Valero Enterprises to Rep Paul Frank in NA

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Valero Enterprises has been named the agency of record for Paul Frank, North America. 
Valero was instrumental in the initial licensing efforts in 2010 and grew the brand into a 100 million entity with its character Julius the Monkey. Following the new agreement, the  Valero Enterprises is relaunching the graphic designer’s licensing program.

“This time around we are excited about collaborations with premier brands,” says Susan Valero, owner, Valero Enterprises. “Also, we are taking into account the change in the retail landscape with on-line so prevalent and off price now being considered mainstream. Just selling products at a discount doesn’t cut it anymore. We need to be innovative in how we reach our audience while creating more compelling products.”

Valero is looking to create a fully immersive lifestyle brand across both category and retail tier. The relaunch will take the imagery of the Paul Frank brand and introduce it in a new way for Gen Z and Gen Alpha. It will also reimagine warm memories for the millennials who grew up with the brand.  

“With e-commerce being such a strong retail force, we see consumers shopping across traditional pricing,” says Valero. “They seem to want everything from fast fashion to high end limited editions and designer co-brands. We see Paul Frank as one of those rare brands that can live in all of those areas.”

MGA Entertainment Taps Art Nation Agency for Ukraine Representation

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MGA Entertainment has named Art Nation Agency as the authorized licensing agent of international brands for MGA Entertainment in the Ukraine.

Art Nation Agency will develop licensing programs, oversee marketing, promotions and collaborations with MGAE brands in the local market.

“MGAE’s collectibles, toys, lifestyle and licensed products are loved by kids across the globe, and we are thoroughly energized by the interest and the potential for expansion in Ukraine across all of our brands,” says Sandrine De Raspide, general manager, global licensing and international sales, MGA Entertainment. “We are very excited to have Art Nation Agency on board as it will greatly contribute to our global licensing program and the brands’ phenomenal success.”

Art Nation Agency plans to collaborate with manufacturers of kids’ products in the following licensing categories:

  • Food products;
  • Drinks;
  • Care and hygiene;
  • Cosmetics;
  • Active leisure goods; and
  • Clothes and shoes.

New opportunities are also being offered for the brand in = the fast-moving consumer goods market.

"It is highly important that MGA Entertainment defined Ukraine as a separate market and chose local representatives but not international agencies,” says Albert Sargsian, licensing head, Art Nation Agency. “I am grateful for trust and very pleased that it is Art Nation Agency which was chosen an official agent of international MGAE brands. New opportunities are being opened for us. At the same time, high responsibility for the brands at a local level appears. We will do our best to exceed MGAE's expectations. Currently we are choosing reliable and prospective partners in different categories. We are negotiating with FMCG-leaders. Despite the crisis, we see a significant demand for collaboration with L.O.L. Surprise!, as it enables companies [to] quickly reanimate sales."

NHRA, Precision Metal Art Speed into Home Décor Deal

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The National Hot Rod Association has partnered with Precision Metal Art, a home décor brand specializing in metal art designs, for a full line of NHRA-themed metal art.

The licensing partnership was secured by JRL Group, NHRA’s licensing agency. It taps into the history, heritage of the brand as well as speed and motor culture. Each metal art piece is crafted from eighteen-gauge American steel and cut on precise laser technology, printed with high-quality, UV and water-resistant ink and uses high quality powder coat finishes to lend to the piece’s longevity and durability. 

The collection is available now online at precisionmetalartusa.com/collections/nhra

Naomi Osaka, ADEAM Score Fashion Collab

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Tennis player and activist Naomi Osaka has officially teamed with ADEAM on a fashion collection.

Osaka reports that the collection is inspired by her love of fashion which she developed at an early age.

"I have always loved fashion, even when I was younger, and my sister Mari and I would look through fashion magazines on the way to tennis tournaments," Osaka told InStyle. "I think fashion is a great way to reflect your mood and to also be playful and take chances. On and off the court, I like what I wear to reflect how I am feeling at that moment."

Her ADEAM collaboration hit the runway earlier this year, but the collection is finally available for fans to shop. The collection is available now at ADEAM's website.

