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Seismic Shakeup in Publishing as Bertelsmann Buys Simon & Schuster

The parent company of America’s largest publishing house, Penguin Random House, has emerged the victor in a bidding war for the country’s third largest book publisher. Bertelsmann says it has reached an agreement to purchase S&S for $2.175 billion, with the deal expecting to close in 2021 following regulatory approvals. Until that time, the companies say S&S will continue to operate independently under current president and CEO Jonathan Karp. The agreement will essentially merge two of America’s largest publishers and increase Penguin’s dominance in the North American industry. “Simon & Schuster aligns completely with the creative and entrepreneurial culture that we nurture by providing editorial autonomy to our publishers, funding their pursuit of new stories, ideas, and voices, and maximizing reach for our authors,” said CEO Markus Dohle in a… . . . read more

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Bruce Lee Fight for Social Justice

By Gary Symons NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar announced this week his first-ever partnership with the estate of his dear friend, the late martial arts phenomenon Bruce Lee. The collaboration between these two iconic athletes and advocates for social justice kicks off with the release of a limited edition t-shirt on Nov. 27, which would have been Bruce Lee’s 80th birthday. “We had an unlikely friendship—a 7’2” basketball player and a 5’8” martial artist—but we had a shared interest in music, the arts, philosophy, and improving the lives of people who looked like us,” said Abdul-Jabbar. “We believe that tackling systemic racism starts with making a friend who doesn’t look like you and creating empathy for others. That’s what we’re hoping to promote with our social justice champion/social justice warrior efforts.”… . . . read more

How to Play the Game of Video Game Licensing

Video gaming has arguably become the single largest market for digital media licensing in the world, surpassing film, television, music and sports, and if there’s one thing that irritates Chris Petrovic and Shaan Akbar, it’s that video games are sometimes treated in the licensing world as the half-grown stepchild of more traditional media. The two men are gaming industry veterans heavily involved in licensing negotiations for various developers. Petrovic is SVP and Head of Corporate Strategy, M&A and Business Development at Zynga, while Akbar is a D2C entrepreneur and advisor to the gaming industry, who has worked with major brands including Disney and the Star Wars portfolio. “It wouldn’t be a gaming discussion without highlighting how big gaming is,” said Petrovic. “I think this is the statistic that keeps getting… . . . read more

Tommy Hilfiger Appoints Avery Baker as President and Chief Brand Officer

Tommy Hilfiger announced a huge change to their business Thursday, announcing Avery Baker will take over as President and Chief Brand Officer, with global responsibility for the brand’s products and marketing across all categories, regions and channels. Baker replaces Michael Schreiner, who served as global chief marketing officer for the past year, but is leaving the company. The role of a global president for Tommy Hilfiger is a new position. This marks a return for Baker, who originally joined Tommy Hilfiger in 1998 and has worked in a wide range of roles with the company, including Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Brand Officer. In mid-2019, Baker stepped away from her role to spend time focused on family. She now returns to head the organization at a time when Tommy Hilfiger… . . . read more

Jazwares Hits High Note With Do, Re, & Mi Toy Deal

Toy company Jazwares is hitting a high note this year, after being tapped to create a new line of toys inspired by the upcoming animated kids’ series Do, Re & Mi, to be aired on Amazon Prime next year. Do, Re, and Mi will be co-produced by Amazon Studios and Gaumont, the world’s first movie studio. The show follows the musical adventures of three best birdie buddies and features the voice talents of Kristen Bell, Jackie Tohn, and more. The toys, which will feature the loveable characters from the show will also be themed around Do, Re & Mi’s key pillars of friendship, fun and adventure, and the power of music. The Do, Re & Mi toy line is set to hit retail in conjunction with the series in 2021…. . . . read more

Pop Star Dua Lipa Will Be the Face of Puma’s Women’s Business Unit

By Gary Symons Puma announced this week it has signed Dua Lipa as a brand ambassador, adding to the already robust roster of stars affiliated with the German sportswear giant. Just this year Puma also signed UFC champion Israel Adesanya, soccer star Neymar Jr., and just last month added fast-rising NBA rookie LaMelo Ball. The German sportswear giant announced Nov. 17 that it has signed a multiyear deal with the singer-songwriter, who will be the face of its women’s business. Aside from boosting the profile of Puma’s women’s business unit, Lipa will work to “help inspire women around the world” through global campaigns and “important inclusive initiatives close to her heart,” the company says. For her part, Lipa says she’s looking forward to taking a creative part in the upcoming… . . . read more

Genius Brands Announces Strategic Acquisition of ChizComm Ltd. and ChizComm Beacon Media

With Over $100 Million Dollars in Annual Aggregated Media Spend, ChizComm is the Largest Purchaser of Children’s Media in North America By Gary Symons Nov. 17, 2020 The global brand management company Genius Brands International announced what it calls the “transformative acquisition” of ChizComm Ltd., a leading North American marketing and media agency, as well as its subsidiary ChizComm Beacon Media, a division involved in media research, planning and media buys.  ChizComm is the largest purchaser of children’s media across both traditional and digital platforms in North America, as well as an established leader in PR, media, and marketing within the kids/family media and consumer product sectors.  ChizComm was founded by Harold and Jennifer Chizick in 2013. With offices in New Jersey, Los Angeles, and Toronto, the company represents more… . . . read more

Hello Kitty Scores Partnership With Bandai UK’s Tamagotchi

It’s been a busy and successful week for Sanrio’s Hello Kitty property, as the company followed up on its partnership with Mattel’s Barbie, announcing a collaboration with the popular Tamagotchi ‘virtual pet’ game. Tamagotchi was introduced to the world as a virtual pet, housed in a tiny digital device, first released in Japan in 1996 and internationally in 1997. The little egg-shaped device became hugely popular through the late 1990s and 2000s, and by 2017 Bandai had sold 82 million units. A little known fact is that co-creator and inventor Aki Maita won the 1997 Nobel Prize for Economics for the creation of Tamagotchi. Tamagotchi gameplay centres on the natural, human desire to care for others, and particularly children. Marketed initially to teenaged girls, Tamagotchi are a small alien species that… . . . read more

Cuteness Overload: Barbie Partners with Hello Kitty

US toy giant Mattel has partnered with Sanrio to create a branding dynamo, combining the iconic Barbie line with the globally popular Hello Kitty brand for the first time. The two companies say they will collaborate on the development of a colourful and contemporary product line aimed at kids and adults that will span accessories, apparel, health and beauty, and footwear. The lines are due for release in early 2021 with an initial focus on soft lines, but will expand with new offerings throughout the year. “We’re excited to bring the world of Hello Kitty to life through this consumer products partnership with Barbie,” said Lisa Weger, Mattel’s regional head of consumer products for EMEA. “The collection will enable fans of all ages to experience Hello Kitty and Barbie through… . . . read more

Busy Day as EA Inks Deals with UFC and the NHL

Gaming giant Electronic Arts (EA) has announced two new multiyear extensions of its agreements with the UFC and the NHL, allowing the company to continue putting out its popular sport simulation games on all platforms. The NHL and the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) announced the renewal for EA Sports NHL on Nov. 5, building on the momentum for the franchise. “We are thrilled to accelerate fun hockey experiences for years to come pushing the industry forward with our long-time NHL and NHLPA partners,” said Cam Weber, Executive Vice President & Group GM, EA SPORTS. “The EA SPORTS NHL franchise these past 30 years has become synonymous with hockey culture, and this extension will ensure it remains at the forefront of connecting millions of fans around the world to the sport… . . . read more