bear and Beatrix Potter to our portfolio of brands. Children around the world continue to delight in these fantastic characters. Global manufacturers, broadcasters, and publishers also instantly recognize their value.”
Copyrights Group co-founder and chief executive Nicholas Durbridge adds,
“We are delighted that Beatrix Potter, Paddington Bear, Flower Fairies, and the other properties forming part of the Copyrights Group brand portfolio can now stand alongside Chorion’s burgeoning family of classics. Chorion has both the integrity and experience needed to provide these iconic brands with continued success and development around the world.”
In other news, Chorion is to launch an online store for Noddy in partnership with Digital Stores.
complements the existing Noddy site
and will stock 150-200 Noddy items. The launch is being supported by a consumer campaign targeting parenting, online and national media. John Collins, Chorion’s senior marketing manager, Europe, said: “With use of online shopping increasing every year, now is the perfect time to provide parents of Noddy fans with a one-stop site from which to purchase a wide range of Noddy items. And we are also keen to support our valuable licensees with a great distribution outlet for their excellent product ranges”
Recall Hits Chinese-Made Toys
U.S. safety officials have recalled about 4.2 million Chinese-made bead toys that contain a chemical that has caused some children to vomit and become comatose after swallowing them. Scientists have found the popular toy's coating contains a chemical that, once metabolized, converts into the toxic “date rape” drug GHB, or gamma-hydroxy butyrate.
The arts and craft beads, aimed at children 4 years and older, have been selling since April at major U.S. retail stores as Aqua Dots and in Australia under the name Bindeez Beads. Toronto-based toy distributor Spin Master Ltd. stopped shipping Aqua Dots and asked retailers to pull them off their shelves, where they had sold for $17 to $30.
The recall is the latest to target Chinese-made toys. Last month, U.S. government safety officials and retailers recalled at least 69,000 Chinese-made toys over concerns of excessive amounts of lead paint, which can cause lead poisoning.
Nick Gets in the Picture
Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products joined with Shutterfly Inc. in a licensing agreement to create and distribute a new line of personalized Shutterfly products. The offerings will feature three of Nickelodeon’s most popular animated children’s characters: Spongebob Squarepants, Dora the Explorer, and Diego from “Go, Diego, Go!” Available only at Shutterfly beginning November 2007, Nickelodeon’s iconic characters will appear on the largest selection ever offered of Shutterfly licensed products, including Photo Books, Adventure Books, Greeting Cards, and Photo Cards. This partnership significantly expands Shutterfly’s licensed product portfolio, and enables parents to create personally customized digital photo products and gifts that combine favorite home images with their kids’ favorite Nick characters.
Always Fair Weather Online
The Weather Channel is launching an online store,
, an upbeat and lively e-commerce site offering products from high-end gadgets and gear to popular polos, caps, and umbrellas bearing The Weather Channel logo. The site is organized under the headings of Gift Specials, Be Prepared, Staying Healthy, and Travel Smart.
The Weather Channel store will leverage the loyal following of millions of viewers and online users of The Weather Channel and its Web site, weather.com. A CD of music played during local forecasts, “The Weather Channel Presents Smooth Jazz,” is available and, in December, offerings will include a multi-episode collection of the award-winning Storm Stories series on DVD. At launch, products for fall and winter will be featured; new items will be added to the mix with each new season.
HIT Renews Tomy as Master Toy Licensee
HIT Entertainment has renewed and extended its master toy license with Tomy for the classic preschool property Thomas & Friends across Europe. The new deal will see Tomy move from the Motor Road and Rail track system to the new Trackmaster play system, due for launch in autumn 2008.
Fans To Tune into Nicktoons Book
Nickelodeon offers fans a look at its entire animated history in
Not Just Cartoons: Nicktoons
, a coffee table book published by Melcher Media. The book chronicles the rise of the network starting in August 1991, when Nickelodeon unleashed Ren & Stimpy, Doug, and Rugrats, collectively known as Nicktoons, the network’s first foray into the world of original, creator-driven animation. Fans will also learn about their favorite characters including The Fairly OddParents; Hey, Arnold!; The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius; and SpongeBob SquarePants, plus newer Nicktoon hits including Avatar: The Last Airbender. In a first in publishing history, the hardcover book is slip-covered in Nickelodeon’s iconic green slime.
Elmo Sports an eXtra Silly Surprise
Elmo will be at his ticklish best in a limited-edition “T.M.X. Elmo eXtra Special Edition due at retail Nov. 13. The plush from Fisher-Price Friends sports a gold badge to distinguish it from its predecessor, T.M.X. Elmo, yet has all the same features as well as new hidden silly surprises that can only be discovered when kids play, pose, and tickle Elmo in the right sequence. The key is to find the right combination of movements (raise his arm, tickle his belly, etc.) to activate the fun. T.M.X. Elmo eXtra Special Edition comes with one clue card featuring a rhyme to help find one surprise. Children and their parents can find the rest of Elmo’s silly surprises, through hints weekly between Nov. 19 and Dec. 17 at www.fisher.price.com. On Jan. 2, 2008, all of the correct sequences needed to unlock all of Elmo’s hidden surprises will be revealed on the Fisher-Price Web site. The plush retails for $39.99 and will be available only for 2007.
