K-Pop Groups ITZY, Treasure to Launch Character IPs

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BT21, the character IP co-created by Line Friends and BTS, has inspired two new ranges of character IPs with ITZY and Treasure. In partnership with both groups, Line Friends will bring fresher takes on its character IP business by maximizing fandom engagement from the initial level of character development.

A global character brand, Line Friends is pushing the boundaries of character IP business by bringing new, unprecedented types of collaboration with global artists.

Line Friends is moving beyond the conventional character business and broadening its horizons. Building upon the BT21 momentum, Line Friends is now ready to bring fresher takes with two rising K-pop supergroups, Itzy and Treasure, by driving fan engagement.

Itzy, a five-member girl group from JYP Entertainment who debuted in 2019, is creating its own unique characters embodying the identity of “lifelong friends,” from drawing sketches to detailing the characteristics, preferences and values. Midzy, the fandom, is joining the journey toward this character IP development, given the opportunities to share creative ideas on their social media platforms.

For Treasure, a 12-member rookie boy band from YG Entertainment, Line Friends will bring into play interactive gaming factors from the initial stage of the character development. With the support of Treasure Maker, the fandom, Treasure members will be completing gaming quests to design the appearance, personality and capability of their unique characters.

The full making process of Itzy and Treasure characters can be viewed at Line Friend’s official YouTube channel.

Legends Details How They Take the Pitch with Sports Brands and Retail Partners

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Consumer product licensing in the sports space is wholly unique from other facets of the industry. From the passion of fans to the ins-and-outs of league play, licensing in sports comes down to the unique brand of each given team.

To learn more about these intricacies in the field, License Global recently interviewed Victoria Hawksley, vice president, international retail, Legends. In her role, Hawksley helps develop merchandising strategies for Legends clients such as Real Madrid. She comes to Legends after spending 14 years with the Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, where she most recently served as the head of retail and visitor attractions.

During our retail-focused interview, Hawksley highlighted the unique opportunities for licensing with sports teams, the one-to-one approach needed to work with each different client and how retail has evolved as more people stay close to home due to COVID-19. 

License Global: How does Legends' approach differ, and how do you provide these major global brands with retail solutions?

Hawksley: Legends focuses on the whole customer journey for the brands we work with, fully integrating with the teams, and providing a valuable resource to deliver the best experience and engagement for fans. We provide this through fully integrated systems and operations delivered by the best talent.  

As retail service providers, you have a huge array of clients. How do the needs of Liverpool F.C. or Man City differ from, say, the NFL or Dallas Cowboys?

Every client’s needs are unique to their brand, vision, KPI’s, and journey, but one thing remains constant – making sure that the experience of the fan is the best-in-class and they continue to feel valued and part of the journey.  

Do retail solutions for consumers have an international differentiation, or are there global trends that help you create storefronts for these brands?

Yes – there are differences across the global markets in fan and purchasing behavior. We have to be mindful and aware of these habits to create an engaging experience. It may be about sizing ranges, payment, or delivery options that enable us to connect with the customers in the right way and with confidence in the services we offer. 

In terms of merchandise and licensed goods, how have you seen that business shift, and how are you integrating that change into your latest projects?

An omnichannel retail experience allows brands to connect with fans around the world, especially during a time when fans have to stay at home and are spending more time online. This also allows for a seamless customer journey and experience from selection to payment.

What are some of the more successful project launches you've worked on and why?

The opening of the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the largest retail space of any football club in Europe. 

What's next, and what trends are you expecting to see in the retail market in 2021?

The customer journey and the connection between the channels to have a seamless experience is crucial for the future success in retail.

Licensed ‘Overwatch’ Merch Drops

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“Overwatch” fans can get ready to fuel their fandom with new apparel, collectibles, comics and more inspired by the game, as multiple new and recent partnerships have been officially announced.

“Overwatch” character cars from Hot Wheels have been unveiled. The new line of cars is available now on the Blizzard Gear Store and at all major retailers worldwide. These sculpted cars are made in the likeness of D.Va, Genji, Reaper, Tracer and Solider 76.

