OPINION: Exec Changes Will Reenergize Entertainment Licensing

The executive shuffle among top entertainment licensors continued yesterday with yet another high-profile licensing executive changing positions. 

April 6, 2018

OPINION: Exec Changes Will Reenergize Entertainment Licensing

Recent executive moves reflect key trends in entertainment licensing such as franchise development and global expansion.

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Tony Lisanti, editor-in-chief, License! Global

The executive shuffle among top entertainment licensors continued yesterday with yet another high-profile licensing executive changing positions.

Former Iconix executive Leigh Anne Brodsky, who served as managing director for Peanuts Worldwide for almost three years, is

jumping to Discovery Communications

and its Global Enterprises unit to help drive growth of global licensing, partnerships and live entertainment and take it to the next level. Just last week

Fox veteran Jeffrey Godsick left the studio

after 21 years to head up global partnerships as executive vice president for Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group. And just two/three months ago former Disney executive

Pam Lifford joined Warner Bros. Consumer Products

as president and

Jimmy Pitaro was named chairman of Disney Consumer Products Interactive

, after the short tenure of Leslie Ferraro, who resigned after moving into that position last November from Disney’s parks and resorts division.

But these recent examples of more than a dozen

executive changes at major licensors, which I wrote about last October in a

License! Global Editor’s Note

, reflects several key trends along with the fundamental goal of growing the business of brand licensing. These executive changes, along with

NBCUniversal’s recent acquisition of DreamWorks

and the continued influence of foreign investment in Hollywood particularly by Chinese corporations, underscore the enormous pressure to drive ancillary revenue, leverage new forms of content, explore new social media opportunities and build long standing global franchises. Consider the following factors:

  • Integration. It’s more important than ever for executives to better integrate all divisions at a studio, maximize all types of brand extensions and start to walk the walk versus talk the talk.
    • Partnerships. While traditional partnerships are still important, the opportunities for incremental growth along with the ability to reach new audiences, needs to come from an out-of-the-box mindset that fosters new business relationships with innovative and trendsetting companies, celebrity/personality tie-ins, et al.
      • Franchise Development. The need to build a bona fide longstanding franchise property is critical for studios as is the push to develop more content in multiple variations that connect with consumers far more frequently throughout the year.
        • Global Expansion. For the Hollywood studios, perhaps the most important country is China, where box office records continue to be set and the demand for licensed products continues to rise.
          • Licensing. With total retail sales of licensed products worldwide of more than $262 billion reported by the Top 150 Global Licensors for 2015, and led by Disney at $52.5 billion, the importance of brand extensions is as strong as ever as is the demand among consumers to be a part of pop culture.

            These factors are among the list of challenges and opportunities that face all these newly appointed executives from the seasoned veterans to the new names with a corner office.

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