By Allison Watkinson
The fast-growing animation studio ZAG has appointed Rafael Baltodano, formerly with The Walt Disney Company, as Vice President of North America Retail Development.
The announcement was made by Julian Zag, EVP Global Operations and Head of Consumer Products.
Reporting to ZAG’s SVP of Licensing in North America, Lisa K. Foster, Baltodano will manage strategic relationships across all tiers of retail throughout North America for the roster of properties under the ZAG Heroez label—an umbrella brand franchise that brings together the superheroes from ZAG’s various animated properties. Those include the breakout hit Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir; Power Players; and the company’s newest property, Ghostforce.
Prior to joining ZAG, Baltodano served in several key licensing and retail positions for The Walt Disney Company, Pixar, and Marvel, spanning over 15 years. Most recently he served as Director of Retail Brand Development creating the overarching go to market retail strategies for the Disney and Pixar franchises.
Baltodano will now be assigned to help further ZAG’s mission in building best-in-class licensed programs, supporting licensees with product placement, and promotion. Baltodano’s initial focus will be to work with retailers on the fall rollout of products for ZAG’s hugely successfulMiraculous series, for which over 200 million products have been sold during the past three years.
“Demand continues to be extremely strong for Miraculous with sales exceeding expectations across the board,” commented Julian Zag. “Rafael will lead the charge to expand placement for our partners as well as securing promotional space for retailers around key events surrounding the brand.”
“I have been impressed by the tremendous growth of ZAG over the past couple of years and the quality of content and merchandise the company creates,” said Baltodano. “I look forward to working with the ZAG team, retailers, and our partners, to bring a whole new range of quality products to our Miraculous fans across North America this fall and throughout 2023.”
Baltodano joins ZAG at a time when the relatively young animation studio is experiencing explosive global growth. The company has developed a mature and successful licensing program, and has opened offices in several locations around the world.
Numerous licensed Miraculous products are rolling out this year alongside the new fall 2022 toy line from ZAG Laband Playmates, which includes an expanded Heroez doll line with new characters and nineteen Kwami collectibles.
Toys have also been rolling out in planogram at retailers Walmart, Target and Kohl’s, to name a few. Other products rolling out this year include watches from Accutime; craft and activity products from Horizon; walkie talkies from Kid Designs; healthy snacking from Crunch Pak; and fruit snacks from Ferrara.
These new products will join numerous products already at retail including publishing from Little Brown Books for Young Readers; color and activity books from Bendon; an expanded apparel line and sleepwear from Bentex Apparel Group, Komar and BioWorld; girl’s apparel from Jerry Leigh of California; footwear from SG Companies; and more.