Part 2: 10 Minutes with Steve Manners, WildBrain CPLG

As Steve Manners gears up for Licensing Leadership Summit, he discusses all things WildBrain CPLG with License Global.
License Global

October 27, 2020


As Festival of Licensing wraps up, speakers and exhibitors are reflecting on what they gained from the biggest licensing event of the year.

Steve Manners, vice president, business development, WildBrain CPLG and WildBrain Spark, is speaking at Licensing Leadership Summit, the only virtual global conference bringing together C-level executives from the world’s largest players across manufacturing, retail and brands to discuss, debate and collaborate on the future of brand licensing.

Taking place Oct. 28-29, execs like Manners will share secrets to making it in the licensing industry.

License Global

had a chat with Manners ahead of his session to discuss all things WildBrain CPLG and how it fits into the licensing industry and its progression into a more digital format.

In one sentence, what does WildBrain CPLG do? 

WildBrain CPLG is one of the world’s leading entertainment, sport and brand licensing agencies, and we have offices in the U.K., Benelux, Nordics, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden,

Poland, Greece & Turkey, Russia, the Middle East, and the U.S. With more than 45 years of experience in the licensing industry, we are committed to providing each of our clients with dedicated licensing and marketing industry professionals, alongside a fully integrated product development, legal and accounting service.

And WildBrain Spark? 

WildBrain Spark is the award-winning digital media company, and one of the largest premium kids and family content networks on AVOD platforms such as YouTube, YouTube Kids, Amazon and ROKU.

How do the two feed into each other? 

WildBrain CPLG is now working more closely with all of WildBrain’s business units, particularly on a combined service offering with WildBrain Spark. WildBrain CPLG’s clients are looking at ways to use digital platforms to engage with the target consumers and, as one of the only licensing agencies with additional digital capability, we are able to offer a complete solution and offer licensors a deep understanding of the YouTube and AVOD opportunity.  Similarly, with the increasing success of content on platforms such as YouTube, kids and families are engaging with digital first properties on the WildBrain Spark network, leading to demand for consumer products which WildBrain CPLG can facilitate and support.

How can YouTube and other digital platforms be used for launching, supporting or reinvigorating IP?

For launching new brands, we use WildBrain Spark’s hub channels to attract and grow audiences, which leads to demand for stand-alone channels once a solid fan base has been established. Across our strategies for all brands, we take an “always on” approach that allows audiences to engage with their favourite properties whenever and wherever they like. This, in turn, supports linear and theatrical releases through additional content, compilations, listicles, engaging short form content that builds a “home” for the brand in the digital space.

Where is the licensing industry on its journey with digital? 

It’s still relatively early days – influencer IPs such as Ryan’s World, JoJo Siwa started their journey on YouTube, but really began to resonate in consumer products once they appeared on more traditional broadcast platforms. However, increasingly, with properties such as Vlad & Niki – which WildBrain CPLG represents across EMEA and Russia - consumer products is being driven solely by their digital presence. In addition, more traditional content is often being led by a digital-first approach.

What data insights can be achieved by using digital platforms in this way? 

WildBrain CPLG and WildBrain Spark work in close collaboration to capture and analyse as much data and insights as possible ­ this can be COPPA-compliant YouTube data, social data, free accessible retail data and specific data provided by licensors or retailers. We then use this in our conversations with our licensees and retailers to support a decision on an activation and with our licensors to advise where investment is needed in order to improve the brand’s footprint.

Insights also allow us to understand the audience journey – what characters, situations and story lines viewers respond to – and use those insights to both guide development of future content, but also create consumer products that respond to audience reaction and engagement. We’ve never previously been able to gain such valuable and effective insights.

And how do they drive and influence retail rollout strategies?

These insights help guide the product creation, design and also find the appropriate retail home. We can also support retailers’ own digital strategies and amplify their product offering through advertising on YouTube, and also create unique and targeted ways to effectively reach their target audience.


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