WBCP: A League of Opportunity

WBCP's Pam Lifford continues to craft a definitive global strategy and dedicated organization that is ready to drive global growth for the new DC films and characters, as well as its long-standing franchises and themed entertainment experiences.

April 6, 2018

WBCP: A League of Opportunity

WBCP's Pam Lifford continues to craft a definitive global strategy and dedicated organization that is ready to drive global growth for the new DC films and characters, as well as its long-standing franchises and themed entertainment experiences.

Lifford-Headshot.jpg

Pam Lifford, president, WBCP

With the release of several new films from the DC universe, along with the much-anticipated

Justice League

movie, Warner Bros. Consumer Products is feeling the power and is poised for a new period of growth in licensing and related entertainment brand initiatives.

With a major commitment from the studio to expand its DC Entertainment slate, with

Wonder Woman

debuting next month and

Justice League

arriving to save the planet in November, it's a whole new world of opportunity for WBCP beyond the iconic

Batman

and

Superman

franchises, which also have key roles in the upcoming films.

Warner Bros.' DC films in the pipeline through 2020 and beyond include

Aquaman

,

The Flash

,

Cyborg

,

Green Lantern Corps

and

Justice League 2

, which are all in various stages of discussion and development.

WBCP's new merchandising and licensing efforts are taking shape, as various

Wonder Woman

products hit retail shelves last month and will continue to roll out in the lead up to the film premiere, as well as a wide

assortment of

Justice League

products that will hit retail worldwide in August.

In addition to the popular superhero genre, WBCP has numerous other initiatives in the works under its president of consumer products Pam Lifford, who joined the studio a little more than a year ago and has quickly settled in to her position establishing a comprehensive strategic plan to guide the division.

The WBCP portfolio also includes J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World, which encompasses the

Harry Potter

and

Fantastic Beasts

franchises; "DC Super Hero Girls"; primetime TV programming, including the live-action hits "The Flash," "Arrow," "Supergirl" and "Gotham"; as well as top-rated animated series "Teen Titans Go!," "Justice League Action," the "Looney Tunes" franchise and Hanna-Barbera properties; plus classics such as the Stanley Kubrick collection and much more. In addition, WBCP and The LEGO Group continue to build on their longstanding partnership for

The LEGO Ninjago Movie

and

The LEGO Movie 2

, from Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Animation Group and LEGO System A/S.

"This has been an amazing first year, and the transition WBCP has made has been extremely rewarding," says Lifford. "We have an ambitious plan in place to accelerate our growth and help the division really see itself as a high performing organization. We are focused on four key pillars;people, franchise, retail and products;and everything we do is filtered through that lens. We continue to enhance our relationships with our best-in-class licensees, retailers and promotional partners to help drive change through the organization."

WBCP reported an increase in retail sales of licensed merchandise worldwide in 2016 to $6.5 billion, up from $6 billion in 2015, according to the Top 150 Global Licensors report published annually by

License Global

. WBCP remains the second largest entertainment licensor, behind Disney and just ahead of Hasbro and Universal Brand Group.

"In addition to our unique content offering, we have reinvented our approach to the business and become more flexible and nimble to better serve our partners and consumers. The division's ability to leverage its experience in themed entertainment as an extension of consumer products at retail and our commitment to providing fully immersive engagement across all our brands and franchises with our 'never go dark strategy,' has set us up for strong growth opportunities," says Lifford.

Another important growth factor for WBCP, according to Lifford, is international expansion.

"If you want to have a global organization, then you have to spend time in the market. We are very much entrenched in the regions we see as growth opportunities," she says. "Europe and China are the top priorities in the growth of our international business."

In fact, Lifford says that China is a company-wide priority and in 2018, "you will be hearing a lot of noise about China."

In the near term, however, the focus is clearly on

Wonder Woman

, which began to flood store shelves last month with a multi-tiered retail approach that spanned high-end collaborations to mass.

"I grew up with

Wonder Woman

, so I am a big fan," says Lifford. "She's an example of a woman who exudes confidence, power and strength, and uses those qualities for the good of humankind. We looked to her character and core DNA to translate to lifestyle collections and products for fans of all ages that includes apparel, toys and collectibles that support her first solo feature film."

To kick off the worldwide

Wonder Woman

program, WBCP partnered with Walmart and global toy licensee Mattel to launch an assortment of

Wonder Woman

toys in the U.S. including themed dolls and role play items.

Also in April, WBCP rolled out exclusive offerings at Toys 'R' Us and at LEGO stores.

This month, Walmart is rolling out additional exclusive products from licensees Jakks Pacific, Funko and Fisher-Price, as well as

Wonder Woman

-themed flower bouquets for Mother's Day.

