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Articles from 2020 In August


Sesame Workshop, Phoenix International Publications Unveil Grover Voice Book

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Phoenix International Publications and Sesame Workshop are celebrating a new sound edition of “A Monster at the End of This Sound Book.”

The new edition features “Sesame Street’s” Grover reading every page aloud and begging the reader not to turn for more. Fans can order the audio book here.

“We couldn't be more excited to publish our new edition of this iconic title, beloved by generations of children,” says Sophie Partridge, publisher, Phoenix International. “Being able to hear it read in Grover's voice brings a whole new dimension of silly monster fun to this wonderful story.”

Adidas, Prada Unleash Newest Collaboration

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Prada and Adidas have teamed to unveil a reimagining of the Superstar sneakers.

The deal provides a reiteration of the first expression of the partnership between the luxury-goods house and the sportswear expert. The Superstar style is offered in a trio of new colorways: monochrome black, white with black, and chrome silver with white.

The new Prada Superstar will launch starting on Sept. 8, via Prada boutiques and Adidas flagship stores worldwide, alongside selected wholesalers. The range is also available on prada.com and adidas.com.

The partnership of Prada and Adidas is continuing to develop. Adidas says that the next facet of this collaboration is linked to the America’s Cup.

TikTok, Teespring Team for E-Commerce

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Teespring has joined forces with TikTok to create an integrated commerce feature which allows creators to sell their merchandise on the social media platform for the very first time.  

The new feature will provide a seamless point of sale for TikTok users, allowing creators to sell their own merchandise to their communities and opening these influencers to the world of commerce. Creators on the app will be able to create designs from a choice of 180 different products as well as the opportunity to create bespoke products which are completely unique to them.

Teespring’s 360-degree capabilities provide opportunities for creators to transform their personal brand, taking something known and loved by their fans and followers and creating some truly diverse products which bring them that step closer to the people who follow them. 

“Our latest partnership with TikTok marks a collective commitment to serving the creator community, which we value hugely,” says Chris Lamontagne, chief executive officer, Teespring. “Our company ethoses aligned in creating a feature for the massive amount of US based creators on both platforms.”

Tiltng Point, Wizits Bring NASCAR to ‘Win Vegas’

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Tilting Point and Wizits have announced that NASCAR is racing to their popular Las Vegas casino slots mobile game, “Win Vegas.”

The limited-time event features four themed stages across a 12-week period with racing-themed challenges. The first themed stage, available now through Sept. 16, will feature the Daytona International Speedway. This stage is aligned with the Coke Zero Sugar 400 race on Aug. 29.

“’Win Vegas’ is a fun and fast-paced game, and the NASCAR integration adds a new layer of competition that fits perfectly with the league’s live racing calendar,” says Samir El-Agili, president. Tilting Point. “We think players will really enjoy the speed and intensity that NASCAR brings to ‘Win Vegas,’ as well as all the new themed features that really transform our three-reel slots casino experience.”

Following the first event, players will be able to take their winnings to the next level during the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (Sept. 17 - Oct. 7), Championship (Oct.8 - Oct. 28) and Champion stages (Oct. 29 - Nov. 8). While the Championship Race in Phoenix will culminate on Nov. 8, players can continue to enjoy NASCAR content for an additional two weeks until Nov. 19.

“We are excited to offer ‘Win Vegas’ players the speed and intensity of NASCAR-style competition, packaged in a mobile slots game,” says Paul Sparrow, managing director, licensing and consumer products, NASCAR. “Fans can compete in their own action-packed racing-themed challenges throughout NASCAR’s real-world Playoffs.”

In “Win Vegas,” players can spin the reels of the best selection of classic slot machines right from the casino floors in the heart of Downtown Las Vegas. The limited-time NASCAR event blends the iconic racing brand with the lights, sounds and action of Vegas. It ushers in new NASCAR gameplay components, including a car race cash race, an upgrade shop and a branded slots game.

Baby Yoda from ‘The Mandalorian’ Becomes a Squishmallow

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Squishmallows have added the beloved “Mandalorian” character The Child – known by the internet as Baby Yoda – to its lineup.

According to an exclusive report from Toy Book, Jazwares subsidiary Kellytoy has entered into a new licensing deal with The Walt Disney Company and Lucasfilm to bring The Child into its collection of plush characters. The Baby Yoda Squishmallow will be available exclusively at Walgreens stores in the U.S. The 10-inch plush is available for preorder now, with an in-store drop beginning Sept. 24.

“One of our biggest challenges is transforming 3D characters into 2D artwork for our design process,” Jeanne Yoon, senior vice president, product development and sales, Kellytoy told Walgreens. “Squishmallows have a smooth and soft surface, so we cannot add certain characteristics like wrinkles and glossy eyes. It took a number of steps to get the Child’s features – such as big eyes and embroidered wrinkles – just right. We wanted to balance the Child’s appearance from ‘The Mandalorian’ series while keeping the look and feel of our cute and cuddly Squishmallows.”

The latest Squishmallow joins other licensed products from “The Mandalorian” including a Build-A-Bear inspired by the character of The Child.