Fall fashion from Pull&Bear and Koyorin have been revealed in the line. For fans looking to flaunt their fandom and upgrade their wardrobe, Blizzard Entertainment has partnered with retailer Pull&Bear and illustrator Koyorin for two lines of “Overwatch”-themed apparel in collaboration with European licensee Level-Up. 

Coming early this October from retailer Pull&Bear is a ‘90s-inspired streetwear collection with oversized logos that lets fans show their support of heroes including D.VA, Winston, Reaper, Doomfist and more. 

From illustrator and character designer Koyorin comes a limited-edition capsule collection available now through Ark8. This outerwear line features Mercy, Tracer, Widowmaker, Wrecking Ball and D.VA.

In addition, a comic series called “Overwatch: Tracer–London Calling” is officially available.  Players looking to cozy up with new reading material can check out Issue No. 1. In partnership with Dark Horse comics, this comic is free-to-read through Dark Horse Digital and on PlayOverwatch. As an added bonus, players can participate in the in-game event, Tracer’s Comic Challenge, which is live now through Sept. 29.

“Overwatch” players and fans can also head to the Blizzard Gear Store to build out their command center with home and office products, add to their wardrobe with additional apparel offerings and complete their collection with a line-up of collectibles. Products are available now.

Caroline Mickler to Rep Fashion Photographer Norman Parkinson

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Caroline Mickler has teamed up with Iconic Images to represent Norman Parkinson, one of the most celebrated fashion photographers of the twentieth century.

Caroline Mickler Ltd. is exhibiting at Festival of Licensing, a month-long large-scale digital gathering that unites the global licensing industry to connect, learn, strike deals and do business on an international stage. The event takes place Oct. 6-29. Register for free now!

“Norman Parkinson’s images for many years have been celebrated in books and magazines, his fine art prints adorned the walls of galleries and homes globally, we are delighted to collaborate with Caroline Mickler and through merchandise bring this wonderful archive to a brand new audience,” says Alexis Venn, licensing head, Iconic Images.

Norman Parkinson’s career spanned the 1950s through the 1980s including a long collaboration with Vogue magazine. His images capture the style of the twentieth century, from pre-war 1930s Britain and the austerity fashions of World War Two, the Parisian New Look of the 1950s and Swinging London in the 1960s, to the glamour and glitz of the 1970s and ‘80s. In the 1970s, his images helped elevate new models Jerry Hall and Iman to superstar status.

“Photography as an art form has the ability to capture a unique moment in time, and Norman Parkinson’s body of work is still highly relevant,” says Caroline Mickler. “We believe that a Norman Parkinson collection of licensed stationery, ceramics, apparel and gift products will allow consumers to enjoy beautiful fashion photography for many years to come.”

Genius Brands Appoints Global Brands President and CMO

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Genius Brands International has announced that Marc Rosenberg has been appointed president, global brands and chief marketing officer.  

“I have known Marc for 20 years and have witnessed his extraordinary achievements and energy firsthand,” says Andy Heyward, chairman and chief executive officer, Genius Brands. “He is one of the most respected executives in the kids’ licensing industry and joins a team of proven achievers at Genius Brands now, who are known for their successes over and over again, across the entertainment food chain. With ‘Rainbow Rangers,’ ‘Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten,’ ‘Llama Llama,’ ‘Stan Lee Universe’ and new properties shortly to be announced, Marc’s pedigree and leadership will ensure that we maximize revenue generation from the powerful brands we will be bringing to market. His reputation is that of an innovator in the product and marketing arenas. In putting our marketing and global revenue under Marc’s remit, I know we will see all of these important properties flourish. He brings not only his marketing and sales expertise to the company, but also relationships across retail, entertainment, consumer products and more, all of which Genius Brands will showcase across the company’s growing portfolio of brands.”

Former head of marketing at Hasbro Toys and Tiger Electronics, Rosenberg is best known for his role in leading global marketing teams for brands such as Furby, GigaPets and Hit Clips. More recently, Marc Rosenberg was the chief marketing officer at Zizzle, where he helped lead product launches for several extremely successful licensed toy lines, including Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean,” Disney’s “High School Musical” and a number of extremely successful licensed toy lines. 

