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Untitled Document Cookie Jar to Acquire American Greetings Properties; Deal with DIC Finalized Cookie Jar Entertainment has not only settled its litigation with American Greetings over its proposed merger with DIC Entertainment, but the children’s

April 6, 2018

29 Min Read

Cookie Jar to Acquire American Greetings Properties; Deal with DIC Finalized
Cookie Jar Entertainment has not only settled its litigation with American Greetings over its proposed merger with DIC Entertainment, but the children’s entertainment company will acquire AG’s evergreen properties Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears and Sushi Pack for $195 million.

In addition, Cookie Jar announced that its proposed merger with DIC, announced June 20, has been finalized. DIC will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary effective immediately.

“We weren’t looking to sell the properties but in the process of litigation with Cookie Jar and DIC all sides were looking at ways to avoid a lawsuit and this was a solution raised. It was a way for Cookie Jar to grow quickly and we thought it was also in the best interest of American Greetings and a way to monetize some great properties and produce a great return for AG shareholders. For us it made sense given the circumstances and the price,” says Josef Mandelbaum, CEO of the intellectual property group at American Greetings.

The transaction establishes Cookie Jar as one of the world’s largest independent children’s entertainment and education companies with ownership and licensing rights to some of the world’s most recognizable character brands, an animation library totaling nearly 6,000 half-hours of family programming, and strong capabilities in global merchandising and licensing. Through DIC, Cookie Jar also owns a one-third interest in KidsCo, an international children’s television channel that currently has 5 million subscribers and is held in partnership with NBC-Universal and Corus Entertainment.

Under the terms of the agreement, Cookie Jar paid approximately $31.5 million for all of the issued and outstanding equity in DIC in a transaction valued at approximately $87.6 million.

“Cookie Jar is built on a solid foundation of great characters, talented people and the highest standards in kids’ entertainment and education,” says Cookie Jar’s CEO Michael Hirsh. “This transaction is an important milestone in our growth strategy and we continue to be receptive to deals that meet our criteria for excellence.”

“DIC expands our merchandising and licensing capabilities, adds valuable relationships with consumer brands such as McDonald’s, General Mills and Wal-Mart, and deepens our network in the global children’s entertainment industry,” says Cookie Jar president and COO Toper Taylor. “Michael and I look forward to working with [DIC’s] Andy Heyward who will focus on new strategic opportunities for Cookie Jar and build on his relationships in the industry. We are going to move quickly to integrate DIC’s existing operations into Cookie Jar’s ongoing businesses and platforms.”

Heyward has entered into a long-term employment agreement with Cookie Jar. “I am very pleased to be joining Cookie Jar, a profitable and well-capitalized company led by two of our industry’s most successful executives,” says Heyward. “This merger is an exciting development for the future of children’s entertainment worldwide.”
Since being re-introduced in 2002, Strawberry Shortcake and the Care Bears have generated more than $5 billion combined in retail sales of licensed product. As part of the deal, American Greetings gets a 10-year exclusive inbound licensing agreement for social expression products on all three properties.

“Looking at the future, Cookie Jar gets two strong assets and we continue the relationship by retaining the rights to the properties in the social expressions category for 10 years and also have the right of first refusal after that,” says Mandelbaum.

“When Cookie Jar was founded we wanted to become an international power in children’s entertainment programming,” says Cookie Jar’s Hirsh. “We have been filling Cookie Jar with great properties such as Caillou, Arthur, Johnny Test and The Doodlebops. The acquisition of DIC and now Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears makes us the fastest-growing independent player in the industry.”

Mandelbaum from American Greetings adds, “Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears have been synonymous with American Greetings for more than 25 years and are beloved by all. We are very confident that Cookie Jar will be able to take these two properties to new heights. This is a great outcome for our company and shareholders that has allowed us to realize significant value from all of our past efforts in these properties.”

With the sale, American Greetings Properties, the entertainment and licensing division of AG, will continue to develop licensing, marketing and promotional programs for its other franchises including Twisted Whiskers, Mad Balls, Holly Hobbie, TinPo and its new preschool property Maryoku Yummy.

