He may be a relatively new kid on the block in his role as president and CEO of Sony Signatures, but Dell Furano knows the licensing industry better than most, and that makes it difficult for him to suppress his enthusiasm over the opportunities in the kids market.
‘Of all the areas of merchandising and believe me I’ve seen them all the kids market has the biggest potential payoff. Everything else is like fishing for minnows. This is where the big fish are. When you think of where the really big products are developed, in terms of building a franchise that can really last and really pay off big, there is nothing like the kids market.’
Furano should know. He has spent more than 20 years in the merchandising and licensing industry, mostly in concert and music merchandising, where he worked with such names as the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna and New Kids on the Block.
Now he heads three-year-old Sony Signatures in its mission to become a worldwide licensing force and a close-knit partner with others within the Sony Pictures Entertain-ment group of companies.
‘Family entertainment is a growing market worldwide and, yes, it’s cluttered, but I don’t know of many businesses right now that don’t face a highly competitive environment.
‘To succeed in this market, like anywhere else, you need to bring your own special value, apply your core skills and show that you’re in it for the long term. There is certainly a commitment here towards quality and a focusing of resources.’
Furano, whose first big coup at Sony Signatures was nabbing the exclusive worldwide licensing and merchandising rights for retail goods related to soccer’s 1998 World Cup, says he will be concentrating on building strong infrastructures around his licensing and merchandising programs.
‘You can’t forget about the need to get media on your property outside of the core that you bring to it. You need to get that toy deal, and you must know what will play to retailers.’
And within Sony, the challenge is much the same to foster and build a spirit of cooperation on every project.
‘The question is how to collaborate [among divisions] to build and market these properties as best we can. They are all inextricably woven together.’