"When I first heard that Naomi is a fan of ADEAM, I was so thrilled and honored," Hanako Maeda, chief executive officer and creative director, ADEAM, told InStyle. "I've been a huge fan of Naomi — she is such a powerful female role model, both on and off court. Once we met in person, we immediately clicked, and the creative process came naturally. We shared similar reference points — our love for Japanese fashion and a strong feminine aesthetic. It's been such a dream to work with Naomi, and I hope that we can collaborate again in the future on something fun!"

Revolution Beauty Drops ‘Friends’ Collection

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More than 25 years after the sitcom first debuted on NBC, “Friends” has made its way to the makeup aisle thanks to Revolution Beauty.

The collection includes four eyeshadow palettes, three bullet lipsticks, six lip glosses, a mirror, a pack of three hair scrunchies and two makeup bags. Each of the items in the collection centers around a character or theme of the show.

Three of the four eyeshadow palettes are inspired by one of the leading ladies of the series, Phoebe, Monica and Rachel. Shade names in the palettes including “Smelly Cat,” “On a Break” and “Geller Cup” pay tribute to each of them, with all of the bullet lipsticks dedicated to them as well. The six lip glosses have three dedicated to these characters, as well as three dedicated to the men of the series, Ross, Chandler and Joey. The largest eyeshadow palette, called the Limitless palette, includes 27 shades named after multiple characters from the show, including obscure ones like “Ugly Naked Guy.”

The “Friends” x Revolution collection is available now online and at Ulta. This is the second “Friends” beauty collection released in recent months. Mad Beauty also partnered with the show for a collection in August.

How Cyber Group Studios Brought 'Gigantosaurus' to An International Audience

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A great animated IP can transcend languages and countries. One great example of this transcendent properties is Cyber Group Studios animated series “Gigantosaurus". The hit series continues to strengthen its presence worldwide in licensing, supported by a substantial plan that includes 30-plus key deals, including Jakks toys, Templar books and other categories of products like apparel, party goods, DYI, bedding, will be on the shelves globally in 2021. 

License Global recently spoke with Pierre Sissmann, president and chief executive officer, Cyber Group Studios, to better understand what makes the company and IP such as “Gigantosaurus,” a hit. Sissmann highlighted how Cyber Group Studios has been able to keep up with growing demand for animated content and discussed how kids’ fascination with dinosaurs propelled “Gigantosaurus” success. 

Our discussion with Sissmann comes ahead of the Festival of Licensing where Cyber Group Studios will be exhibiting its portfolio of properties. To learn more about the company and visit their virtual booth at the event, be sure to register for the Festival of Licensing today and read our full interview with Sissmann below. 

License Global: How did Cyber Group Studios arrive on the scene and what made it such a huge success?

Sissmann: The company was created in 2005 by a team of ex-top executives from The Walt Disney Company. [The executives] first objectives were to build a successful roster of preschool animation with the latest CG technology, hire great collaborators and control distribution while setting up a licensing department and focusing on development and clients’ needs worldwide.

How have you evolved to keep up with the high demands of animation? (i.e. real-time animation)

The company has always tried to stay at the forefront of trends, whether it is new ways of writing or producing music and images. This is why we are currently building one of the largest European real-time animation studios, to further to take on productions in terms of storytelling and image rendering.

Let’s talk about “Gigantosaurus,” why is this such a success in licensing and where are you hoping to take it in the future?

Kids have always been fascinated by dinosaurs. The issue was to create – with the original author Jonny Duddle – an environment with a bunch of friendly dinosaurs having fun and exciting adventures so that small kids could relate to the characters and not be frightened by them. We also innovated with technology in pushing the integration of 2D and CGI images to create a lush environment where the stories would take place. We [also] made sure that while focusing on the storytelling, we would create toy-relatable items and develop merchandise such as action figures, vehicles, plush, puzzle and games without forgetting a slate of publishing, video games and music-related products.

The series airing its first season with great success on Disney Junior worldwide, it has been commissioned by The Walt Disney Company and France Télévisions for seasons two and three, and by Super RTL in Germany for season two.

