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Special Report: The Future of Hasbro

By Gary Symons TLL Editor in Chief The ‘Play and Entertainment’ conglomerate Hasbro has for the first time outlined its future plans in a live investor event, and as expected, the news will be game changing for the company and for its licensing partners worldwide. Sit down and grab yourself a coffee or tea, because it’s a LOT. At the core of the announcement, Hasbro has outlined its “strategic growth drivers” for the near and medium term, and has unveiled new product segments aligned to these drivers. In other words, the company is restructuring, and it’s doing so in ways that it feels will better prepare Hasbro for a rapidly changing environment. The new financial reporting segments are: Consumer Products, including toys and games; Wizards of the Coast (Wizards) and… . . . read more

Licensing Letter Editor To Deliver Keynote at Octane5 Event

Octane5, the company behind the BrandComply Licensing Enterprise Platform, has announced its 2021 International Open House March 4, 2021, featuring The Licensing Letter Editor in Chief Gary Symons as the keynote speaker. Symons, who also presented Rise of the Virtual Influencer at the SPLiCE Conference last month (Society of Product Licensors Committed to Excellence), will present a keynote entitled The Cave Dweller Economy, showing how the COVID-19 pandemic created or accelerated radical new trends in the licensing and retail industries. “As one prime example,” joked Symons, “we’ll all be attending the conference virtually from our various digital caves around the world.” Participants can register at The event will consist of multiple events designed to inform and engage the licensing industry.  “We’re proud to be able to connect our industry during… . . . read more

Twin Studies Predict Strong Recovery For Licensing and Retail

By Gary Symons TLL Editor in Chief Two key reports released over the past two weeks illustrate the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the licensing and retail industries … but they also paint an encouraging picture for the economic recovery of both sectors as vaccination programs roll out in America and around the world.  License Global released its report—COVID-19: What Happens Next—on the impact of COVID-19 on the licensing industry, with survey respondents showing the industry as a whole suffered declining revenues and layoffs. The good news, says the License Global report, “Industry professionals on average expect business to stabilize and return to broadly pre-COVID-19 levels by December 2021. Most notably, 45 percent of respondents anticipate a rise in annual revenue, while 28 percent anticipate an increase in headcount and… . . . read more

Hasbro Not Toying Around With Gina Carano

By Gary Symons TLL Editor in Chief Talk about a rough week at the office. Toy giant Hasbro says it will no longer produce any toys featuring former Mandalorian star Gina Carano, who plays the part of the popular character Cara Dune. Carano was fired from her role in the hit Disney+ series after posting a series of controversial social media messages, she was dropped by her agents at United Talent Agency, and now licensed toy merchandise is also being discontinued. “The Star Wars Black Cara Dune figure was released in 2020 and sold out not long after the inventory was received,” a spokeswoman for BigBadToyStore told The Hollywood Reporter in a Monday email. “Hasbro planned for another production run and we were accepting preorders from that production run. Due to recent events,… . . . read more

Special Report: How Celebrities Are Driving the Booze Business

By Gary Symons TLL Editor in Chief Acquisitions in the liquor business aren’t generally noticed by the general public, but the buyout of Davos Brands by industry giant Diageo rated a feature story in People Magazine, and pretty much every other entertainment magazine in the world. The reason is that Davos is partly owned by Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds, who purchased a major share of Davos Brands’ Aviation Gin … and sold it just two years later for an astounding $610 million. In between those two milestones, Aviation Gin appeared in thousands of liquor stores around the world, racking up huge sales in North America and the U.K. Reynolds’ new partners Christian Krogstad and Ryan Magarian are probably still pinching themselves to see if it’s all real. The rise of… . . . read more

US Toy Industry Enjoys Boom Times in 2020

One industry that proved itself immune to the COVID-19 virus is the toy sector, which saw a staggering 16 per cent increase in revenue in 2020. According to a report by The NPD Group, US toy sales generated $25.1 billion in 2020, an increase of $3.5 billion. One interesting data point is that the number of unit sales for the year were flat while the average selling price increased by 16%. In other words, people didn’t buy more toys, but they bought more expensive toys. NPD analysts say much of the growth in 2020 was directly correlated to the COVID-19 pandemic and the way consumers reacted widespread lockdowns, social distancing and school closures. As well, because most consumers were spending much less money on other types of entertainment or products, they… . . . read more

Special Report: The Evolution of Music Licensing

By Gary Symons, TLL Editor in Chief The Bob Dylan music deal with Universal Music has shown that for musicians and music companies, the times truly are a’changin’. But, in truth, that change was coming long before Universal stroked a check for a reported $300 million to $400 million, in return for Dylan’s entire music catalog of roughly 600 songs. Also in December Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks sold 80 per cent of the rights to her catalog of songs she wrote to music publisher Primary Wave for a reported $100 million. In August, Imagine Dragons sold their catalog for more than $100 million to Concord Music Publishing. What should have gained a lot more press, however, were the other deals happening in 2019 and building momentum through 2020. For… . . . read more

Key Exec Ricky Strauss Leaves Disney

Deadline reports that Ricky Strauss, one of the key executives who launched Disney+ and former head of marketing for Walt Disney Studios, is leaving the company after nine years. The announcement was made internally through a memo obtained by Deadline, and Strauss also reportedly shared the news with his staff. The decision to leave comes as Disney has launched a full-scale overhaul of the entire corporation, in which Strauss was moved to a new role as President of Programming & Content Curation for Disney+ and Hulu. Strauss previously served as President of Content & Marketing, where he was in charge of developing the overall strategic vision for content at Disney+. He also oversaw development of Disney+’s programming decisions, production partnerships, and content acquisitions. Strauss joined the streaming division in 2018, before the… . . . read more

Unilever Fashion Deal Says We All Scream For Ice Cream

Unilever Australia’s Streets brand has partnered with Australia’s largest global retailer, Cotton On for an iconic summer fashion range for men and women featuring a selection of Unilever’s ice cream brands, Golden Gaytime, Bubble O’ Bill, Paddle Pop and Splice. The flavors are unique to Australasia and well known throughout Australia. The deal brokered by Asembl comes following the recent appointment announcement of Asembl as Unilever Australia’s brand extension agency. The deal will see Aussies staying cool in the summer with a Cotton On x Streets collection that includes tees and singlets, summer accessories including towels and flip flops, and sleepwear for hot summer nights. “We can’t wait to see the Streets brand come to fashion life in Cotton On stores across Australia,” said Unilever Australia Brand Manager, Samantha Jarmul. “Nothing… . . . read more

Licensing Legal Dispute Ended By Settlement

Two toy companies have peacefully resolved their licensing dispute after the parties recently obtained a ruling in court. The two companies have released a joint statement saying in part, “GennComm LLC (“GennComm”) and Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Company (“BHTB”) are pleased to announce that they have reached a mutually satisfactory resolution of long-pending intellectual property disputes concerning the design, use, and ownership to certain memory foam in plush toys, including Squeezamals.” GenComm and BHTB were locked in a court battle beginning March 26, 2020, which concluded with a ruling from Judge Cormac J. Carney. The court summary declared that “BHTB’s claims for declaratory relief are dismissed with prejudice, GennComm’s counterclaims for breach of contract are dismissed with prejudice … (and) Judgment is entered for GennComm on its counterclaim for infringement.”… . . . read more