Bringing his brand development expertise into play under a new indie shingle, former CTM-Concept TV & Merchandising managing director Hans Ulrich Stoef has opened a brand incubation company called m4e in Munich. The outfit specializes in developing TV series concepts as brands in the German market, and is set up to handle everything from distribution, co-production and broadcast deals, to licensing and marketing.
‘We see all of our properties as having the potential to be brands; otherwise we won’t touch them,’ says Stoef. ‘We’re taking a 360-degree focus. For example, if we are offered US$60,000 from ZDF for a half hour, and only US$15,000 from RTL2, we might decide to go with RTL2 because the ancillary revenues are much bigger.’
Although it just launched in November 2003, m4e already has several A-list clients on its roster, including Marvel, which was one of the first companies to sign up. m4e holds the German merchandising rights to the entire Marvel library of 4,000-plus properties, including any new movies that might spin off the franchises in the future.
m4e has also joined forces with Italian prodco Rainbow to co-produce and handle the German TV and merch rights to Monster Allergy, a 26 x 24-minute, 2-D animated comedy about a boy who must neutralize monsters that only he can see. m4e has already secured ZDF as a German co-production partner for the series, which is slated for delivery in mid-2005, and the company plans to roll out home video, interactive and toy lines shortly after its TV debut.
Last month, the company signed a strategic partnership with Alliance Atlantis to represent all of the prodco’s kids activities in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, including securing broadcast deals and licensees for properties like Poko and Mental Block.
On m4e’s development slate is a series of one-minute comedy interstitials called Hip Tip that will run three times a day on an as-yet-unnamed German broadcaster. The shorts highlight new trends and technology in mobile phone content.
Stoef says the company has several more deals in the works, which he hopes to announce later this month, and in the coming year, he will be focusing on cultivating shows and properties out of the Japanese market.