“We are a creative company and we want to leverage all our creative assets such as Twisted Whiskers, Mad Balls and Holly Hobbie and create new properties going forward,” adds Mandelbaum.

The Cookie Jar acquisition of AG’s properties is scheduled to close Sept. 30.

Twentieth Century Fox Licensing & Merchandising Partners with Hallmark Cards
The agreement between Twentieth Century Fox Licensing & Merchandising and Hallmark Cards will provide Hallmark access to sound clips and iconography from Fox’s extensive entertainment library.

Brands from over 50 years of Fox TV and film history will be available across a range of social expression products.  Popular brands include “24,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Arrested Development,” “M*A*S*H”, “X Files,” Night at the Museum, Alvin and the Chipmunks and Juno as well as Fox’s biggest hits Sound of Music, Miracle on 34th Street, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Moulin Rouge, Planet of the Apes and more. The products will feature card innovations including motion, intricate paper engineering and stereo sound.

The merchandise line will be available at Hallmark Gold Crown stores and other major retailers this month. Nearly 3,700 Hallmark Gold Crown stores will have 4-feet of exclusive in-line retail space devoted to the Fox products in addition to front-of-store displays, signage and a print advertising campaign.

Carnival Launches New Online Store
Carnival Cruise Lines has recently introduced the cruise industry’s most extensive online store, www.carnivalfunshop.com, which features Fun Ship-branded merchandise that has previously only been available on board in the ship gift shops.

The site offers a variety of items, including hats, T-shirts and other apparel, travel gear, tote bags, backpacks and toys, all of which are branded with the Carnival name and logo. Visitors can also purchase CDs featuring island music that is reminiscent of the Carnival cruise experience.

It’s a “Deal” for Endemol and Zoo Games
Endemol’s popular franchise “Deal or No Deal” will now become a Nintendo Wii video game from Zoo Games.

The video game will follow the format of the hit television show, with the addition of new game modes and mini-games. It will hit store shelves in November, retailing at $29.99.

Joy Tashjian Marketing Group and 360ep facilitated the agreement.

Hamleys Names Christmas Hot List
U.K.-based international toy retailer Hamleys has named its ‘Hot List’ of must-have toys for Christmas 2008. The eight toys are expected to be the biggest sellers of the season. Five are licensed product. The list includes Baby Born Magic Potty, Hannah Montana Feature Doll, Doctor Who Dalek Voice Changer, High School Musical Fashion Dolls, Monopoly Here and Now World Edition, Dance With Me Teletubbies, Biscuit the Dog and In the Night Garden–Upsy Daisy and Her Bed.

Sesame Street Launches New Web Site
To coincide with the Aug. 11 premiere of the 39th season of Sesame Street on PBS Kids, Sesame Workshop will unveil a unique online experience for preschoolers and their parents at www.sesamestreet.org.

Free to users, the new Web site will feature hundreds of Flash-based games and activities featuring favorite Sesame Street characters, nearly 3,000 classic and current Sesame Street videos and preschooler-friendly applications including PlaySAFE, which will prevent children from navigating away to other sites on their own.

Visitors will also be greeted by live-action Sesame Street characters who will guide users throughout the interactive site.

Additionally, the site will offer a section for parents, including articles, advice and news.

"WordGirl" Honored for Achievement in Children’s Programming
Scholastic’s Emmy award-winning children’s series, "WordGirl," received the 2008 Television Critics Association (TCA) award for outstanding achievement in children’s programming at the 24th annual TCA awards ceremony on July 19.

"WordGirl" is produced by Scholastic’s animation house, Soup2Nuts, and airs five days a week on PBS KIDS GO!ism.

Most recently, the show received a 2008 Emmy for best writing in animation and a 2008 Parent’s Choice Award in the parent’s choice recommended category.

Cesar Millan, Petco Team Up for Exclusive Line
Cesar Millan, dog behavior specialist and star of the National Geographic Channel’s hit show, “Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan,” and Petco, a specialty retailer of pet food, supplies and services, have joined forces to release Cesar Millan “Dog Whisperer”-branded merchandise for dogs.

Among the items in the line, which is expected to include over 100 products, are organic canned and dry dog food, treats, fortified water, liquid supplements, collars and leashes, toys, grooming products, training pads, stain and odor removers, beds, bowls and an instructional series of DVDs.

