With its acquisition of Golden Books Family Entertainment expected to be finalized later this month, DIC Entertainment’s growing worldwide consumer products and licensing department is ramping up to handle a widening property portfolio.
‘It’s time to expand,’ says Melissa Bomes, executive VP of worldwide consumer products. ‘It was part of the plan when we broke from Disney.’ A management-led buyout of DIC from The Walt Disney Company in November gained the studio its independence, enabling it to develop more properties in-house and to fully service more acquired properties in a way it was not able to do under Disney.
The licensing division, which DIC’s new president Brad Brooks sees as a great profit center, has undergone a complete organizational shift from management of properties to management of categories.
Ryan Gagerman, promoted in October from manager to director of consumer products, is handling the hardline category, which includes products such as toys, puzzles, games, sporting goods, trading cards, novelty food and candy items. In April, Cindy Davis joined from Saban Entertainment as senior director responsible for softline goods like apparel, home décor, gift and collectibles, stationery and interactive software. ‘As more properties come on-line, we can layer them right onto the structure we have in place, which makes us capable of handling much more,’ says Bomes.
Knowing that successful programs these days rest on really good art and a strong sense of what serves the property best, DIC brought Mindy Barsky onboard as creative director in January. With stints at Mattel as creative manager for worldwide Barbie consumer products and at Disney as product development for filmed entertainment toy licensing under her belt, Barsky is expected to lead the creative direction for all DIC’s licensed products with ease.
Managing four properties, the expanded DIC licensing team is initially focusing its efforts on boys property Super Duper Sumos. A 26 x 30-minute animated TV series is launching on the BBC in late fall and has also been sold to Spain’s Antena 3, Italy’s Mediaset, Canada’s YTV, Fox Kids Latin America and Disney Asia. Created in-house at DIC, the humorous, action-adventure property is based on three super-sized sumo wrestlers who get even larger when they’re out saving the world. DIC is looking to sign licenses for Stretch Armstrong-like playthings, as well as plush and interactive products. A toy license was also in the works at press time.
Looking to penetrate the merch market more deeply with Madeline, DIC will be looking for licensees to produce preschool-targeting activity and craft sets that let kids make their own buttons, bath play toys, picture frames, etc.
DIC is also looking for an interactive software partner for Sailor Moon, which has done well in the specialty and doll markets. The licensing unit is also developing a program for Liberty’s Kids, a new educational series about the American Revolution that launches in the spring on PBS. Product for this property should start rolling out in 2003.