Additional

Wonder Woman

toys and collectible licensees include:

  • Mattel for action figures, Hot Wheels and a Barbie collection for adult collectors; Rubie’s Costume Co. for costumes and accessories; Funko for collectibles; Jakks Pacific for oversized collectible figures; Nobel Collection for authentic prop replicas; Sideshow Collectibles for movie-inspired statuettes; Hallmark for greeting cards, gift presentation and Itty Bitty plush; Jada Toys for metal collectibles; Icon Heroes for novelty replicas; QMX for collectible figures; Tonner Dolls for fashion dolls; Madame Alexander for dolls; and many more.
    • On the apparel front, WBCP teamed with Bioworld for apparel and accessories, Evy’s of California and Richard Leeds International for apparel lines, New Era for caps and Underboss for undergarments and sleepwear.
      • Other licensees that have signed on for the program include Franco Manufacturing, The Northwest Company and Trends International for bedding, blankets, throw pillows, home décor and novelty items, as well as HarperCollins, Centum and Titan Books for publishing.
        • In the EMEA region, WBCP partnered with major retailers. In Italy, partners like OVS are on board for themed apparel collections and dedicated window displays. In Germany, the film will be supported by Elbenwald, EMP and other partners including Spreadshirt Shop with t-shirts, hoodies and sweatshirts; Muckle with a life-size figure; and Schleich with a collectible figurine. Regional partners like GB Eye and Pyramid International will also offer posters and stationery.
          • In Australia, retailers Coles, Big W, EB Games, Chemist Warehouse and more will feature apparel from Caprice, accessories from Vimwood, a fragrance from Game On Product Group, home décor and gifting from Licensing Essentials, publishing from Scholastic and more.
            • In Latin America, the film will be highlighted by a series of regional licensees and retailers. In Mexico, licensees include Photo Pack for luggage and backpacks; Industrias Dark, Movis and Creaciones Guz for apparel; Oceanus International for bikes, scooters and camping gear; Regalos Siglo XXI for dinnerware; Carvajal Educacional and Industrias Danpex for stationery; and many others. In Brazil, partners include Havaianas for sandals, Risqué for nail polish and Chilli Beans for glasses and watches. Fashion retailers Riachuelo, Renner, C&A and Marisa will also debut apparel collections and accessories.

              Based on the extensive efforts for

              Wonder Woman

              , WBCP is planning a similar, if not more aggressive, roll out for

              Justice League

              beginning in August.

              “This is the first time that we will have all of the characters and the expannded story line all together in a feature film,” says Lifford. “We are introducing new products and continuing to celebrate the core franchises and what our consumers really love. We are thrilled that we will have such a powerful opportunity at retail and have engaged major retailers around the globe to promote the expansive product line extensively.”

              Furthermore, WBCP is gearing up for

              Aquaman

              , which is scheduled for release in December 2018, and will be a major focus during Licensing Expo 2017, along with new opportunities for J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, which includes the

              Fantastic Beasts

              film series.

              Beyond the extensive content related to consumer products initiatives, Lifford is also committed to expanding the division’s themed experiences business, which she believes offers unique opportunities beyond traditional retail. Last year, Warner Bros. announced a new theme park in Abu Dhabi in partnership with Miral.

              “Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi will be a state-of-the-art themed experience that authentically brings some of the studio’s most iconic characters and stories to life under one roof for the first time in the Middle East,” says Lifford. “We have been closely collaborating with our partners at Miral to construct immersive worlds that resonate with precise details and are thrilled to share these unique experiences with fans next year.”

              The new theme park will feature six immersive worlds: Metropolis and Gotham City, inspired by the universe of DC Super Heroes and Super-Villains; Cartoon Junction, Bedrock and Dynamite Gulch, themed after iconic animated brands such as “Looney Tunes” and Hanna-Barbera; and Warner Bros. Plaza, reminiscent of old Hollywood.

              Following what Lifford says was a record-breaking year for WBCP in 2016, she is confident in the future based on the people, structure and goals of the division, which includes being a world-class organization.

              “We are more nimble and flexible than ever before,” explains Lifford. “We are meeting with retailers on a regular basis, and it’s something that licensees have not seen from our organization. We are highly creative and innovative in our approach to the business and products; we are now investing in technology and are active in the inventors’ community.

              “The company is in full support of the consumer products business and it is one of the top three initiatives for studio chairman and chief executive officer, Kevin Tsujihara,” adds Lifford. “I have invested as much time driving the consumer products business as I have building relationships across the studio, and everyone is engaged in helping us be successful.”

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