The products are environmentally friendly, suitable for dogs of all breeds and sizes, and have been personally designed and reviewed by Millan.

In addition, Millan has developed an exclusive online dog-coaching course being offered by PETCO.com. The comprehensive, video-based online program is designed to provide dog owners with the necessary tools to improve their dog’s behavior in the comfort of their own home. Cesar and his wife, Ilusion, have teamed up with IMG's Digital Media division to launch this new business.

“Dinosaurs King” Expands Into Toys
4Kids Entertainment has teamed up with Playmates Toys, Upper Deck and SEGA to launch a worldwide licensing program for the children’s property “Dinosaur King.”

As the master toy licensee, Playmates Toys will release a line of toys inspired by the animated adventure series, including dinosaur figures and role-play items, in North America and Europe in spring 2009.

Upper Deck will release a trading card game based on the brand, which is set to hit store shelves in October. Also this fall, SEGA will introduce a "Dinosaur King" video game for the Nintendo DS platform in September.

Ninja Turtles Turn 25, Boast New Web Site
In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mirage Studios and 4Kids Entertainment have introduced TMNT25.com, a new Web site created for fans of the popular turtles in a half-shell. Fans will have the opportunity to register to receive information and locations for special events, as well as the chance to win rare collectibles, prizes and much more via the downloadable Turtles widget.

"The Wumblers" Flying High
Skeye Inflight Entertainment signed an agreement with The Giddy Gander Company to feature children’s television series "The Wumblers" on Skeye’s current distribution of airline audio-visual programming for children which is distributed to over 200 airlines.

Sanrio and Hello Kitty Partner with Mad Barbarians
Sanrio had developed a collaboration between its international brand Hello Kitty and Japanese design Mad Barbarians, created by artists Katsuya Saito and Masumi Ito and influenced by “pop, rock, cute and foolish.”

The partnership is a fusion of Japanese design, underground art and the iconic imagery of Hello Kitty. Licensed products, including apparel, accessories and lifestyle products, are set to debut holiday 2008 in the United States and spring 2009 in Europe.

Delta Launching Barbie Licensed Product Line
Delta Children’s Products has a broad portfolio of licensed Barbie products ready for holiday 2008.

Products include a wall hook set decorated with butterflies and flowers, door décor writable plaque, jewelry box with rhinestone and gems, light switch plate, tin wastebin, wall mirror featuring a tiara wraparound shelf and storage wall pockets.

Dockers Partners with Bagir on Women’s Line
Dockers San Francisco inked a licensing agreement with Bagir Group Ltd., an Israeli-based global marketer and manufacturer of tailored clothing, to produce a collection of tailored separates for women.

The collection consists of jackets, pants, skirts, dresses and related products. The line includes machine-wash and tumble-dry products and will debut spring 2009 in department stores across the United States. Prices will range from $55 to $119.

FME and BBC Reveal Cast Behind "Merlin"
FremantleMedia Enterprises, in conjunction with BBC One, has named the award-winning cast behind its autumn fantasy drama “Merlin,” which tells the story of the wizard when he was young.

FME holds the distribution, licensing and home entertainment (excluding U.K.) rights to the 13-part series, each an hour in length. Created and produced by Shine Television, the Emmy award-winning production team behind Hex and Sugar Rush, Merlin will premiere on BBC One in September. FME has also already pre-sold the series, sight unseen, in a deal with NBC in the U.S. and CTV in Canada.

Actor John Hurt will provide the voice of the Great Dragon, joined by “Heroes” star Santiago Cabrera as Lancelot, and “Bionic Woman” actress Michelle Ryan as the wicked sorceress Nimueh.

Established British actors including Richard Wilson as Gaius and Anthony Head as King Uther Pendragon are joined by new faces Colin Morgan as the young wizard Merlin; Bradley James as Prince Arthur; Angel Coulby as Guinevere; and newcomer Katie McGrath as Morgana.

