It's always fun to look back at the top stories, and this review provides a useful tool for planning another year of exciting new deals, acquisitions and content.
Best wishes for a happy, healthy and successful 2015.
-Tony Lisanti, global editorial director,
Li & Fung Spins Off Licensing Unit
Li & Fung split off its brand and licensing operations, creating the standalone Global Brands Group and freeing up the main company to focus on its core sourcing business. News of the spin off followed another major move by the company–the acquisition of the world's fifth largest licensing agency, The Licensing Company, in January.
Disney: Growing Boys
Guardians of the Galaxy
(which was the highest grossing movie of the year) and the TV series "Star Wars Rebels." The studio didn't miss a beat in the girls' sector though, with
topping both retail and entertainment charts.
Hello Kitty Celebrates 40 Years
One of the world's most prolific character brands, Sanrio's Hello Kitty, celebrated four decades of success in typical fashion–with events and products too numerous to count, including the brand's first-ever fan convention.
AwesomenessTV Brings in Retail Veteran
After acquiring the multi-channel YouTube network AwesomenessTV in May 2013, DreamWorks made a strong statement about its intentions when it appointed Jim Fielding (formerly of Disney Stores and Claire's) to lead the division's consumer products and retail efforts.
Frozen Ousts Barbie on Top Toys List
There's no doubt that Frozen was the brand of year, an accolade made all the more impressive by the fact that the movie was actually released in 2013. Stock issues in the first half of the year plagued retailers, but even that didn't dampen demand, and the brand closed out 2014 by toppling Barbie's 11-year reign as the No. 1 brand on girls' holiday wish lists.
Saban Forms Lifestyle Unit
In move to expand its presence in the fashion and lifestyle space, the entertainment licensor launched a new unit–Saban Brands Lifestyle Group. Anchored by the Paul Frank property, acquisitions seem likely, especially with the recent appointment of a former Iconix exec to head "corporate development."
Nick Plans Stores in Five Continents
With the increased popularity of pop-up shops, the worlds of retail and consumer products are converging. Nickelodeon Viacom's answer to that trend? The launch of branded retail destinations around the world. At the same time, the licensor celebrated the 15th anniversary of SpongeBob (whose first feature film will arrive in February) and continued its reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise with a blockbuster summer film.
Walmart to Debut Sprout Tablet
Last year saw an explosion of propriety gadgets for kids featuring pre-loaded branded content. Beyond collecting popular content creators' brands and products in one place, these devices also create a direct line of communication to the youngest consumers. Other companies with exclusive tablets include DreamWorks, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon.
Hasbro Takes Over Disney Doll Business
Hasbro pulled off a major coup in September when Disney shifted its Princess and Frozen doll business to the toy company and away from long-time partner Mattel. Hasbro also continued to expand its My Little Pony and Transformers franchises and tested out the waters of 3D printing.
NFLPI Expands its Playing Field
NFL Players Inc., the licensing subsidiary of the NFL Players Association, made a number of big plays last year as part of an aggressive strategy to grow retail sales of licensed football gear year-round.
TRU Presents Transformation Strategy
The world's largest pure-play toy retailer outlined a major strategic plan to improve performance and sales, called the TRU Transformation. The toy store, a major partner for licensed merchandise, also made a number of other strategic moves from exec changes to launching 3D printing kiosks in stores.
CPLG Celebrates 40 Years
One of the largest and most respected licensing agencies, Copyright Promotions Licensing Group (a division of DHX Media), celebrated four decades of accomplishments and opened a U.S. division.
ABG Unveils Mini Marilyn Brand
Authentic Brands Group used one of the biggest movie stars in history (and one of its most successful brands), Marilyn Monroe, as the inspiration for a new girls' brand–Mini Marilyn–while at the same time making a number of new acquisitions.
Sonic for a New Generation: Sonic Boom
After two decades, more than 70 video games and four animated series, SEGA re-introduced the world to Sonic the Hedgehog with a whole new iteration of the classic brand–Sonic Boom–that features a revamped look, new games and a CGI TV series.
Other Major Stories
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