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DreamWorks' Super Agent Man

DreamWorks' Super Agent Man

As part of its corporate global branding strategy launched last year, DreamWorks Animation is overhauling its agency model to further penetrate local markets throughout the EMEA and grow its brand licensing business.

As part of its corporate global branding strategy launched last year, DreamWorks Animation is overhauling its agency model to further penetrate local markets throughout the EMEA and grow its brand licensing business.

As part of its corporate global branding strategy launched last year, DreamWorks Animation is overhauling its agency model to further penetrate local markets throughout the EMEA and grow its brand licensing business.

In addition, with the strong box office performance worldwide of How to Train Your Dragon 2 this summer along with a new and robust content slate in the pipeline, DreamWorks Animation is well positioned for international growth over the next 24 months.

"As the movie studio evolves to become a truly global family entertainment brand, it allows our consumers to touch our properties in many different ways, through live experiences, publishing and an increasing array of consumer products, which we continue to create," says Andrew Alsop, head of licensing, EMEA, who joined DreamWorks Animation six months ago to spearhead growth in key territories across Europe, the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe and Africa.

"DreamWorks Animation has partnered with some of the top licensing agencies to handle the complete DWA portfolio and create a single point of contact for both licensees and retailers," explains Alsop, a former Disney executive since 2007.

DWA's licensing partners include:

  • Super RTL: Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
  • Planeta Junior: Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Central and Eastern Europe.
  • CPLG and France Televisions Distribution: France.
  • Saban Brands: Israel.
  • CPL: Brazil and Mexico.
  • ECL: Russia.
  • CJ Entertainment and Joon: South Korea.
  • Oriental DreamWorks: China.

Separately, DreamWorks Animation invested in a direct licensing structure in the U.K. led by industry veteran Richard Hollis, who joined the company January 2014.

In addition, Alsop says that agents for the Middle East and Africa will be appointed by year-end.

One of the distinguishable elements with some of the licensing agent partnerships is that they are also DWA's broadcast partners.

"We have strong broadcast partners such as Super RTL and Planeta, who also have established consumer products divisions, so it made sense that we should partner with them and put more dedicated resources against the DWA business, so we have a strong position within those markets," says Alsop.

For example, he points to the partnership with Super RTL, which formulated specific strategies for Dragons and created a completely integrated marketing program from prior to theatrical release through to DVD as well as for 2015 activities in anticipation of new content.

Alsop is bullish about Russia claiming that the DreamWorks brand over-indexes there. He also points to the success of the Dragons franchise, which he says had a strong performance at the box office this summer, becoming the fifth largest-grossing film in Russia.

According to Box Office Mojo, How To Train Your Dragon 2 posted a total of $605 million in box office revenue with $430 million attributed to international sales.

"The passion, desire and pent-up demand for consumer products for evergreen properties such as Dragons, Shrek, Penguins, and Kung Fu Panda offer strong opportunities for growth. This is a territory in which we are pushing on an opening door and they are ready, and wanting to develop an array of consumer products," Alsop says.

For DreamWorks Animation to achieve growth and success internationally, the studio needs to focus not only on its core franchises and theatrical releases, but on new content as well. Key properties currently in the pipeline include:

  • Theatrical: Penguins of Madagascar (November); in 2015–Home (March), B.O.O. Bureau of Otherworldly Operations (June), and Kung Fu Panda (December); in 2016–Trolls (December).

"For Home and B.O.O., which we hope to build into franchise properties, we are in negotiations with licensees and retailers for consumer products programs to tie in with these releases," Alsop says, adding that he continues to expand Dragons into new categories as well as Penguins, which releases later this year.

  • TV: Exclusive deals with Netflix include "DinoTrux," "King Julien," "Veggie Tales in the House" and "Puss in Boots."
  • Live events: One of DreamWorks Animation's initiatives is the partnership with Merlin Entertainment for Shrek's Far Far Away Adventure, with the first attraction opening summer 2015 in London.
  • DreamWorks Classics continues to expand Postman Pat, Where's Waldo? and Noddy.
  • AwesomenessTV continues to expand its audience with new content and talent.
  • DreamWorks Press, the studio's newly established division, will expand its print and digital books based on the studio's key franchises.

The new DreamWorks licensing structure will allow for better communication and execution, according to Alsop. "Through our agents, we can provide all of our licensees with great selling tools and the insights they need to create innovative and compelling products, which reflect the key attributes of our franchises," he says. "We are spending a lot of time explaining the DWA strategy, our licensing strategy and providing a long-term vision of the organization."

The goal is that this in turn will help to establish stronger relationships with retailers, a cross-category approach with major retailers as well as working more closely with local and specialty retailers, Alsop points out.

"We have more franchises and a much improved consumer products offering at retail," Alsop says. "We have a far more integrated approach, a stronger marketing message and more sustained activity over 365 days."

With such a strong global organizational structure in place, DreamWorks Animation is poised to expand its business to more markets, more retailers and a broader audience. International growth is a critical component to the future of the studio, and Alsop is excited to be part of the journey to help establish DreamWorks as a dominant global family entertainment brand.

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