"Postman Pat" Delivers Around the World
Entertainment Rights’ "Postman Pat" has launched on China’s national television network, China Central Television. The show debuted on CCTV’s children’s channel—one of 16 individual channels—which has some 200 million viewers. CCTV has acquired 106 episodes of the series.

ER has also secured DVD distributor YiZhouRen as DVD partner for the brand in Chinese-speaking territories. U Young, China’s largest operator in children’s media, and CCTV’s advertising agency are acting as ER’s licensing agent for the region.

ER is currently in discussions with two publishing partners to be finalized in autumn 2008, with consumer products set to roll out in 2009.

The new BBC commission "Postman Pat–Special Delivery Service (SDS)" is due to air on CBeebies this autumn, and has also generated international sales.

Newly signed key deals include ABC (Australia), DRTV (Denmark), TV4 (Sweden), Rai Sat (Italy) MNET (South Africa), MBC (Middle East), ATV (Hong Kong) and True Vision (Thailand). SF Norge (Nordics) and Lusamondo (Portugal) have also come on board as DVD partners for the region.

A new "Postman Pat SDS" DVD will hit stores later in the year, followed by a nationwide retail toy launch early in 2009.

Mipcom Focuses on Spain and Green TV in October
Innovation and creativity in the Spanish audiovisual industry will take center stage at Mipcom 2008 as part of a “Focus on Spain,” a series of events and conferences organized in partnership with the Institute for Spanish Commerce Export (ICEX) and the Federation of Spanish Producers’ Associations (FAPAE).

“Focus on Spain,” with the support of the Spanish public TV and radio group Corporacion RTVE, will provide a snapshot of a fully-diversified audiovisual sector undergoing rapid international expansion. Three conferences will share the spotlight on the Spanish industry – Market Overview; Spanish Fiction: New Business Models and Business Opportunities; and Fresh Fiction from Spain.

During Mipcom Junior, TV3 is hosting a conference entitled Animation From Spain: Sharing Expertise.

Meanwhile, David Zaslav, president and chief executive of Discovery Communications, will make the Mipcom 2008 Green TV keynote address on Oct. 13. Zaslav will discuss Planet Green, Discovery’s global, cross-company initiative that has commited to document, preserve and celebrate the planet. Planet Green includes the first-ever 24-hour eco-lifestyle television network. It launched in the U.S. in June 2008 with more than 250 hours of original programming.

The green-themed sessions will use Havas Media’s research to help consumers who are looking for partners and guide them toward making a difference. This conference will illustrate how TV, film, digital, audiovisual content brands and the industry at large can respond to these challenges. A panel of industry experts will then discuss how attendees will address these issues both through their programming content and overall actions and position themselves with their audience.

Mipcom is held in Cannes from Oct. 13 to 17, 2008. It is preceded by Mipcom Junior on Oct. 11 and 12.

Mirror’s Edge Expands to Video Game, Comic
DICE and WildStorm have created an exclusive, limited-edition Mirror's Edge comic book based on the upcoming Mirror’s Edge video game. It is written and designed by Rhianna Pratchett and drawn by artist Matthew Dow Smith.

The first issue of the series debuted at Comic-Con in San Diego.

Care Bears Celebrate 25 Years with New DVD Collection
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release “The Care Bears: Care-A-Lot Collection” on DVD Aug. 26.

The two-disk DVD set contains 22 classic Care Bears episodes and will retail for $22.98.

Hello Kitty Tins Hit Stores
A new line of Hello Kitty Lucky Stars candy tins from Boston American Corp. are ready to hit regional and national retailers, including Hot Topic, Dylan’s Candy Bar and Urban Outfitters.

Each tin is shaped like a Chinese takeout tin and contains 1.5 ounces of star shaped, fruit-flavored candies.

Kimbo Slice Developing MMA Apparel Line
Mxed Martial Arts superstar Kimbo Slice is teaming with TapouT, a martial arts apparel, gear and lifestyle brand, to create an apparel line. Specific product lines and retail shelf debut dates will be announced in the coming months.

GoAnimate.com to Offer Licensed Content
Entertainment Rights will bring the first licensed content to GoAnimate.com, a Web site which allows users to create their own animations and stories and share creations with others on the internet.

