Children’s Place to Acquire Disney Stores
Children’s Place has agreed to acquire Disney’s 313 stores with plans to invest $100 million in store upgrades. While the price wasn’t revealed, Children’s Place will acquire the chain in exchange for a payment to Disney for inventory, cash, and other assets to be determined at the close of the year, probably by year-end. In 2006, Children’s Place will pay unspecific royalties to Disney as part of a 15-year licensing deal, plus three 10-year renewal options contingent on achieving certain unspecific financial milestones. Children’s Place also intends to expand the chain to 600 stores with an emphasis on Metropolitan New York and Houston.
Foursome Partner on Preschool Cable Channel
Comcast Corporation, HIT Entertainment PLC, PBS, and Sesame Workshop joined forces on a 24-hour digital cable television channel for preschool-aged children and companion video-on-demand (VOD) service. The channel will feature a library of more than 4,000 episodes from shows such as Bob the Builder, Barney, Thomas & Friends, Angelina Ballerina, and additional PBS KIDS titles. Beginning in early 2005, the companion VOD package will be available to cable companies in the U.S. and will include more than 50 hours of programming for preschoolers and their families. The 24x7 digital cable channel is expected to launch in fall 2005.
Bandai Games for Zatch! Bell
ShoPro Entertainment named Bandai America master licensee for Zatch Bell! video games and trading card games in the U.S. and Canada. The TV series aimed at boys ages 8 to 14 will debut on Cartoon Network in spring 2005. The video games will be available on all major platforms.
New AOL Deals
America Online and 4Kids Entertainment launched an all-new world on AOL’s KOL service for kids. This new area gives kids access to customized content, video games, and interactive features from properties such as Yu-Gi-Oh!, Winx Club, One Piece, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, F-Zero, Kirby, and Shaman King. In the 4Kids World, kids can access special programming and interactive features on these TV shows, including information about upcoming episodes, buddy icons, games, printables, and new toys. 4Kids World also will have special content on Cabbage Patch Kids, Artlist Collection: The Dog/The Cat, the Incredible Crash Dummies, American
Kennel Club, and Monster Jam
In other news, America Online and VIZ, LLC, a publisher and distributor of manga and anime for North American audiences, are partnering on AOL’s RED service access to 13 flash manga episodes of Shonen Jump’s Dragon Ball. Each Friday for the next 13 weeks, AOL’s RED service for teens will offer an exclusive premiere of a new episode of the fantasy action series at 3:00 p.m. EST. Teens on the RED service will have exclusive access to the episode for 48 hours before it becomes available to all Internet users at www.shonenjump.com
Forbes.com Reveals Hot Characters in Annual Survey
Ten hot fictional characters topped Forbes.com’s annual Top Earning Fictional Character List, while five others were included in the Near Misses list. The Walt Disney Co. made a respectable showing with Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh & Friends, Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, and Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo. Just missing the mark were Disney’s Power Rangers and Disney/Pixar’s Buzz Lightyear. Rounding out the list of top earning characters were Frodo Baggins of Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Yu-Gi-Oh!, SpongeBob SquarePants, Spider-Man, Wolverine of X-Men, and Pikachu of Pokémon. The Near Misses listing also included The Simpsons, Dora the Explorer, and The Hulk. To qualify for the list, a character needed to be both “fictional” and a “character” translated as having debuted in a book, film, or video game. To calculate the earnings, Forbes.com tallied worldwide toy/merchandise sales, video game sales, publishing and box-office revenue, as well as DVD/VHS sales and rental revenue.
Atari Expands Children’s Offerings
Atari, Inc., will create three new games for children including Dora the
Explorer: Fairytale Adventure, My Little Pony, and Tonka Construction
PC Play Packs. Priced at $19.99, the three new titles feature innovative packaging that shows off a premium item in the front of a clear plastic box and the CD in the back.
MODA Launches International Division
MODA International Marketing launched a new company, MODA Marketing & Licensing. The Geneva, Switzerland-based company will be headed by Michelle Alfandari and Julien Born, who started this new venture in part to “respond to an increasing demand among European companies to optimize the management and maximize the returns of their intangible assets, namely brands and patents.” MODA International Marketing, a brand licensing agency based in New York, established an exclusive strategic alliance with the newly formed European entity.
Stone America Licensing Camps out with New Client
Stone America Licensing will create a licensing program for Kampgrounds of America after being named exclusive licensing agent. The KOA name and logo is synonymous with camping all across North America and has hosted nearly 500 million campers in 40-plus years of doing business.
Sesame Workshop Takes Fresh Approach
Sesame Workshop is partnering with Produce for Better Health Foundation on a new retail promotion, “Building Blocks for a Colorful Future.” The promotion was kicked off at the recently held Product Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit as a means of educating parents and children on the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables. A key component of the initiative is 5 A Day The Color Way-themed retail events starting next year. One event is a national FSI in January and September, and the others are quarterly, retail promotions featuring the Sesame Street characters.
In other company news, Sesame Workshop promoted Risa Nelson to assistant vice president of international licensing.
Aylwin Named Kmart President, CEO
Kmart Holding hired Aylwin Lewis as president and CEO to replace outgoing CEO Julian Day. Lewis also will join the Kmart board of directors. Lewis joins Kmart from YUM! Brands, Inc., where he was president and chief multi-branding and operating officer.
Execs on the Move
Nancy Bailey and Associates, Inc., announced additional promotions and new staff members to the organization. Connie Billett was promoted to executive vice president. Pat Denman was promoted to manager, graphics and product approvals. Lynne Fox joined the company as contract and royalty administrator. Lynn Moran was appointed to lead the sales organization at Russ Berrie and Company, Inc., as executive vice president of sales. Patricia Rosati was named director of school and library marketing at HarperCollins Children’s Books.
LINK—Licensing International Networking Conference, Miami, FL November 2-4, 2004
Warren Kornblum, president and CEO of Shadow Entertainment Group and former CMO of Toys “R” Us, is a LINK keynote speaker. Latin American Roundtable panelists include David Diesendruk, Redibra; Elias Fasja, Tycoon Enterprises; Elias Hofman, Exim Licensing Group; and Lisa Weger, Cartoon Network Latin America. This is in addition to a full roster of speakers, which can be viewed at www.linkconference.com Attendees of this executive-level educational and networking event presented by License! include: FAB/Starpoint, General Motors, Hot Topic, The Joester Loria Group, Mervyn’s, and Claire’s Stores. A full list is available on our Website. LINK takes place at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami from November 2-4, 2004. WHERE WILL YOU BE? Only one week left to register at www.linkconference.com
For more licensing news and features, visit www.licensemag.com For more information on Action Performance Companies’ latest licensing efforts, visit www.action-performance.com