“I have been fortunate to be a part of and lead teams with both tremendous products and incredible people,” says Rosenberg. “The central theme of everything that I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of is directly related to the story for each brand and creating a dialogue with each audience in timely and relevant ways. That is particularly the case at Genius Brands where there is a cross-company commitment to bring positive enriching stories for children, and we have so many incredible tools to work with to reach kids today, including our own recently launched Kartoon Channel!”

Rosenberg will continue to own his current Edge Desk business, with the current management operating the day-to-day business with his oversight. 

Crunchyroll Games Launches RPG Brawler ‘Grand Alliance’

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Crunchyroll has unleashed an anime-inspired RPG game called “Grand Alliance.”

Crunchyroll is exhibiting at Festival of Licensing, a month-long large-scale digital gathering that unites the global licensing industry to connect, learn, strike deals and do business on an international stage. The event takes place Oct. 6-29. Register for free now!

The story of “Grand Alliance” follows Amelia, the last surviving princess of the empire, as she aims to unite a nation torn apart by strife after her family’s assassination. The core gameplay revolves around squad-based combat where players can organize a team of three heroes with customization skills to fight hordes of enemies in real-time combat. 

“We’re extremely excited to be partnering with Crunchyroll and VIZ Media to get ‘Grand Alliance’ out to the world,” says Andrew Yang, chief executive officer, Gaudium. “The development team has poured their hearts into making this game fun and exciting for anime fans and mobile gamers alike. With Crunchyroll at the helm, we’re sure it will get into the hands of many passionate gamers who will fall in love with the world of ‘Grand Alliance.’”

The game is now available on iOS and Android devices. 

SPCP Knits ‘Outlander’ Book Deal

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Officially licensed with Sony Pictures Consumer Products and inspired by the series from STARZ based on Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling novels, Outlander Knitting allows fans to recreate rustic knits worn on the show and imagined from the love story of Jamie Fraser and Claire Beauchamp Randall.

With 20 projects for apparel, accessories, and home décor that relate to specific episodes, now knitters of all skill levels can recreate their favorite “Outlander” knits. From beginner-friendly chunky knits to more advanced Celtic cables, each project includes a clearly written pattern, gorgeous photography and scenes from the set.

“We are very excited to partner with Clarkson Potte Penguin Random House on Outlander Knitting,” says Jamie Stevens, executive vice president, worldwide consumer products, Sony Pictures Entertainment. “The book happens to be a passion project of mine because it not only rounds up and beautifully displays the unique pieces of knitwear seen on the show, but it also encourages fans to tap into their creativity to make their favorite ‘Outlander’-inspired knits that they can proudly say they created on their own. With projects for beginners to advanced knitters, Outlander Knitting is sure to keep fans entertained when they are watching the show and even when they are not.”

HEAT, FaZe Clan Team for Fashion

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Following in the footsteps of luxury labels including Valentino, Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton, HEAT is venturing into the world of video games, teaming up with esports organization FaZe Clan to offer a mystery drop of exclusive sold-out merchandise alongside HEAT’S most popular labels including Off-White, Casablanca and A-COLD-WALL.

Launching Sept. 25 for £225, the collaboration box guarantees a range of products to the value of at least £300 including exclusive sold-out FaZe Clan pieces from collaborations with ComplexCon, Champion, NFL, Lyrical Lemonade, Kappa, CLOT and LA Kings.

The collaboration has already gained a huge amount of interest across the globe.

Kathy Ireland Small Business Network to Offer Global Wealth Management

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Kathy Ireland Worldwide has announced that its Small Business Network clients will now receive access to UBS Global Wealth Management’s array of services.

Kathy Ireland Small Business Network clients will be working with UBS financial advisors experienced in the needs of small businesses, supported by UBS’s Business Owners segment team. This includes cash management, financial education programs for owners and employees, risk management, business lending and expense control.  
“As a world-leader in wealth management, we felt that UBS’ suite of services enable entrepreneurs at every level, from small family-owned businesses to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, to continue to adapt and innovate in these unusual times,” says Kathy Ireland. “Equally important to us is the tremendous focus UBS has on philanthropy and financial literacy. We are incredibly inspired by UBS and their best-in-class, financial products and services, and it is a privilege that we are able to suggest these services to our clients.”

