Recently, I had the pleasure of talking with Michael Abata, director, growth partnerships, CAMP, which specializes in shop/play hybrid experiences at physical locations. Abata breaks down how family entertainment has become the foundation of licensing IPs and how the industry can cohesively work together to showcase the ultimate immersive experiences.
Michael Abata will be speaking in person at Brand & Licensing Innovation Summit this month to deliver a session titled “
Exit Through the Gift Shop: Location-Based Experiences as Retailtainment
.” This session will cover how CAMP’s retail model is
, Disney’s “Encanto,” as an example.
Brand & Licensing Innovation Summit will take place Nov. 8-9 in New York City at Convene New York. Visit
Brand & Licensing Innovation Summit’s site
to secure a pass for access to exclusive sessions and presentations during both days.
Anna: Tell us about yourself. We’d love to hear about you and your company’s role in the licensing industry.
Michael: I've been in the retail industry for 17-plus years leading brand and licensing partnerships, and I absolutely love every minute of it. I recently joined CAMP to dream up unexpected partnerships with brands like
and BBC in the family experience space. We are designed from the ground up to uniquely bring together entertainment and commerce. Our group moves at the speed of culture to bring the love for licensed IP to our audiences through enchanted experiences.
Can you speak to the leading challenges the industry is facing right now?
Families want more immersive, interactive experiences that create deeper emotional connections with licensed characters or shows. And they want it yesterday. They want to be able to go from watching something on Netflix, Disney+, Nickelodeon, YouTube, etc. to immediately having product and play experiences at their fingertips to immerse themselves in the fandom. The industry has simply never had to work this fast to capture fast-paced family fandom. It's why CAMP has stood up experiences with PAW Patrol CAMP, Bluey Meet and Greets and Disney's Mickey & Friends in record time.
How can the licensing and retail industries work together to jointly overcome these challenges?
Be more collaborative in building experiences for fans that are immersive, memorable and timely! We should challenge each other to respond to the marketplace more quickly and build processes that allow for merchandise and experiences to come to life at the speed of culture. Our collaboration with Disney has been how we've been able to create first-of-kind shows in New York City that transport families into the beautiful world of Mickey and “Encanto.”
What trends are coming down the pipeline?
Nostalgia from 1980s, 1990s and 2000s IPs continues to excite families as parents love to pass their childhood favorites down to their kids. Adults love what might be labeled as a "children’s IP," but there are very little merchandise and experiences to capture profits. Quick-hit fandom merchandise opportunities from TikTok creators and trends, and alternate reality and metaverse fandoms all are here; however, very few IPs are playing in those spaces.
What excites you about engaging and learning from your community in person at B&LIS this November?
I'm excited to learn from the variety of folks in our community and dream up new, immersive experiences and merchandise for families.
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