As ViacomCBS continues to expand its global reach in the licensing industry, they recently participated as both an exhibitor and the Community and Wellbeing sponsor at Festival of Licensing. During Festival of Licensing, License Global caught up with Veronica Hart, executive vice president, Global Franchise Planning, ViacomCBS Consumer Products to discuss ViacomCBS, working in the ‘new normal’ and what the future holds for licensing.
License Global: For those who don't already know who you are, who are you and how do you fit into the licensing industry?
Hart: I am Veronica Hart, executive vice president, Global Franchise Planning for the combined ViacomCBS Consumer Products. This means I have the privilege to oversee the Consumer Products franchise strategy planning across the company’s portfolio of brands including our amazing partners at Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, CBS, Showtime and Paramount Pictures.
I previously ran CBS Consumer Products and Franchise Management at CBS where I built a strategy planning team for “Star Trek.” And before that I’ve always been in licensing, growing up in the business at Sunbow Entertainment, the Jim Henson Company, Sesame Workshop and HIT. Now, I get to work on our powerhouse brands like “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Blues Clues & You!,” “Avatar,” “South Park,” “Star Trek” and so many others.
ViacomCBS operates multiple well-known brands that have blown up all over the world. What do you contribute to your continued success, and how do you know what brands will take off?
Our studio creative teams across the company develop unmatched content for every demographic, and we work closely from inception of a project on the best way to transform great content to successful licensing programs. Insights & Analytics are central to understanding the connection fans have to our brands, our business and the world around us. As an organization, we have expertise in licensing and retail, offices in key markets around the world and an amazing Consumer Products creative team that all work together to contribute to the well-rounded approach.
For instance, with the launch of “Blues Clues & You!,” we worked hand-in-hand with the amazing Nickelodeon Animation studio and the channel programming and marketing teams to fully align on their content plans and our product launch and retail plans and it’s working incredibly well at retail!
What is the current biggest trend of industry disruption that you see due to the pandemic, and what’s the biggest industry disruption you see on the horizon that would have happened regardless?
E-commerce and direct-to-consumer have been growing significantly, but the current world environment and pandemic has accelerated the timeline and exploded those businesses. Our team, and our retailers, have adapted to explore new categories and new opportunities based on the environment we’re in.
What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to the beginning of your career, and what advice would you give newcomers now?
If this last year has taught me anything, it’s that it’s critical to learn from those around you and be able to move and change plans quickly.
What do you see as the most beneficial habit those in the licensing industry should implement while working from home or at an emptier office?
It’s amazing how quickly our industry adapted to working from home. The best part has been the regular access to our global partners and colleagues. The key is being fully transparent and inclusive and planning check-ins.
It’s also critical to show appreciation for the incredible work being done around the world and across the industry in a very challenging time for many personally. It’s a good practice to make sure you are unplugging occasionally too!
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I remain impressed and astounded at the innovation and adaptive creativity of our team and our industry in these unparalleled times. 2020 has thrown so much at our lives and our business. Buying habits and viewing habits have shifted incredibly quickly and our industry has risen to the occasion.