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Rainbow Reflections

Rainbow Reflections

Entrepreneurial company a strong example of how to succeed and expand in the marketplace. The timeliness of the Rainbow and Nickelodeon global partnership just announced this month underscores not only the importance of bran

Entrepreneurial company a strong example of how to succeed and expand in the marketplace.

The timeliness of the Rainbow and Nickelodeon global partnership just announced this month underscores not only the importance of brand licensing and entertainme nt in today's marketplace, but it also points out the growth and prominence of the Loreto, Italy-based independent animation studio, which is the exclusive cover story of License! Global's Brand Licensing Europe issue.

The Rainbow-Nickelodeon agreement is arguably one of the biggest deals of the year, along with Saban Brands' acquisition of Power Rangers and Paul Frank and the Iconix Brand Group's acquisition of United Media/Peanuts. The common thread among these brands, which will be showcased at BLE this month in London, is entertainment—coupled with fashion and a strong consumer appeal for merchandise.

In the Rainbow deal, Nickelodeon gets the television rights for widely popular "Winx Club" in the U.S. and pay-TV rights for Latin America, Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Benelux. Nickelodeon gets the existing "Winx Club" series, two films, co-development and co-production of seasons 5 and 6, plus the merchandising rights to Winx Club within the U.S., Latin America, Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Benelux.

This deal unites two of the world's largest licensors: Nickelodeon ranked No. 5 with $5.5 billion in global retail sales of licensed merchandise in 2009, and Rainbow, ranked No. 16 with $3 billion in global retail sales of licensed merchandise, according to the exclusive Top 125 Global Licensors Report published annually by License! Global.

Celebrating its 15th anniversary, Rainbow has grown significantly over the past several years both as a studio and as a global licensor and the company is a great example of how both disciplines have become so much more connected and dependent upon one another for sustainable growth and profitability.

This was Rainbow founder Iginio Straffi's vision when he began—to bring together quality kids' animation and content with consumer products and merchandising throughout the creative process. Straffi believes that licensing should not be an afterthought and developed only after a series has matured and proven strong in viewership.

Winx Club is the perfect example, as the property has become one of the most popular series for girls ages 4 to 12 and a brand licensing juggernaut with more than 700 licensees. Rainbow is also further developing other girls' brands, including PopPixie, a spin-off from Winx Club, and Maya Fox, a tween fashion property, as well as Huntik, the popular boys' action property that was the winner of the 2008 Licensing Challenge held at MipJunior.

Rainbow is also exemplary of other key industry trends in brand licensing, establishing a strong position in new categories, brand extensions and emerging markets.

  • Gaming. Rainbow has made a major commitment to gaming since establishing a headquarters in Singapore in 2008. This month, the Winx Club multiplayer online game debuts and a new deal was announced with Namco Bandai Partners to distribute the Winx Club: Rockstars video game. It will be distributed by Nintendo DS in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in November and will be bundled with an exclusive DS case or a Winx Club watch at selected European retailers.
  • Theme park and live entertainment. Rainbow has developed live shows based on Winx Club in several countries and its first theme park is under development in Rome, scheduled to open in spring 2011.
  • Emerging markets. Rainbow has been highly successful penetrating Russia with Winx Club, where it has become the most popular kids' series.

Rainbow is an example of how a smaller, entrepreneurial-driven, privately held company can, in fact, grow and prosper among the world's mega-studios and licensors, as well as partner with them.

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