‘I’m not a licensor,’ stresses J’el Ehrlich, the newest Warner Bros. executive and a self-described ‘promotion marketing intense person.
‘I’m a kids marketer.’
Ehrlich, who will split time as senior VP of promotions at Warner Bros. consumer products and senior VP of advertising and promotions at its DC Comics unit, was hired away from Marvel Entertainment Group to develop licensing deals, branded products and integrated retail events for Warner Bros.’ stable of superheros.
In his new role, Ehrlich talks about channeling that intensity, at least initially, towards five of WB’s primary properties: Superman, Batman and Robin, Total Justice, Lois and Clark and Madd TV.
‘The wonderful thing about these properties is that they keep being reinvented through movies and TV shows,’ Ehrlich points out. ‘And the really cool thing here is that I have the cross-promotional advantage of a network behind me.’
In fact, the WB network is currently talking about on-air promos that would possibly pair Superman and singing mascot Michigan J. Frog.
With the Superman animated film slated to air in August, Ehrlich is looking further into fast food, soft drink and cereal tie-ins. Likewise, he has plans for a tie-in with Hasbro-Kenner’s Total Justice toy line due out this summer, though both are too preliminary to discuss in any detail.
Instead, Ehrlich prefers to talk about his ‘kid marketer’ philosophy and why this makes him a good choice to take on his new role.
‘When it comes to ideas, most licensors simply toss a style book at their clients and leave it up to them to work with their agency or creative people,’ he says. ‘I believe that it’s our responsibility to walk hand in hand with our clients and help research and generate ideas for them, whether it’s a promotion or point-of-sale contest.’
And Ehrlich has the track record to prove he can do it. At Marvel, he was responsible for packaging Spider-Man and the X-Men for a merchandising bonanza that includes cereal boxes, candy and fast food meals, with its own Toy Biz and Fleet trading card units providing the premiums. Not only did Ehrlich work closely with Ralston on designs for its cereal boxes, he also orchestrated a Breakfast with Spider-Man contest, in which the winner will receive a visit from Spider-Man.
Looking ahead, Ehrlich tosses out ideas for other WB properties, like Lois and Clark and Madd TV. To illustrate the ‘electricity’ of the former, he talks about a possible Hershey promotion, like ‘The Top 10 Kisses of All Time,’ while for Madd TV, he has something a bit more ‘irreverent and rebellious’ in mind, like putting Madd magazine’s cover character, Alfred E. Newman, on cans of Orange Crush.
It’s still too early to determine whether either will materialize, but one thing is certain there will be no shortage of ideas.