By the time Cathy Hoffman Glosser joined Saban Entertainment as the director of licensing and merchandising from DIC Entertainment, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers mania had already crested, as evidenced by the less-than-boffo box-office take of the movie. Hoffman Glosser’s mission was to help Saban breathe some new life into an already highly merchandised property.
That stage was set with the April launch of a retooled version of the show dubbed Power Rangers ZEO.
‘Just like any adult drama series, you have to go forward and keep changing it, but just enough so you’re not changing it too much,’ says Hoffman Glosser. ‘We introduced new characters to keep the property alive.’ And new characters mean new merchandising opportunities.
Power Rangers ZEO’s rare April launch has paid off handsomely for Saban. Like its predecessor, the show has been winning its ratings slot. ‘It is still the top-rated show,’ says Hoffman Glosser. ‘It’s unprecedented.’ Moreover, Power Rangers merchandise continues to sell. ‘If you go into Toys ‘R’ Us, you’ll see that section picked over.’
According to Hoffman Glosser, the show’s continued success underscores the continued popularity of live-action programming for children. Not too surprisingly, Saban’s number one fall launch, BeetleBorgs, is also live action. It will follow Power Rangers ZEO when the show resumes in the fall.
Other properties in the Saban stable include Oliver Twist, The Why Why Family, Samurai Pizza Cats and Mouse and the Monster. Thanks to its alliance with Fox, Saban handles all Fox licensing and merchandising for shows such as The Tick and Life With Louie. ‘We’ve got a lot on our plate,’ says Hoffman Glosser. ‘We produce the most children’s programming of anybody.’
When developing a program, ‘definitely you look at the whole picture,’ she says. ‘Merchandising plays such an important part in children’s programming, you really have to take a close look at it.’ At Saban, ‘we definitely take into serious consideration all aspects of the company merchandise, audio, interactive, home video, the whole picture.’
Hoffman Glosser believes the company has succeeded thanks to its integrated licensing and marketing operations. ‘A lot of the divisions report to the same person. The marketing, the promotions, the whole integral cycle works. All the pieces fit together.’
But how the pieces fit together outside of Saban’s operation is also an issue. For Hoffman Glosser, the biggest problem facing the industry is the faltering retail industry. ‘I think retail is in a place where it’s not as strong as it could be, and there are a lot of properties and not a lot of shelf space.’ But, she adds, ‘the business is very cyclical, and I’m confident it will come around.’
In this climate, maintaining relationships with licensees is more important than ever. ‘You’re building a relationship with your licensees and you need to take care of those,’ she says. If a program falters, ‘you need to go back and nurture the relationship, especially at this time when retail is lagging.’
Unlike the larger studios, children’s programming is the company’s primary focus. That may be why, at press time, word came that Harvey Enterprises opted to partner up with Saban instead of a major studio to co-produce the direct-to-video sequels of Casper and Richie Rich. ‘What sets us apart is we’re corporate, yet we’re entrepreneurial,’ says Hoffman Glosser. ‘That balance works well.’