For JAKKS Pacific, a New Discovery
JAKKS Pacific Inc. takes on the role of master toy licensee for the Discovery Kids brand in a deal with Discovery Communications through Discovery Kids licensing agent Big Tent Entertainment. JAKKS plans to launch activity sets, science kits, kids’ microscopes, role-play sets, arts and crafts, electronic learning aids, plug-and-play TV games, interactive toys, outdoor/seasonal products, radio-controlled vehicles, and puzzles for fall 2008.
Scion Acquires Artful Dodger Brand
Scion LLC, a joint venture between Iconix Brand Group Inc. and Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, has acquired the brand Artful Dodger from Sovereign State LLC. The purchase price for the brand was approximately $15 million, paid in cash by Scion. Artful Dodger is an exclusive, high-end apparel brand sold in boutiques and specialty stores such as Harvey Nichols in the UK and at specialty stores and boutiques in the United States.
In connection with this acquisition, Scion has entered into a multiyear exclusive license with Signature Apparel Group for Artful Dodger men’s and women’s sportswear. Scott Langton, Artful Dodger’s founder, creative director, and head designer, will join Signature Apparel Group in this capacity. In addition, Scion is currently evaluating a number of licensees beyond the core sportswear license including footwear and outerwear to transition Artful Dodger into a lifestyle brand.
Marks & Spencer Eyes China
Marks & Spencer chief executive Stuart Rose said that the business would open in Shanghai in China next year and that more stores would follow as the business steps up its overseas expansion. M&S currently has more than 250 international stores in 30 countries, largely franchise operations. The Chinese business would be wholly owned, however, complementing its existing stores in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
BabyFirstTV Enters Central America, Caribbean
BabyFirstTV, the 24/7 commercial-free educational and child development channel for babies, toddlers, and their parents, has entered Central America and the Caribbean through carriage agreements with CTV Telecom (Panama) and Columbus Communications Trinidad.
BabyFirstTV is available in both English and Spanish and CTV will take the feed in Spanish while Columbus will offer it in English. The distribution of the Spanish feed augments distribution that is also utilized by operators in the United States for the domestic Hispanic market, as well as Mexico, where the channel airs on Sky Mexico, Cablevision, and PCTV; and Puerto Rico, where it is available via Onelink.
The expansion of BabyFirstTV into Central America follows on the heels of the channel’s recent launches in Canada (Rogers Cable and Bell ExpressVu) and France (Canal Sat). BabyFirstTV is also available in the UK (BSkyB), Korea (Korea Telecom, Hanaro), Taiwan (ChungHwa MOD), and the Middle East (via Showtime Arabia).
Decode Scores with Poko
Decode Enterprises has scored a series of international deals for the stop-motion animation preschool series, “Poko.” The series is produced by Decode’s sister company at DHX, Halifax Film, and is currently in its third season on CBC in Canada.
Discovery Kids has taken non-standard and standard television rights in Spanish for the United States to the Poko series (seasons 1-3), with Discovery Kids Latin America acquiring non-standard rights for season three in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Decode has also sold all 109 episodes to Italy’s RaiSat and the first 26 episodes to Polmedia’s Mini Mini cable and satellite channel. The Turkish digital broadcasting platform DigiTurk has acquired season three as well as a renewal for seasons one and two. Additionally, Hong Kong’s ATV has committed to series two and three, Korea’s digital satellite Skylife has picked up series one and two for its Kids-Talk-Talk channel, and Pacific Bridge has obtained home video rights for Korea. In Australia, ABC2 has signed up for season two.
TV-Loonland Inks Raft of Deals for Little Princess
TV-Loonland has signed a raft of deals for its preschool property “Little Princess” for TV and home entertainment products. In addition to slots in over 120 territories, TV rights for both seasons have now been acquired by Cartoon Network Spain and TV Ontario, Canada. Having already picked up the first season, French broadcaster CanalJ and France 5, ABC Australia, Minimax Poland, and RUV Iceland have all committed to the second season, following earlier deals signed with S4C Wales, SVT Barnkanalen Sweden, NRK (Super Kids) Norway, and DR TV Denmark. In Italy, “Little Princess” is soon to make its debut on RAI TRE.
In home entertainment, deals have been secured for both seasons with Portugal’s LNK Audiovisual and Universal Pictures Video for French-speaking Europe. Further, Home Video rights for the first season have been licensed to Polish Cass Film Entertainment.
In addition, publisher Panini will create an activity magazine for German-speaking Europe in 2008.
Fashion No Mystery to Roxy Hunter
Miami-based Dolphin Entertainment signed a three-year exclusive marketing and licensing apparel deal with Tween Brands LLC, owners of Limited Too and Justice Stores, featuring Nickelodeon’s first TV-movie mystery franchise “Roxy Hunter.” Tween Brands will kick off the partnership over the Holiday 2007 season with a Roxy Hunter sweepstakes followed by an exclusive merchandise and apparel launch in 2008 that is expected be featured across all marketing channels within Tween Brands (online, catalog, and in-store).
