Kaufman Says Licensing 'Best Industry in the World'

Brand Licensing Europe kicked off with the first official keynote session at The Licensing Academy with Pam Kaufman, president, Viacom/Nickelodeon Consumer Products.  During the fireside chat with Amanda Cioletti, content director, License Global, Kaufman shared insights into the changing retail landscape and discussed how the newly-formed, globally-aligned Viacom/Nickelodeon Consumer Products positions the organization for success and how consumer products fits into Viacom’s broader strategy. Kaufman said that she was having “the best time ever” in her new role and is positive about the collaboration between Viacom and Nickelodeon. Now that one team is handling the portfolio across the company, she is looking for licensing opportunities within the new and classic library at VNCP and Paramount Pictures for films such as Top Gun, Clueless and more. She is also meeting with teams and assessing markets, with a focus on Asia, Brazil and Mexico.

With a raft of programming for kids and families, Kaufman is looking to Viacom’s properties like “South Park” and “Jersey Shore” to expand licensing opportunities. “Soul Train,” a VNCP property, is approaching its 50th anniversary, and Kaufman is seeking partners to work with for the classic dance show.   “Paw Patrol,” another VNCP property, has become a favorite show with kids and adults alike, which caught Kaufman by surprise.

“Every time I go somewhere, watch something or read a Kardashian post [on social media], there’s always something about ‘Paw Patrol,’” says Kaufman.  Plans for “Paw Patrol” include a direct-to-video program for “Mighty Pups” at Walmart in the U.S.  When speaking about the classic property “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” which received an image overhaul for the “Rise of the Turtles” animated series on Nickelodeon, Kaufman found that keeping a 30-year-old property like “TMNT” relevant was a relatively easy challenge.  “It really is in the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’' DNA to change it up,” says Kaufman.

One of the new strategies was to premiere “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” across all digital channels, including YouTube. The premiere show received 8.5M global views.  Kaufman also shared how working with an influencer like JoJo Siwa helped VNCP get into an overlooked market. 

“We saw a retail opportunity for 9-to 14-year-olds,” says Kaufman. “It was an opportunity for the company to go to retail and amplify a space that is underserved.”  Next year, Siwa is celebrating her 16th birthday by releasing new music and a new animated series, “The JoJo Bow Bow Show Show” featuring her dog Bow Bow, who is breaking out as a pet influencer. Kaufman showed nothing but enthusiasm for the future of the licensing industry.  

“We’re in the best industry right now in the world,” says Kaufman. “The retail landscape changes, but people are never going to stop shopping. We’re looking for a lot of ways to connect to the consumer. And there’s more content being consumed than ever before."

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