Starting in September, Underdog, Richie Rich and Mr. Magoo will be featured on GoAnimate.com and users will be able to write, create and animate their own episodes. Users will also be able to combine characters from these popular animations with other characters on the site, including political and celebrity avatars.

MTV Networks International Signs Volume Deal with Taiwan’s Yoyo TV
MTV Networks International and Taiwan’s Yoyo TV have signed a deal that includes the acquisition of over 118 hours of animation from Nickelodeon.

The volume deal marks the culmination of the long-standing relationship between MTVNI and Yoyo TV established in 2005, when they launched a Nick-branded block. The latest deal gives Yoyo exclusive access to Nickelodeon titles such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Avatar, Dora the Explorer and Go Diego Go. In addition, Yoyo TV will air the interactive preschool series Blue’s Room.

EM.Sport Grows Stake in Highlight, Sells Entertainment Division
EM.Sport Media is building its stake in Swiss Highlight Communications with the acquisition of 2.8 million shares from Highlight’s president Bernhard Burgener for €16.5 million. This takes EM.Sport’s stake to 43.6 percent, which EM plans to build further.

Meanwhile, antitrust authorities in Germany and Belgium have given the go ahead to complete the sale of EM’s entertainment division to Studio 100 for €41 million.

Nickelodeon Hits 50
Nickelodeon Arabia, which launched last week, is the 50th global channel, according to MTV Networks International.

The Arabic-language channel for children aged 2-14 years has debuted on free-to-air networks Arabsat and Nilesat, reaching a potential audience of 190 million viewers across the Middle East.

Bhavneet Singh, managing director and executive vice president, emerging markets, MTVNI, comments: “Nickelodeon is the first global kids’ media brand to create a free-to-air Arabic service across the region. Adding the voices of Arab children to our worldwide Nickelodeon family is a significant milestone in the brand’s history and we’re proud to launch a service that’s created just for them, reflecting who they are and what they want. We see great growth potential for our brands in the Middle East and we look forward to further expanding our business to provide our audiences with a localized, multi-platform, multi-genre portfolio of relevant content that appeals to every demographic and every age group.”

The channel will be supported by a dedicated Web site available in both Arabic and English.

Art and Design Properties Get New Focus at BLE
Some 45 companies have signed up for the art, design and image licensing zone at October’s Brand Licensing Europe, which takes place at Olympia in London on Oct. 1 and 2.

Among the first-time exhibitors in the zone are Adsett Design Studios, AKG Images, Andrea Jayne Illustrations, Ann Edwards, Blunt, Bohem Press, David Severn, Davina Steel, Heidi Sturgess, Leonard Smith, M.Ily Designs, Nel Whatmore, Paule Marrot Editions, Stephanie Dymant Design, Sublevel Studios, Sue Quinn and Tracey Russell Greetings Cards.

They join 5 Seasons, Berni Parker, Bridgeman Art Library, Christie’s Images, Clare Davis, Crush Licensing, Fun Crew, Halliday Books, House-Mouse Designs, Intercontinental, Kate Knight, LoCoco, Lunartics, Malenda Trick, Mary Evans, Maxandsid, MGL, Pauline Alice Designs, Plus Licens, Santoro Licensing, Science Photo Library, Sophie Jordan Design, Synthesis, The Crafthouse Press, Tom n Ellie, Tony Fernandes, Vicki Thomas Associates and Wendy Darker Art.

Among new properties being launched this year are Hot Diggity Dog, Panda Days, Vanilla Sky, Pink Sorbet and Henpals by Andrea Jayne Illustrations; Percy and His Friends by David Severn; Yummie Mummies and Daniel’s Friends from Pauline Alice Designs; Starfighter Academy and War Stars from Sublevel Studios; Halloween Spooks by Tony Fernandes; and Local Folk and Street Speak from Tosh Licensing.

Richard Horton, international licensing director at Rachael Hale, says: “We have exhibited at Brand Licensing Europe for seven years. Our repeat presence has enabled us to build our profile amongst visitors and strengthen our brand name on the show floor. We welcomed buyers from almost all of high street's biggest names to the stand, and closed a number of new licensing deals in the weeks after the event as a direct result.”

For more information/registration for the event, visit www.brandlicensingeurope.com.