Sweet-Smelling Deal for Elizabeth Arden
Elizabeth Arden Inc. has entered into an exclusive global licensing agreement with Iconix Brand Group Inc. for the development, marketing, and distribution of men’s and women’s fragrance, cosmetics, and skin-care products with the leading lifestyle apparel brand Rocawear. A debut fragrance is planned to launch in fall 2008.
Captain Planet To Star in T-Shirt Line
Cartoon Network Enterprises is launching a line of Captain Planet T-shirts for men, women, and kids via a deal with Local Celebrity. The green-haired icon and star of the ’90s TV series, “Captain Planet and the Planeteers,” is already on shelves at high-end, specialty, and department stores. The show, currently on Boomerang, was created by Ted Turner and features an eco-friendly superhero who teaches children about potential environmental hazards. A 12-hour marathon is planned in April in celebration of Earth Day 2008.
Kids To Sleep with (not so) Scary Monsters
SaraMax Apparel Group will create a line of boys’ and girls’ sleepwear for the (not so) Scary Monsters throughout the United States. The deal was brokered by CopCorp Licensing.
Bella Sara Expands into New Categories
MasterPieces Puzzle Company has partnered with Hidden City Games for a line of Bella Sara puzzles, games, and crafts. The new deal is the largest licensed expansion for the horse-themed trading card and online world for girls.
ClickandPlay Is a HIT with Preschoolers
HIT Entertainment will add Bob the Builder and Thomas & Friends to www.clickandplay.com, a new online interactive site for preschoolers. The subscription-based site, which is updated weekly, uses a walled garden approach making it safe for children to play on the internet.
Mary Meyer Takes On Pet Peeves
Pet Peeves LLC is partnering with Mary Meyer to produce a new line of plush toys. The plush gifts will convert many everyday irritations and funny social/personal interactions into a positive emotional experience while allowing people to vent and laugh. The gift line will include traditional and occasion-based plush such as birthday, anniversary, holiday, and more.
Ubisoft Taps into Girls’ Game Market
Ubisoft launched a series of video games under its Imagine brand, marking its first-ever dedicated brand that allows girls to explore their favorite interests and hobbies, as well as its expansion into the casual video game market. Imagine Animal Doctor, Imagine Babyz, Imagine Fashion Designer, and Imagine Master Chef are available for the Nintendo DS and retail for $29.99.
Juno Baby Signs Distribution Agreement in Brazil
Juno Baby, the producer of educational DVDs, CDs, apparel, and plush, signed a new agreement with OmNi E+ to pursue distribution in Brazil. OmNi E+ represents international and domestic clients in home entertainment, television, and consumer products.
Saks Buyout Getting Closer?
Baugur has stepped up its takeover interest in Saks, the New York-based luxury retailer, by hiring NM Rothschild and Financo, a U.S. corporate-finance boutique, to advise on the deal. The privately owned Icelandic company announced at the end of last month that it could make a joint bid with Dubai’s Landmark Group. It is expected that any takeover bid for Saks would be worth between $3 billion and $4 billion.
The Saks portfolio spans more than 190 outlets including 54 Saks Fifth Avenue stores; 49 Off 5th outlets; and 87 Club Libby Lu (CLL) specialty stores with more than 7.4 million square feet of retail space.
Baugur has built up an 8.5 percent stake in the high-end retailer. Landmark, which owns hypermarkets in India, has just over 1 percent of Saks stock.
The current weakness of the dollar gives foreign buyers a head start against domestic buyout investors. Buying the business would pave the way for Baugur to expand its British high-street brands, including Karen Millen, into the U.S. market.
Saks would be regarded as a trophy asset and its brand name would play well for overseas expansion, particularly in the Middle East. It has already struck a number of international licensing deals.
Mind Candy Launches Social Networking for Kids
Mind Candy is launching a kids’ virtual world and online social community called Moshi Monsters, aimed primarily at children aged from 7 to 12. The Web site,
, incorporates an in-game economy, casual games, social networking capabilities, and a range of educational elements. It claims to be an environment for children to learn about safe modes of online interaction, develop cognitive ability through the varied puzzle games and cultivate responsibility.
Light Fund Raises Funds for Charity
Almost £10,000 was raised by the UK licensing industry charity The Light Fund in a quiz event held in London last week. Some 250 people gathered to compete in teams for the winning bag of goodies, which was won by the team from Coolabi.
Target Entertainment’s Shelley Kerridge was promoted to head of licensing following the recent signing of the global licensing rights to the feature film
, while Lisa Simpson has been promoted to licensing assistant. As well as working on
, Kerridge and Simpson will work across Target’s brands, which include “Fifi and the Flowertots,” “Storm Hawks,” and “Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs.”
Decode Enterprises promoted Josh Scherba to director of sales, and Lara Ilie was appointed sales executive and will head up sales for Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
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