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M&A & Experiential

American households are loading up on credit card debt, according to data from the Federal Reserve and a related study by WalletHub. By the end of 2017, credit card debt in the U.S. reached $1.01 trillion, beating out the previous record of $984 billion at the end of 2008 and the start of 2009, the tipping point of the Great Recession. Just this past holiday season, WalletHub found that Americans added $67.6 billion in credit card debt in Q4—the highest quarterly accumulation in three decades. More worryingly for analysts at the firm, 2017 as a whole saw the addition of about $92 billion in new credit card debt, or debt that wasn’t carried over from previous years, which is the most for any year since 2007.

Nordstrom buys two retail technology companies: BevyUp, a digital selling tool, and MessageYes, a platform for conversational commerce. Their technology will be rolled into an integrated mobile Nordstrom employee app debuting later this year. The app aims to provide an enhanced, personalized shopping experience for consumers and improve the performance of selling associates.

DC Entertainment launches DC Black Label, a new publishing imprint that will expand the media company’s canon of superheroes with standalone stories outside of the current DC Universe.

A new potential NHL franchise in Seattle has stopped taking season ticket deposits after reeling in 33,000 as it tested the market for interest and viability in hockey. Marketing agency Green Rubino will additionally open a waitlist; the group is looking to launch the team for the 2020 season.

Experiential Initiatives

Disney and McDonald’s are getting back together after over a decade with a multi-year, non-exclusive agreement for Happy Meal cross-promotional campaigns in the U.S. The partnership kicks off for The Incredibles 2 this summer and will be followed by Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 in the fall. All Happy Meals offered on menu boards in the U.S. will be in line with Disney’s nutrition guidelines—McDonald’s recently revealed its commitment to reduce calories, saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar in its Meals.

eOne signs with Italian theme park Leolandia to launch the first themed attraction inspired by its animated preschool series PJ Masks. The exclusive, multi-year agreement will bring the show’s heroes and headquarters to life in various attractions, live entertainment, and restaurant services.

Boston-based apparel company Life is Good and provider of “active vacations” Austin Adventures launch Life is Good Vacations. The branded trips will feature multiple activities celebrating the outdoors (including hiking, biking, kayaking, yoga, trail running) and will be infused with tips to live life with a positive view. This season, small groups will be able to vacation in Montana, Utah, the Canadian Rockies, and Costa Rica.

Universal Studios Hollywood has added a dedicated Hello Kitty shop inside its new Animation Studio Store, which will also include character goods from Illumination Entertainment and DreamWorks Animation. Hello Kitty will be featured alongside fellow Sanrio characters including My Melody, Keroppi, and Chocoat in exclusive accessories, apparel, stationery, and collectibles. Sanrio characters will also headline exclusive product designs with classic Universal characters from Jaws, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and Back to the Future.

Outerwear brand Canada Goose partners with the Pantone Color Institute to create a specific shade of bluePBI Blue—in celebration of the 10th anniversary of its support of NGO Polar Bears Intl. (PBI), which works to protect polar bears and their habitat.

Living the Green Life

As part of Hasbro’s move toward more sustainable packaging, the toyco will use plant-based, bio-polyethylene terephthalate (PET) for blister packs and plastic windows in its product packaging beginning in 2019. Hasbro began eliminating wire ties in 2010; in 2015, it reached 90% recycled or sustainably sourced paper for packaging and in-box content.

The LEGO Group will be making a botanical elements construction block range—including leaves, bushes, and trees—out of plastic sourced from sugarcane. The initiative is part of LEGO’s commitment to use only sustainable materials in core products and packaging by 2030.


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