When German agency MM Merchandising merges with sister company SevenOne Club & Shop at the end of March, it will have a new distribution outlet at its disposal – a prized asset in today’s tough climate.
Whereas MM Merchandising used to be a classic licensing agent that marketed ancillary rights in film, TV and publishing, SevenOne Club & Shop has expertise in e-commerce and the catalogue business, operating audience clubs for ProSieben, Sat.1 and Kabel 1 and a direct sales business – often in cooperation with major partners in concerts, events and lifestyle products/services.
‘A lot of people are talking about realizing e-commerce, but not many are actually doing it in Germany,’ notes new MM Merchandising managing director Bettina Kockler.
The powerhouse potential the two merch units can offer together was enough to lure Kockler away from Spider-Man’s lucrative web. The former Sony Pictures Consumer Products VP of international licensing began her career at MM 10 years ago, working her way up to a director of sales position before leaving the agency in 1997. As it turned out, Kockler missed her sales roots and made the decision to rejoin the ProSiebenSat.1 Group in part ‘to be actively involved in selling again.’
The fact that the merged unit is housed within the ProSieben broadcast empire is also valuable. Kockler is taking a look at the ProSieben and Sat.1 libraries to find ways to present licensees with a complete package. ‘We can also offer them airing schedules – and you know how difficult it can be to get that information from a broadcaster.’ In her new remit, Kockler will focus on marketing and licensing third-party ancillary rights, with joint managing director (and former SevenOne Club & Shop managing director) Marcus Hintzen overseeing merch programs for ProSieben’s station brands.
Kockler is also looking to involve licensees in the activities of all ProSieben Group broadcasters – marketing, on- and off-air promotions, etc. And licensees will be able to make use of all the broadcast platforms within the group, provided that the show at the root of the property is airing on one of the channels. Because she doesn’t want to be limited to managing rights for TV properties that air on one of the ProSieben channels, Kockler will seek representation for characters and brands that appear on other German broadcast outlets.
But the immediate focus is on properties in MM’s existing portfolio, including Totally Spies!, Mr. Bean and a relaunch of The Smurfs.
As the new team analyzes the working processes of both former units, staff cuts are not part of the going-forward plan. ‘We want to maximize the services and opportunities that the new company can offer to licensors and licensees,’ says Kockler. ‘And we certainly wouldn’t be able to do that if we were just trying to slim down the structure.’
As Kockler and Hintzen settle into their new roles, former MM managing directors Dirk Fabarius and Gregor Peitz have left ‘due to differences in opinion concerning the future direction of the company.’