Baking Licensee Relaunches With Fresh Look
U.K. baking mix licensee Green’s is relaunching with new packaging, new recipes, activity sheets and decorating tubes in all kid’s boxes. The re-designed Web site has new content and features on www.greenscakes.co.uk.

Green’s portfolio of licensed products in the baking mixes range includes Barbie, Dennis the Menace, Doctor Who, Dora the Explorer, Tom and Jerry, Noddy, Thomas the Tank Engine and Scooby Doo. As part of the re-launch it is introducing two new properties to the mix—In the Night Garden and children’s classic, Tweety Pie.

Peter Rabbit Leaps Into a New Era of Digital Technology
Peterrabbit.com has relaunched with publisher and brand owner Frederick Warne creating a Web site which retains the charm of Beatrix Potter’s illustrations at the same time providing a richer online experience.

The Web site includes a children’s section, based on the idea of a pop-up book, which provides interactive games and activities for children to do with their parents. The Web site also includes an online bookshop.

Stephanie Barton, managing director of Frederick Warne, says: “It is vital that the Peter Rabbit brand remains relevant and contemporary. By embracing the latest developments in digital technology we have been able to bring the storybook characters to life, with new flash games, sound and animation.”

The site was designed and built by digital agency Complete Control. Developments for 2009 will include an online community for collectors and increased video and audio content.

RDF Rights Signs International Deals for "Yo Gabba Gabba!"
RDF Rights (RDFR), part of the RDF Media Group, has signed a number of international sales for U.S. preschool property "Yo Gabba Gabba!" as the licensing program begins to roll out.

The show premiered on Nick Jr U.S. in August 2007 and was swiftly re-commissioned for a second season. The first season of "Yo Gabba Gabba!" premiered on Nick Jr in the U.K. in February.

RDFR has sold the first series to more than five major international territories including ABC Australia, Nick Australia, Treehouse in Canada, Disney Channel Latin America, Hop Channel in Israel and SABC in South Africa.

The licensed product roll out includes signing publisher Simon & Schuster for Commonwealth rights in "Yo Gabba Gabba!" for a range of books including storybooks, board books, novelty books and activity books. RDFR has also licensed annual rights in "Yo Gabba Gabba!" to Egmont U.K.

Rachel Barke, director of rights for RDF, said, “There is a terrific buzz about this fresh and innovative property in the international market. With a second series in the pipeline, and strong international broadcast partners, we look forward to working with Simon and Schuster and Egmont to build a fantastic publishing program.”

Other U.K. licensees include Spinmaster (master toy), Paramount (DVD), Character World (soft furnishings), Drew Brady & Co. (children and adult socks), GB Eye (posters, postcards and badges), H. Grossman (see saw, swing, scooters, tricycles, bicycles, walker trolleys, sleeping bags, helmets, pads, prams, buggies and skates), Portico Designs (greeting cards, gift wrap, gift bags and social stationery), Rainbow Productions (Brobee character costume), Redan (magazine), Vogue International (drinkware, tableware, lunch boxes, lunch bags and room décor), Worlds Apart (Go Glow inflatable chair and sofa, bed, play tent, kite and MDF bed).

Over 20 licensees have been signed in the U.S. to produce a wide range of merchandise. Kidrobot, a retail subsidiary of W!LDBRAIN, was the first to hit shelves with "Yo Gabba Gabba!" speciality toys and apparel. Other U.S. licensees include Spin Master as master toy licensee (worldwide); Nickelodeon/Paramount for home entertainment; Nick Records/Sony BGM for music; Simon & Schuster, master publishing licensee; and Success Apparel, master apparel, among others.

"Yo Gabba Gabba!," created by Christian Jacobs and Scott Schultz of The Magic Store, is produced by The Magic Store and W!LDBRAIN. The U.S. series was re-versioned for Nick Jr U.K. by independent children’s production company The Foundation, part of the RDF Media Group. More than 25 million video streams of the show have been generated on Nick.com since July.

"Numberjacks" Opens for Business Online
"Numberjacks," the children’s TV program, has launched an online shop operating through the existing Web site www.numberjacks.co.uk.

