New York’s King Features Syndicate—home to characters like Popeye and Betty Boop—has bolstered its licensing and marketing teams with eight new hires, including a new director of business development and two new licensing directors.
A member of the Hearst Entertainment & Syndication group, King Features has tapped former Houghton Mifflin Harcourt director Erinn Smart as its new director of business development. In her role at HMH, Smart developed business partnerships for the Curious World, Carmen Sandiego and Oregon Trail properties.
One of King Features’ new licensing directors is a former VP of global lifestyle and retail at Discovery Communications, Ricky Li, who is joined in the role by fellow Discovery Communications exec Christina Nix Lynch, who formerly oversaw sales and account management for publishing, pets, promotions and consumables on behalf of Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Shark Week.
iHeartRadio’s former director of marketing, Bridgette Bek, has also joined King Features as senior director of digital marketing. Prior to iHeartRadio, Bek worked at Viacom International Media Networks to launch the company’s first global SVOD in more than 100 countries.
Additional hires include Sam Scholl as licensing coordinator, Kristine Conte as marketing project manager, Stephen Zelin as brand assurance associate and Saydee Villarruel as office manager and assistant to the president.
Former Houghton Mifflin Harcourt exec C.J. Kettler took the reins as president of King Features in December with a mandate to boost the company’s digital entertainment initiatives across multiple platforms. To that effect, the company has just announced a partnership with DHX Media-owned Wildbrain, which will produce original Popeye and Friends content for YouTube. The upcoming videos will be the first original Popeye content in more than 10 years, and come as the brand gears up for its 90th anniversary next year.
King Features distributes comics, columns, puzzles and games to print and digital outlets, and licenses both brands and comic characters for entertainment programs, as well as consumer products.