Warner Bros. Consumer Products is moving its properties around the world at a fast pace as classics like the Looney Tunes and new Cartoon Network hits become more widely available through programming and merchandising efforts.
Now comprising between 40% and 50% of Warner Bros. Consumer Products’ total revenues, the international licensing division recently signed deals with a number of new licensees in Latin America and China, and is concentrating efforts on a recently formed consumer products office in Mexico.
Mark Matheny, senior VP of international licensing, says challenges facing the division in areas like Latin America and China are fading because of a combination of more lenient rules regarding importation of foreign goods, increased spending power, and penetration of Warner Bros. programming into these markets.
‘There have been some very significant changes in retailing in South America,’ he says, explaining that in the 10 years Warner Bros. has been operating in Latin America, he has seen the growth of big box stores like Wal-Mart and a more economically secure population.
‘People are just buying more stuff.’ He adds it was an advantage that Warner Bros. had been one of the first studios to invest its efforts in the region before its economy improved. Matheny predicts that Cartoon Network’s The Powerpuff Girls will be big in Latin America in the near future and sees plenty of licensing and merchandising opportunities there. So far, Mexico’s Productora Arita is producing socks based on Cartoon Network original series (Dexter’s Laboratory, Cow & Chicken, and The Powerpuff Girls), as well as for Hanna-Barbera classics like The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo and Tom & Jerry. As well, New York-based Tycoon produced a Fiesta Looney Tunes 2000 CD, which was released last month.
In other countries like China, Warner Bros. Consumer Products is aligning itself with the likes of an unusual food product-dairy milk-which until recently was a rarity in China because of lack of proper refrigeration. The division recently signed an agreement with China Peregrine Food Corp. for a line of Looney Tunes licensed dairy beverage products, including pasteurized milk, juice and yogurt drinks. Matheny says part of the healthy-product initiative will be to bring refrigeration units into the stores. The milk became available in Shanghai and Hangzhou in September.