Product available at the online shop includes DVDs, skates, knee pads, skittles, sponge balls, a range of plush toys in the shape of numbers, puzzles, books, cutlery, plates and bowls, posters, birthday cards and gift wrap.

Nick Underwood, from production company Open Mind Productions, says, “The Numberjacks merchandise has been eagerly anticipated and we’re delighted to offer fans an additional way to browse and shop online.”

The shop is an extension of the ITV Online Shop managed by U.K.-based online retail services business Digital Stores.

Calon TV Publishes "Hana’s Helpline" Books
Welsh TV company Calon has branched into publishing with the launch of two new books based on the animated pre-school series "Hana’s Helpline."

The books are produced in partnership with Welsh TV channel S4C, which is due to screen series two this autumn, and are based on the stories from Holi Hana, the Welsh-language version of the series. The Welsh books are a co-edition with publisher Random House, which has already published six titles based on the English language versions of the series.

“This is a Welsh show, and it’s important to us that Welsh-speaking children can enjoy Holi Hana in all the ways that children can in other languages,” says Calon’s managing director Robin Lyons. “We plan to release more books in Welsh, as well as a DVD,” he says.

The second series of "Hana’s Helpline" will be screened on the U.K.’s Five network this autumn.

Taymai Launches Internet Comic+
Taymai, which specializes in the new media promotion of character-based intellectual properties, has launched the first edition of online multimedia comic Taymai Comic+.

Taymai Comic+ is a free, online, page-turning comic targeting kids aged 8 to14, and features established characters such as Roobarb & Custard and new properties including The Screamers.

Each character featured in Taymai Comic+ is offered with merchandise through an online print-on-demand store.

Taymai stands for Tell All Your Mates About It.

VizWoz Goes to the Virtual Cinema
U.K.-based virtual community for children and teens, VizWoz, has signed deals for content with film studios including Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, Universal and Twentieth Century Fox. The studios will provide content for the VizWoz virtual cinema including previews, film clips, trailers and interviews from theatrical releases.

Iron Man, Indiana Jones, Nim’s Island, Wild Child, Meet Dave, and Disney/Pixar’s WALL-E are the movies to be showcased on the digital platform.

The Viz Cinema launched in May, and during the first three weeks of opening, the virtual cinema attracted 75,865 hits. VizWoz.com claims overall site figures of 4,205,000 room movements to date, 600,000 games played (including multiplayer), 335,000 total logins and the average time spent online now amounts to 1 hour, 41 minutes.

Dan Laurence, chief executive and founder of VizWoz, comments: “Entertainment is the heart of VizWoz and therefore we are committed to providing our audience with top-quality content that will keep their fingers on the pulse with all the latest movies, music and gaming. Partnering with the major film studios forms an integral part in our ongoing strategy to create the No. 1 destination of choice for kids and teens to catch all the latest movies, watch music videos, listen to their favorite tracks, play games or just hover and hang out. Our aim is to offer a one-stop portal where kids can enjoy spending time in a safe and engaging environment that they can rely on to keep them ahead of the game.”

Children’s Book Series “Babymouse” Signs with United Media
United Media announced their agency representation for children’s graphic novel series “Babymouse” merchandise.  United Media will work with the creators of the children’s books, Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm, on a comprehensive program in the U.S. and Canada. 

Licensed products, featuring the trend-forward comic-style look of “Babymouse,” include apparel, accessories, stationery, gift, back-to-school, interactive, toy and craft.  The program, which follows eight titles currently in the market and two additional titles planned for release each year, will target 6- to 11-year-old girls.

S&K Famous Brands Announce Strategic Initiatives
S&K looks to grow its dress furnishings, rental formalwear and fashion sportswear lines and target contemporary, fashionable and youthful customers with a spate of new initiatives.

The initiatives announced by S&K include hiring strategic consulting firm Alvarez and Marsal LLC, eliminating 50 full-time positions to reduce overhead costs, realign locations and redesign stores for best brand representation and financial return, and realign merchandise through store-closing sales and inventory reduction.