The Kathy Ireland Small Business Network was formed specifically to help owners of small businesses strategize and implement individual marketing plans, seek growth potential, and give back to colleagues and communities.

Creating a Method to Navigate the Ever-Changing World of Retail

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Retail and licensing are ever-evolving industries. From new consumer tastes to the latest business technologies, even the most successful professionals in the field can have trouble navigating the constantly fluctuating tides. However, the true standouts in the industry are able to spot the trends ahead of everyone else to build new strategies that maximize future movements.

Maxwell Luthy, director, trends and insights, TrendWatching, is one industry observer who has leveraged his company’s unique methodology to help businesses around the world traverse changing consumer tastes. From Disney to Vans, some of the biggest names in retail and licensing have worked with TrendWatching to get ahead of the curve.

Luthy will be discussing TrendWatching’s methodology and key trends on the horizon at this year’s Festival of Licensing. License Global caught up with him to learn more about his upcoming presentation, some of the unexpected trends he sees coming down the pike and what he would do if he could go back in time.

Festival of Licensing is a month-long large-scale digital gathering that unites the global licensing industry to connect, learn, strike deals and do business on an international stage. The event takes place Oct. 6-29. Register for free now!

 

License Global: What are you hoping people will get out of your talk at the Licensing Leadership Summit and Festival of Licensing? 

Luthy: My main goal for every audience is simple: give them a new way of seeing the world! In all seriousness, I will share a powerful approach for making sense of change. It’s a methodology that’s been used by everyone from Mattel, to Vans, to Disney. Everyone from lawyers to long-distance truckers are overwhelmed and threatened by the pace of change today. Yet in the world of licensing and retail, in 2020, as it always has done, a winning strategy comes back to understanding the fundamental human needs of your customers. Those needs are remarkably consistent, and the trends that I will share will each be anchored in a core human need.

What has been the biggest change you’ve seen in the licensing and retail business over the last five years?   

It’s so hard to choose one, but I certainly think the boom of digital as a channel, including the explosion of social commerce, and the success of DTC entrants in so many categories has been really exciting. With lower barriers to entry and so many tools at hand for small players, it has forced large incumbent and established professionals in licensing and retail to reinvent their strategies to keep up. There is so much creativity out there, it’s truly inspiring. 

Another massive change in the last few years has been the tipping point we’ve reached with sustainability. In the ensuing decade, every single attendee at this summit will be impacted by consumers asking themselves: should I really be buying more stuff? What is the true cost of producing this? Is there a less harmful alternative? 

What is the biggest trend or industry disruption that you see on the horizon that not enough people are taking about?

I think the rise of digital as a space for experiences and even digital products is really exciting. Far too many professionals see the worlds of gaming and esports as a new channel or new vertical, as opposed to an entirely new realm for businesses and brands in every category to exist. I will be diving into the Virtual Experience Economy in my session, and the need for “brand avatars.” The level of interactivity and the scale of reach a brand can have with customers is so exciting. Epic’s work to build a metaverse within “Fortnite” and creative partnerships with brands is one of the more powerful examples of it today, but there is so much left to unfold.

How do you see the wellness space evolving over the next few years?

I think one of the big shifts we’ve seen is away from “wellness as a status symbol” and toward wellness truly treating real issues impacting consumers’ quality of life. Essentially, wellness as a form of preventative care. Anxiety, stress and burnout are growing problems impacting an array of demographics, not just Gen Y/Z. So, the rise of CBD in the last 24 months isn’t a flash in the pan fad around a newly regulated ingredient, it’s simply evidence of this epic shift toward treating burnout. Wellness will be heavily directed at relief from the pressures of modern life and 24/7 work.

What do you think the future holds for brick-and-mortar retail?

We believe brick-and-mortar will continue to split into two categories, where stores are either optimized for in-and-out efficiency, or they are crafted for education, congregation, experiences and even self-actualization. There will be some locations that manage to meet both needs under one roof, a strategy Starbucks, Target and others experiment with. But those will be the two objectives, seize time and attention, or save time and attention so that shoppers can spend their most precious resource elsewhere.