Universal shakes up consumer products team

Former Mattel exec Joe Lawandus joins the company, and Marc Low's role has been elevated, as Universal Brand Development announces Manuel Torres Port’s departure.
August 11, 2017

Universal Brand Development has announced that EVP of worldwide consumer products Manuel Torres Port is leaving the company at the end of August. The company also announced that Joe Lawandus has been appointed to SVP and GM of North America consumer products, and that Marc Low‘s current role is being expanded to SVP and GM of international consumer products.

Both Low and Lawandus—who will join Universal in September—will report directly to Universal Brand Development president Vince Klaseus.

Industry vet Lawandus most recently served as SVP and GM of global brand marketing and design at Mattel. As the leader of the Mattel Toy Box Boys brand design and marketing teams, he was responsible for developing Mattel-owned intellectual properties as well as licensed products for action figures, role-play, vehicles and innovative toys. Previously, Lawandus was co-founder of Seattle-based gaming startup Smith & Tinker Inc., held executive roles at both Cranium Inc. and Disney Consumer Products, and started his career as a global brand manager at Hasbro.

Low is currently SVP of international for Universal’s consumer products business unit. His expanded role to GM will see him focus on driving the company’s consumer products business in the company’s expanding international regions.

Universal Brand Development recently appointed five industry veterans to manage its consumer product business in select EMEA territories— including Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, Iberia, Italy and Benelux—as the company continues to grow its CP business and expand the studio’s global franchises.

Earlier this year, the company expanded its strategic focus on gaming with a move to self-publish its own titles. The Comcast-owned business segment will build an organization to take a more direct role in the creative, development, marketing and distribution of multiplatform games based on its own IPs, including the Despicable Me and Minions franchises (pictured).

At that same time, Universal Brand Development unveiled a new leadership team with five executive appointments. James Molinets was named SVP of production, Timothy FitzRandolph was appointed VP of creative and Fabian Schonholz was named SVP of technology and operations. Additionally, gaming executives Bill Kispert and Pete Wanat were named GM of business development and VP of production, respectively.

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