MIPCOM Junior Hosts “The Licensing Challenge”
In partnership with License! Global, MIPCOM Junior will be hosting “The Licensing Challenge,” a pitching session designed to showcase the TV property with the highest licensing potential. An international jury (to be announced) will select a winner during the MIPCOM Junior show, to be held in Cannes Oct. 6 and 7, from a shortlist of five entrants. The winner will be offered advice on how to hit the international stores, plus receive prizes designed to establish the contestants’ global presence. For more information and to enter a submission, go to www.mipcomjunior.com/ licensing.htm.

Penguin DVD Blasts Into Stores
The latest action adventure DVD, “3-2-1 Penguins!: Save the Planets,”  from Big Idea  is set to hit retail shelves on Sept. 2.

The DVD launch is supported by an extensive marketing and promotions campaign from its partners, including Applebee’s, Chick-fil-A, Chuck E. Cheese’s, Litehouse Foods and Nathan’s Famous.

The DVD features three all-new episodes of the popular series. It will retail at $14.93 and is distributed by Genius Products.

Rock Legends to Appear in Guitar Hero Video Games
The iconic rocker Jimi Hendrix will be featured in the upcoming Guitar Hero World Tour video game from Activision Publishing.

Hendrix will appear as a playable character, along with two of his most popular tracks, Purple Haze and The Wind Cries Mary.

Additionally, legendary guitarists Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Buckethead made their debut in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, released on July 24.

National Geographic, Zazzle Offer Custom Online Boutique for Mama Mirabelle
National Geographic Kids Entertainment and on-demand retail platform Zazzle will represent the animated preschool series “Mama Mirabelle’s Home Movies” online with a custom merchandise boutique at www.zazzle.com/mamamirabelle.

The boutique features Mama Mirabelle-themed merchandise, which customers can order on-demand and customize with their own images and text.

Merchandise ranges from $1 to $100 and includes adult, children and baby apparel, tote bags, office accessories, stationery, key chains, buttons, mugs and series artwork.

Mattel Continues as Master Toy Licensee for Monster Jam

Live Nation Motor Sports has extended its relationship with Mattel as the worldwide master toy licensee for its successful Monster Jam brand through 2013.

The Monster Jam line will include replicas of Monster Jam vehicles based on more than 70 of the world’s most famous monster trucks, as well as play sets and accessories, construction sets, board games, puzzles, plastic model kits, carrying cases, and ride-on vehicles.

Additionally, 4Kids Entertainment, the global licensing agent for Live Nation Motor Sports, has announced multi-year partnerships for Monster Jam with Accessory Innovations, H3 Sportgear, SG Footwear, Smilemakers and Kellytoy USA.

MLB Authentic Collection Partners with Music For Relief
MLB Authentic Collection and Champs Sports have contributed $25,000 to Music For Relief, a non-profit organization comprised of musicians and music industry professionals dedicated to providing aid to victims of natural disasters and preventing future disaster.

In addition, Major League Baseball’s “Access to the Show” and rock band Linkin Park have teamed up for the Projekt Revolution Tour to bring the MLB Road Show to concert goers.

Ike Behar Signs Trafalgar Leather Goods for Accessories Line
Ike Behar has entered a licensing agreement with the Trafalgar Leather Goods division of Randa Accessories, who will manufacture and market the Ike Behar collection of leather belts, business cases, personal travel accessories and small leather goods for men.

The first luxury accessories line is set to arrive in stores on April 2009, with retail prices starting at $125.

Executive Moves
Corus Entertainment has made a number of senior management changes.

John Cassaday, president and CEO of Corus, a Canadian-based media and entertainment company, will also assume operating responsibility for Corus Radio on an interim basis beginning in September.

Scott Dyer will become chief technology officer, with operational and strategic responsibility for the core business and new media business.

Doug Murphy will assume the role of president for Nelvana, and executive vice president and general manager, Corus Kids. Murphy will oversee all of the global kids business for Corus.

Jetix Europe has promoted Michael Ghosh to pan-European advertising sales director. Ghosh, who currently heads up the Jetix U.K. and Nordic sales teams, will be responsible for developing Jetix Europe’s pan-European and multi-territory advertising sales and sponsorship business across Jetix’s 15 TV channels and 19 Web sites www.jetixeurope.com.

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