DC Unmasks Plans for ‘Batman Day’

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DC has unveiled plans for the global celebration of Batman Day on Sept. 19.

The celebration invites fans from around the world to participate in a wide variety of Batman-themed activities that honor the DC Superhero. This year, there will be new partnerships, free digital comics, free activity kits for kids, a 5KM/10KM virtual Batman run or walk and a digital mystery to solve.

Fans will also be able to protect Gotham City through a series of digital activities, participate in celebrations on social media and help Batman put together a series of clues left by the Riddler. By deciphering these hints, fans can unlock exclusives available for a limited time.

The new Waze Batman theme will allow more Waze users to travel alongside Batman and the Riddler from August 31 to October 31. Waze drivers can choose to hear Batman-style directions, voiced by “Batman: The Animated Series” actor Kevin Conroy, as well as select a custom Batmobile icon. Drivers who want a more villain experience will be able to select the Riddler's voice prompts (voiced by actor Wally Wingert), complete with a customized vehicle. Waze users around the world will be able to hear the Batman Theme in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Multiple branded products will be released to celebrate the day, including DVD box sets, Uniqlo t-shirts and sweatshirts, digital comics, new programming, competitions and more.

Warner Bros. Consumer Products and DC are joining forces with an extensive list of retail partners, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, iTunes, Walmart, GameStop and Google Play, among others, who will have special promotions about Batman. Global partners such as LEGO, Spin Master and Funko will be selling exclusive Batman products to celebrate the big day of DC Superheroes.

ZAG Announces Multiple ‘Miraculous’ Deals

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ZAG has announced new licensing partner deals and renewals across key categories for “Miraculous - Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir.” 

Categories include publishing, apparel, food and home décor. Zag has announced new major partners around the globe in each category.

“’Miraculous’ continues to be one of the most beloved brands around the globe and bringing aboard so many new best-in-class partners, as well as continuing our long-standing relationships is a testament to the tremendous popularity of the brand,” says Julian Zag, executive vice president global operations, ZAG Entertainment.  “We are currently in production on seasons four and five of the series with two new TV movie specials set to debut on Disney Channel and Disney+ at the end of this year and early next ahead of our [$70 million] theatrical move release.  We’ve sold over 150 million products at retail over the past three years, and ‘Miraculous’ is the number one direct-to-retail license for Spirit Halloween for kids and adults. Winning 15 prestigious awards, and with over 100 million downloads of the official app, the future continues to look absolutely ‘Miraculous!’”  

New North American licensing partners include Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, a division of the Hachette Book Group, and InSpirit Designs, a division of lifestyle retailer Spencer Spirit Holdings that owns and operates Spencer’s and Spirit Halloween.  

The multi-year deal with LBYR includes picture books, leveled readers, storybooks, chapter books, middle grade novels, guidebooks and sticker books. InSpirit Designs will create costumes and accessories for wholesale retailers. 

Other new licensees for North America include Jay Franco for bedding and home décor; Handcraft Manufacturing for underwear; and Customized Personal Solutions, operator of e-commerce shop TV's Toy Box for print on demand merchandise for kids. 

Products will begin rolling out in fall 2020 through 2021.

In Europe, multi-territory licensees Panini and Ferrero continue their relationship with ZAG.  Panini has renewed its multiyear, multi-product deal that includes their signature sticker album program, monthly magazine program, plus traditional books in Germany. For  Ferrero, “Miraculous” Kinder Surprise Eggs and other seasonal product have now been launched in more than 50 countries.

In France, ZAG continues its relationship with McDonald’s – a May and June promotion featured “Miraculous” themed arts and crafts kits with collectible cards; a new license has been signed with La Plume Dorée for a range of back to school products; Turbulences launched a new “Miraculous” lifestyle magazine in June; and Prodhex will launch first aid kits for new adventurers. Elsewhere in Europe, new publishing agreements have been signed for a variety of products, including Eksik Parca Yayincilik Ticaret (Missing Piece Publishing) in Turkey, Ranok Publishing Limited in Ukraine and Kennedy Publishing in the U.K.

In Latin America, newly appointed The Novelty Book Company becomes ZAG’s pan-regional publishing partner, with book programs going into Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile and Peru. 

Also recently renewed is an agreement with Australia’s Five Mile Press who will continue to publish chapter books, novelizations, guidebooks and book gift sets, together with additional new categories.

The new consumer products’ deals for “Miraculous” coincide with the retail roll-out of the new toy line from ZAG Lab, ZAG’s toy division, and Playmates Toys.  The first product line from the two companies – since announcing their long-term global alliance earlier this year – is set to debut this fall across key European territories including U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Benelux, as well as Mexico, and throughout the rest of the world in 2021.

Kraft Heinz, ZURU Serves Up Miniatures Line

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Kraft Heinz and ZURU have teamed up to create miniature toys of popular food brands.

The food and beverage company has teamed up with toy company on the 5 Surprise Mini Brands collectible craze. As part of the deal, nearly six dozen of Kraft Heinz's branded consumer products will be miniaturized.

