‘Brands Have Never Had a Greater Need to Tell Stories to Their Audience’ – Universal Products & Experiences on Audience Content Consumption Changes

License Global speaks with Romain Cottineau, director France, retail, marketing and category, Universal Products & Experiences, about European consumer demand trends ahead of France Licensing Day.

Ian Hart, Senior Digital Editor U.K. & EMEA

June 4, 2024

5 Min Read
Romain Cottineau, Universal Products & Experiences
Romain CottineauUniversal Products & Experiences

License Global: One of Universal’s big releases this year is “Despicable Me 4.” What is it about that IP, and the Minions in particular, that resonates so well with consumers? 

Romain Cottineau: Illumination’s Minions are a global phenomenon and are the cornerstone of the world’s most successful animated franchise. Chris Meledandri’s creativity-first approach to filmmaking has patented an unbeatable formula for the modern-day animated blockbuster as its many records and awards attest. The Minions resonate with a global audience because there’s a common denominator among people throughout the world: we all love to laugh.

Sweet and subversive, the Minions are modern and relevant and connect to all audiences across the globe. The IP translates perfectly to merchandise across all categories. Bold and dynamic, the Minions literally pop on products, satisfying retailer demand for visually appealing lines that enhance the brand experience and stand out on shelf.

The first “Minions” movie was released in 2010 and fans are growing up alongside the brand. It’s exciting to see the Minions emerge as icons for today’s generation. Their influence on pop culture can be seen on products from streetwear brands to tech accessories to more traditional categories like toys, pets and lifestyle. In addition to classic core category lines, including toys from Moose and LEGO, partners include Funko, Mighty Jaxx and Abysse Corp, as well as fashion and living lines with Kiabi and Carrefour and the successful FMCG category where products including dairy and cheese products have become a staple of the weekly grocery shop.

Related:The France Licensing Landscape

How do you strategize and plan for a consumer products program aligned to the release of a big movie like this?

Minions is one of our key franchises, and it therefore benefits from an “always on” strategy and the studio’s collective commitment to keeping the brand fresh and relevant through new multiplatform content, experiences and consumer products even outside of tentpole movie release periods.

Key seasonal moments, including high summer and back-to-school are of annual importance but will be further amplified in our 2024 movie year with global toy partner, Moose, and additional licensing opportunities across lifestyle, fashion, home, food, beverage or stationery with Bic.

Minions Products, Universal Products & Experiences

What else can you tell us about other upcoming releases and potential accompanying licensed consumables that may coincide with the release?

Universal’s slate is rich for 2024 both on TV and at the cinema. Our “always on” investment will continue to be applied across all our core franchises, including “Jurassic World,” which returns to Netflix later this year with a new DreamWorks Animation TV series, “Jurassic World: Chaos Theory,” while “Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous” is still on-air on Gulli. New product lines from Mattel and LEGO and back-to-school collections from Kiabi and Carrefour will launch later this year, keeping fans engaged ahead of the new movie which was recently confirmed for 2025.

Related:France Licensing Day 2024 Opens for Registration

France continues to be a key market for DreamWorks Animation’s “Gabby’s Dollhouse” with preschoolers set to enjoy three new seasons of the show on Netflix and first seasons on Gulli. Per Circana Retail Tracking, “Gabby’s Dollhouse” is already the second most popular preschool property in France achieving exceptional growth in the toy category in 2023 with sales increasing by an incredible 217%. Spin Master and LEGO will be launching new products in support of the new content in 2024 alongside Smoby, Canal Toys, Hachette, Aventure Diffusion, Bagtrotter and Kiabi.

Last but certainly not least, we close the year with the highly anticipated movie of 2024, “Wicked.” The first part of the feature-film adaptation will be released on Nov. 27, and we can’t wait for this gravity-defying cinematic event.

What excites you most about creating new collaborations? 

Brands have never had a greater need to tell stories to their audience. The product alone is crucial to be attractive, but no longer enough as brands need to maintain regular relationships with their audience supported by different ecosystems. Telling stories has been our core business for over 100 years at Universal, so our franchises attract many partners from different categories, from fashion and living to FMCG and toys. The UP&E team takes great pleasure in building these collaborations with our licensee partners by going further than the product with integrations into our retail and marketing plans. I love first discussions with a new partner – understanding their market to provide qualified answers as to why it makes sense to collaborate. Ultimately our job is a type of consulting. 

What do you see as the current consumer demand trends for licensed products across Europe? 

Interactions between consumers and our franchises, as well as the ways of consuming content have changed over the last five years, contributing to new demands on our IPs. Cinema retains a strong momentum to amplify consumer demand but the emergence of consumption on-demand for TV series allows the accelerated birth of new properties. The success of “Gabby’s Dollhouse” on Netflix is a great example of this new trend.

We have also never talked so much about kidults, fans of pop culture and more nostalgic brands. “Funko Fusion,” the upcoming multiplayer mash-up console/PC game featuring dozens of characters in Funko Pop! form from “Jurassic World,” “Back to the Future,” “The Umbrella Academy” and more will be released later this year with NBCUniversal as a premier launch partner.

At UP&E, we are very well-positioned to address these multiple consumer touchpoints, and it is even one of our strengths that makes us the licensor of choice for our various partners.

You will be exhibiting at France Licensing Day in Paris later this month; what are your aims for being there, and what do you hope to get out of the event?

France Licensing Day is a key event within the licensing industry and an opportunity to meet in person all our partners and new ones, from licensees to retailers, in one place.

We have recently strengthened the consumer products team in France allowing us to be closer to our partners to develop our business and serve the great sources of growth we have in our country.

For this 2024 session, we have so many updates to share about our brands so be curious and don’t hesitate to contact my team and me to meet that day. 

Universal Products & Experiences is exhibiting at France Licensing Day and Licensing International Awards 2024, which returns to Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris in Paris, France, on June 27. Registration is now open.

About the Author(s)

Ian Hart

Senior Digital Editor U.K. & EMEA, License Global

Ian joined the License Global editorial team in May 2022 as digital editor for the U.K. and EMEA, becoming Senior Digital Editor in April 2023.

Ian is a huge fan of sports and entertainment brands and, as a father, toys and kids' brands are a large part of his life!

He has been at Informa (formerly UBM) since 2018, where he was previously the editor of SHP, a B2B digital publication aimed at health & safety professionals.

Ian studied journalism at university before spending seven years in online fantasy gaming. Prior to moving to Informa, Ian worked in B2B trade print media, in the automotive sector, working on various publications aimed at independent automotive technicians and parts distributors.

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry Article
Join 62,000+ members. Yes, it's completely free.

You May Also Like