Following the Time Warner/Turner merger, Warner Bros. Consumer Products Division has assumed the licensing, merchandising and retail responsibilities for all Hanna-Barbera and Turner properties.
Warner Bros. gains the rights to well-known Hanna-Barbera animated television series such as The Flintstones, The Jetsons and Scooby Doo and to the Turner library of classic movies, including The Wizard of Oz, and classic television series such as Gilligan’s Island.
‘It made sense to have [licensing and merchandising operations] all under one umbrella instead of having two businesses doing similar functions,’ says George Jones, president of worldwide licensing for Warner Bros. Consumer Products Division. ‘Our business was quite a bit larger and it was further developed than the Turner business in terms of the size of our business, our revenues [and] our staff.’ As well, since Warner has nine offices worldwide in addition to its headquarters in Burbank, California, compared to Turner’s small operations in London and Hong Kong, the move cuts costs by eliminating the use of agents in several regions.
What the move means for Hanna-Barbera and Turner has not been fully determined. Jones is hesitant to reveal details about the impact on staff, although he says that the decision to keep Burbank as the base for licensing and merchandising has meant a loss of staff who were unwilling or unable to relocate from Turner’s New York headquarters or its Atlanta office. Russell Hicks, formerly vice president of Orbit City, the creative services and marketing group that oversaw Turner properties, has joined the new licensing and merchandising team as vice president of marketing for Cartoon Network and Turner properties.
As for strategy concerning Warner Bros.’ new properties and the question of whether Warner Bros. will continue to promote Hanna-Barbera in particular as its own brand, Jones says these are still in discussion. ‘A lot of what we’re trying to do now is to get our hands around it and prioritize in terms of where we see the biggest opportunities to pursue this.’
Still, Warner Bros. recognizes that many of its new properties have existing equity. ‘We see this as a tremendous opportunity,’ says Jones. ‘We love what Cartoon Network has been doing with these properties. We think that it’s very beneficial to us. We think we can also bring something to the table in terms of helping build these brands.’