Products inspired from the series have already been successfully launched in the U.S., Latin America, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, U.K. and will soon be available in Italy and in many other territories. To be able to bring these products to the market, we have worked with key partners such as our master toy [licensor] Jakks Pacific, Templar for books, Clementoni and Ravensburger for puzzles in EMEA, Dino Bikes for bicycles, Panini for magazines in Germany, Play Press for activities books for kiosks, Witor's for easter eggs, DP/Aykroyds for nightwear and underwear, Roy Lowe & Sons for socks, Erve for kidswear, Character World and Herding for home textile,  and PMS for gift products in the amusement sector. But these licensing deals are only part of the property’s big-picture plans. 

In March, the studio also introduced “Gigantosaurus: The Game,” in partnership with Outright Games and Bandai Namco Ent. Europe. We are also producing high-quality digital shorts including the two first seasons of shorts: "Know your Dinos" and "Dino News.”

Another huge development is the launch of a new real-time spinoff titled “The Giganto Club,” a new 40 x 11′ show, which is hosted by new dinosaur characters and features guests, news, geographical segments, etc.

Cyber Group Studios is also planning a live, worldwide musical tour for 2022 and is in the process of completing the first album (with 12 music videos) to be released in the summer via Disney. We are also working on a big-screen musical “Gigantosaurus” project for late 2022 /early 2023. Michael J. Wilson, the creator of the Ice Age franchise, is working on the script with me and our Olivier Lelardoux, long-time senior executive, Cyber Group, will be directing the movie. 

You’re exhibiting at Festival of Licensing, what are you looking to achieve and what partners would you love to work with?

We are looking for world class partners who will help us continue to build the brand in the years to come on all continents as we are now producing seasons two and three, and simultaneously preparing a feature film which will drive the property at least to 2025. On top of joining our existing team of current best in class licensees [which] already is close to 60 around the world in all regions.

What makes kids fall in love with “Gigantosaurus?” How will new seasons develop the brand?

As I said before, it is mostly the fact that instead of being scared by dinosaurs, kids can relate to the characters who are small dinos and who live extraordinary adventures while they are discovering their new environment away from home. The songs and the comedy in the show are a big asset to the series and finally “Gigantosuarus” himself is a great guy and that was a tough thing to achieve for such a giant dino. It is a fun series, centered on values with endless backgrounds and new characters all the time. This makes it very entertaining as none of the stories are the same and the kids keep watching them again and again.

Tell us about licensing in France, are there any subtle differences from the region to either Germany, U.K. or the U.S.?

There are subtle differences as you imply but less than between continents as Asia, LatAm, North America and Europe. This is why it is important when you develop a global licensing program to address those differences, sometimes in terms of pattern, color, type of products, formats. Only an experienced team can succeed as it takes a long time to master all these differences and this is why it is important to work with great licensing executives all round the world who know both their own culture and the retail environment as well as the consumers trends.

DC Universe Transforms into DC Universe Infinite

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DC has announced the evolution of DC Universe into DC Universe Infinitea premium digital comic book service set to launch on Jan. 21.

The premium digital comic book platform provides members with an expanded collection of comics and original graphic novels, spanning more than 80 years of the DC Multiverse. Fans can also download comics, graphic novels and originals for unlimited offline reading on their smartphone or tablet.

“Our fans love the platform’s robust library of comic books and, with the transformation, we will not disappoint,” says Jim Lee, publisher and chief creative officer, DC Comics. “I’m excited to share that not only will DC Universe Infinite members still be able to read all of the great comics that they’ve enjoyed but new issues are debuting on the platform quicker than before, digital first exclusives are being created and the members-only events will begin as soon as possible. There has never been a better time to be a DC fan!”

With access to more than 24,000 comic books at launch, DC Universe Infinite subscribers will also encounter digital-first comics, exclusive access to DC fan events, as well as a steady stream of recently released comics six months after the physical versions hit store shelves.

Subscribers will have earlier access to new digital first comics that include titles such as Aquaman: Deep Dives, Batman: Gotham Nights, DCeased: Hope at World’s End, Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red, Injustice: Year Zero, Shazam!: Lightning Strikes, Superman: Man of Tomorrow, Swamp Thing: New Roots and Wonder Woman 84. Also debuting on DC Universe Infinite will be DC Universe Infinite Originals, including new comic content centered around well-known characters.

Following its initial launch, DC Universe Infinite will begin expanding globally in summer 2021. A fan-favorite community area will be free to all registered and premium subscribers with a full calendar of events planned for 2021. Current DC Universe subscribers will not need to create a new account as their DC Universe login will transfer to DC Universe Infinite.

