Unable to stay away from the action for long, former Sony Consumer Products executive VP Al Ovadia has already set up a new company to develop intellectual property that can thrive in TV and film, as well as at retail.
Al Ovadia & Associates will help newcomers to the kids entertainment business secure financing and distribution for TV, home entertainment and film properties, providing licensing and promotional consulting services to boot. With 20 years of experience in the licensing industry, Ovadia figures hooking up with Tom Daniels, a former partner in L.A.-based film distribution outfit MediaWorks, should make for a good one-two punch.
‘There are a lot of terrific properties out there that don’t see the light of day because people lack the relationships to get in front of industry executives, or the financing to really flesh the properties out,’ says Ovadia. Ideally, he’d like to find under-developed kid- and family-oriented properties owned by non-U.S. creators looking to crack into the State-side market.
Ovadia would then amp up the saleable features of these concepts, and try to kickstart U.S. licensing programs and film/TV distribution deals. He also plans to approach licensees in the toy and video game categories to ante up some seed money for new projects in exchange for a cut of the back-end revenues. At the same time, Daniels would tap his contacts in the international co-production scene to shore up more funding.
Ovadia is scouting for one or two more compelling concepts to represent, but he’s already orchestrating the U.S. launch of his first pick-up, Huevocartoon.com. This Mexican website for teens was created by brothers Rodolfo and Gabriel Riva Palacio Alatriste, and it features the animated adventures of a wacky cast of Hispanic eggs. The site attracts nine million unique visitors a month, and Ovadia says a third of these are from the U.S. Without any publicity to speak of, this fanbase has developed in a completely organic way through word-of-mouth.
Ovadia plans to capitalize on this pre-existing awareness in the U.S. Hispanic community, and he’s in discussions with Spanish-language broadcasters to get the animated shorts on-air. A home entertainment deal is Ovadia’s next priority, along with a U.S. merch program that mirrors the property’s development in Mexico.
Over the last 18 months, Mexican licensing agent Tycoon has signed 25 Latin American licensees to handle categories ranging from plush and apparel to food promos. And last year, Sabritos (the Mexican subsidiary of Frito-Lay) ran a promotion featuring Huevo characters on 450 million snack product packages.