"Demand for 5 Surprise Mini Brands has been unwavering since the brand's introduction last year, and we are confident the addition of Kraft Heinz to the portfolio only bolsters its appeal," says Aneisha Vieira, global brand director, ZURU. "Shoppers love that these brands and products are true to life; and that the exact miniature detail brings a quirky spin."

Kraft Heinz favorites brands, including Velveeta, Miracle Whip and Jet-Puffed Marshmallows, will be among the 120-plus new brands found in 5 Surprise Mini Brands Series 2. The new items are expected to arrive on shelves later in September.

Featuring new gold packaging, Series 2 includes more than ten super-rare brands in golden, glow-in-the-dark and shimmering rare minis. Each capsule of Series 2 contains four surprise mini-brands like Country Time Lemonade, Oscar Mayer, Grey Poupon and more, as well as one surprise mini-shopping accessory such as a mini shopping trolley, mini shelf or mini shopping basket.

5 Surprise Mini Brands Mini Mart landed on shelves earlier this summer, offering fans and collectors a one-stop-shop to store, collect and display their growing collection. Complete with shelves, a freezer section, shopping cart and cashier stand, plus four mystery minis, the Mini Mart playset also makes real shopping sound.

"Miniatures, collectibles and surprises... ZURU has captured the magic ingredients and a proven track record when it comes feeding the frenzy for these mini shopping brands," says Chris Urban, vice president, marketing, Kraft Heinz. "We couldn't be more excited to see favorite, iconic Kraft Heinz products join the 5 Surprise Mini Brands craze."

Kraft Heinz joins other companies such as Perfetti Van Melle who have recently received the miniature treatment.

Moose Toys Snags Warner Bros. CP Deal

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Toy company Moose Toys has teamed up with Warner Bros. Consumer Products to create a range of toys that will support two upcoming films in the Looney Tunes franchise.

The two theatrical releases Moose will elevate include “Space Jam: A New Legacy” and “Tom & Jerry.” The first is a reimagining of the original 1996 film and stars NBA superstar LeBron James alongside Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and other Looney Tunes characters. The latter is a live-action animated comedy inspired by the classic cartoon duo. 

As part of its agreement, Moose will create a range of toys including figures, collectibles, plush characters and more. Additional details about the various lines will be shared closer to launch. Product is expected to hit shelves slightly ahead of the movie release dates. Both films are slated for release in 2021, with “Tom & Jerry” slated for March 5 and “Space Jam: A New Legacy” expected July 16.  

“We couldn’t be prouder to collaborate with Warner Bros., a recognized leader in entertainment around the globe,” says Paul Solomon, co-owner, Moose Toys. “With this partnership we are pushing innovation and design boundaries to create toys that are truly remarkable and worthy of the films and characters themselves.”     

The Warner Bros. deal joins a list of recent licensing wins for Moose Toys including the master toy license of Australian animated series, “Bluey” and the activity line with leading YouTube creators Collins Key.

Spotify, Riot Games Press Play for ‘League of Legends’

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Spotify has officially teamed up with Riot Games for its first-ever esports partnership centered around “League of Legends.”

The deal sees Spotify and Riot Games, the developer behind “League of Legends,” join forces for a first-of-its-kind multiyear agreement. The partnership will give fans original podcasts, curated playlists, and more. Following the deal, Spotify is now the official and exclusive audio -streaming partner for “League of Legends” global events. 

“Our partnership with Riot Games will create a first-of-its-kind audio universe for the millions of Spotify and ‘League of Legends’ fans across the globe,” says June Sauvaget, global head, consumer and product marketing, Spotify. “As the exclusive— and first ever —global audio service partner for ‘League of Legends,’ we plan to create a world-class audio-streaming experience for our users, making discovering both music and podcasts easier than ever before.” 

The two companies are creating an audio hub for new and existing music, podcasts and playlists inspired by the gaming community, including “Official League of Legends” and “Road to Worlds 2020” playlists.

Spotify and Riot Games will also see the two companies create and launch several new “League of Legends” podcasts. “Untold Stories: Top Moments from Worlds” is a nine-episode series that will lead up to the 10th “League of Legends” World Championship this fall. Listeners will be able to hear about the top players and anthems through game highlights, recorded interviews, game sound effects and new interviews with key players.

The series will be joined by plans to provide fans with a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the Worlds Anthem through the Worlds Anthem Takeover on Spotify. The song is released alongside a bespoke music video and will then be performed during the opening ceremony of the World Championship Finals, setting the tone and celebrating the big event. In previous years, Riot Games has worked with artists including Imagine DragonsThe Glitch Mob, and Against the Current for the track.

“Music and audio are an intrinsic part of our sport and game, so we are thrilled to partner with Spotify to provide our fans with another platform where they can enjoy the ultimate manifestation of ‘League of Legends,’” says Naz Aletaha, global esports partnership head, Riot Games. “As a disrupter in their space similar to Riot Games, Spotify allows us to collectively challenge the limits of possibility as we blend sports, technology, entertainment and music to create iconic experiences and content that inspire generations.”

Multiplayer online battle arena game “League of Legends” is one of the most popular esports titles globally. The official League of Legends soundtrack racks up more than 4.8 million Spotify listeners per month. The game has previously been leveraged for partnerships with brands such as Louis Vuitton.