Levi’s, Hello Kitty Slip into Second Collaboration

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In honor of Sanrio’s 60th anniversary, the character company has teamed with Levi’s to create a fashion collection inspired by Hello Kitty.

The newest collaboration between the two includes laser-etched jeans, reusable and reversible face masks and customizable t-shirts, hoodies and tote bags. Previously, the two collaborated in 2019 for a collection of streetwear-inspired pieces like denim trucker jackets and overalls with Hello Kitty’s image. The Levi’s x Hello Kitty collection launched on Sept. 16 on the Levi’s website and app.

Sanrio has teamed with multiple brands in recent months to celebrate the company’s 60th anniversary. Igloo launched a limited-edition Hello Kitty cooler in June and the company created multiple activations to honor the 45th anniversary of their My Melody character.

Fashion in Lockdown: Dress to Decompress

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The year’s most highly anticipated sneaker collab was arguably the Air Jordan 1 OG Dior, a pricey, coveted limited-edition sneaker released this summer as part of a megawatt partnership between Nike and Dior. Luxury and scarcity are clearly still very sexy and enticing to the well-to-do fashion-inclined consumer, but amid the COVID-19 economic decline, the vast majority of consumers who have considerably less discretionary income this year are pinching pennies where they can.

All dressed up with nowhere to go – except a Zoom virtual meeting – most consumers in 2020 are leaning comfortably (see what I did there?) into casualwear, loungewear, athleisure and good old-fashioned PJs. With recent closures of men’s fine clothing retailer Brooks Brothers and bankruptcies of high-end powerhouse department stores like Neiman Marcus, the quarantined jury has spoken – and it wants to be cozy.

For those in the apparel and footwear category who have recognized this continued collective preference to dress for comfort, opportunity abounds. According to Licensing International’s Sixth Annual Global Licensing Survey, in 2019, the apparel vertical accounted for 15.1 percent of the $292.8 billion in global sales revenue of licensed merchandise and services.

Fashion accessories, specifically, accounted for 11.9 percent of the market share. Both apparel and accessories showed significant growth in 2019, up 5.1 percent and 8.0 percent year-over-year, respectively.

Despite impressive 2019 gains via licensing, the apparel industry was one of the hardest hit general merchandise categories in the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to The NPD Group, the industry suffered year-over-year losses nearing 45 percent in the three months ending in May.

A saving grace for the apparel industry in 2020, however, was e-commerce, as shoppers were either unable or apprehensive to shop for apparel in person.

“In early June, U.S. consumers told The NPD Group that more than half of their planned apparel purchases for the next two weeks would be made online, according to insights from the new Future of Apparel report,” reports The NPD Group. “This is supported by NPD’s Checkout receipt harvesting research, which showed online purchase activity across key softlines channels holding steady at 50 percent above pre-COVID-19 levels in the first half of June, even as store activity increased.”

READ THE FULL ARTICLE IN THE LATEST ISSUE OF LICENSE GLOBAL MAGAZINE!

Iceland Brings TGI Fridays Frozen Food to the U.K.

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In a licensing arrangement brokered by Beanstalk, TGI Fridays is moving into the aisles of the U.K.’s leading frozen food retailer, Iceland, with a range of frozen appetizers and desserts.

The range includes some of TGI Fridays best-selling restaurant items. The frozen appetizers line includes jalapeño cheese bites, boneless hot wings, cajun prawns, mozzarella sticks, cajun spiced onion rings, loaded bacon and cheese skins, warrior fries with cacon, chili beef fries, Fridays wings and Fridays BBQ ribs. Signature TGI Fridays desserts will also be available including the New York Cheesecake and Brownie Obsession.

The new range complements the existing TGI Fridays licensed program which consists of meats and cocktail kits.

“We are thrilled to further extend the range of delicious and much-loved Friday’s menu items for consumers across the U.K. to enjoy at home,” says Louise French, senior vice president, business development and operations, Beanstalk. “The new frozen delights from TGI Fridays are a great way to bring the famous American grill into your home and celebrate that Fridays feeling.”

The frozen foods are available now.

Beanstalk 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!