Who Simon Waters, global SVP of licensing & publishing at Hasbro, who’s just six months into the job.
You might recognize Waters from his days at Disney Consumer Products. During his time at the House of Mouse, Waters moved from a UK-based role, brokering DTR deals with the likes of ASDA and Tesco, into an international that eventually saw him head up the global franchise business for crown jewels Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh.
Why take note? Over the past few years the upper ranks of Hasbro’s outbound lifestyle licensing business has been in a bit of flux as the company shifts from toyco to overall branded-play powerhouse. Waters has been brought in to create cohesive global licensing strategies for key properties including Transformers, My Little Pony and Nerf, while launching new ones—Battleship, which is set for a big-screen treatment in 2012, is at the top of that list. It’s worth recognizing that Hasbro’s entertainment and licensing segment reported a none-too-shabby operating profit of US$5.9 million in Q3 2010. (Year-end numbers had not been reported at press time.)
Down to business Since taking the reins last August, Waters has been busy assessing international operations and putting Hasbro personnel on the ground where it makes sense, for example, opening up an office recently in Spain, where the company had previously been repped by a licensing agent. In addition, he’s formulated a strategy that revolves around amping up the brands’ reach, relevance, experience and connections. In hard terms, that means putting products designed for untapped demos into new retail channels and driving cross-category statements at retail with a focus on making properties 365-day-a-year propostions, rather than being continually reliant on fresh entertainment. Waters points to a recent program with Scrabble as an example. His team was able to leverage the classic board game’s appeal into an adult-targeted housewares program with Pottery Barn last fall, in which the US specialty retailer sold items like themed wine glass charms and placemats that resembled the iconic letter tiles. Similarly he helped land a first-time deal with hip apparel retailer Fcuk for Transformers t-shirts.
Next up As Hasbro JV The Hub continues to ramp up, Waters will be focusing on girl brands My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop. Iconic 1970s fashion doll Blythe, for example, is joining the Littlest Pet Shop cast of animals, and Waters believes she should give a trendy boost to the brand’s softlines program. He’s also “open to looking at doing deals differently” to forge more long-term strategic relationships with licensees, including portfolio-wide deals.