Bandai America to Reignite Tamagotchi Fever
Bandai America is coming to market August 15 with the next generation of Tamagotchi digital pets. Tamagotchi Connection (suggested retail, $14.99) is an egg-shaped digital pet that simulates the life cycle of a pet, letting kids experience the fun and responsibility of feeding, tending to, and caring for their “pet.” Special unopened packages of Tamagotchi Connection and Tamagotchi Connection T-shirts will be available for a 10-day auction on eBay starting June 21. The products will be specially autographed by celebrities with all proceeds to benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
Geneon Expands Ranks; Opens New Offices
Geneon Entertainment (formerly Pioneer Entertainment) is expanding its North American operations and adding senior management in the wake of its acquisition by global advertising agency Dentsu Inc. As part of the expansion, Geneon President Yosuke Kobayashi was promoted to president and CEO. Other executive moves include the appointment of Eiji Orii as senior vice president and chief planning officer, Takashi Tanaka as executive vice president and COO, and Yushin Soga as senior vice president and CFO.
Additional appointments include Jason Meyers as director, business & legal affairs; Jim Yardley as director, sales planning; Neil Birk as national account manager; and Kimberly Healy as manager, programming sales. The company also will open new offices in New York City and Minneapolis.
DIC Signs New Interactive Partners
DIC Entertainment signed a deal with One World Interactive U.S.A., a distributor of content, billing, and access solutions in the telecommunications industry, and its partner, U.S. Cellnet Information, to provide worldwide wireless content for its new Trollz property. As part of the deal, the companies will provide DIC with a creative marketing and global distribution of interactive Premium SMS (text messaging) Solutions to be delivered across multiple network standards and to a wide range of handset protocols. Trollz will utilize Premium SMS as a marketing tool as well as an interactive entertainment product offering for the teen and ’tween market. The Trollz community comprises music, fashion, toys, DVDs, books, film, and other merchandise categories.
Playmates Toys Takes Lead on Atomic Betty
Playmates Toys was named master toy licensee for Breakthrough Animation’s new property, Atomic Betty. The animated series makes its Cartoon Network debut in fall with first products arriving on shelves in January 2005. Playmates will offer dolls and figures at several price points, as well as transforming figures and play environments, accessories, and playsets. In other news, Breakthrough Animation landed
Children’s ITV as the UK broadcaster for Atomic Betty with programming due in November. The property has been licensed in 55 countries with broadcasters including Teletoon (Canada and France), Cartoon Network (U.S. and Canada), M6 (France), and ABC (Australia).
Looney Tunes to Star in Live Shows
Warner Bros. Consumer Products will launch live shows throughout Europe via a new licensing deal with Rainbow Productions. The live shows will play in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain and star the Looney Tunes characters. There also will be character mall shows and activity events in those markets.
NKOK Expands Product Scope
NKOK Inc. is moving beyond the radio-controlled business with a new brand of children’s do-it-yourself toys. The new HomePlay brand will launch with an exclusive license agreement with Singer for a line of toy sewing machines and toy knitting machines. The first four products are due on shelves in third quarter 2004. All are scaled-down variations of the adult machines and are made to look and perform just like their full-size counterparts.
Latin Hero to Star on Apparel Line
Brand Impact Group is seeking partners to help in the development of a line of Latino apparel marketed under its Jose Marti brand name. First products will be presented to retailers for fall 2005. Going forward, the company plans to expand the brand into accessories, fragrances, and home furnishings. “Jose Marti was a great hero, freedom fighter, statesman, and accomplished writer of the Hispanic world,” says Dave Soderquist, founder and CEO of Brand Impact Group.
Hot Kiss Inks Deal with Merries International
Hot Kiss expands its line beyond juniors’ sportswear, signing a deal with Merries International Inc. for a line of juniors’ outerwear. The collection will range from shells to insulated vests and jackets and be on store shelves for holiday 2004 with more styles due for spring 2005. The Hot Kiss outerwear collection will be sold through Merries’ sales group.
Hasbro Games Wins Gold EFFIE
Hasbro Games won a Gold EFFIE award for the TV commercial for its Trivial Pursuit 20th Anniversary Edition game called “Thank You” in the Leisure Products category. The award was presented by the American Marketing Association to recognize creative achievement in meeting and exceeding advertising objectives.
Ragdoll Makes Executive Moves
Ragdoll named Lori Heiss to the newly created position of director of marketing in its New York offices. Heiss will report to Andrew Kerr, senior vice president, global licensing and marketing, who assumes responsibility for the worldwide marketing and licensing efforts and is relocating to the UK in July.
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