New year, new you. That’s certainly the case for Denise Gomez, who joined Boat Rocker Studios in December 2020 as director of licensing for the Americas.
In this newly created role, Gomez is responsible for building and driving global franchises in the region, with a focus on kids and family brands. In addition to covering the US, Canada and Latin America, she will also be involved in negotiating larger-scale global agreements. Based in New York, Gomez reports to Kate Schlomann, EVP of brand management and content marketing.
Gomez was drawn to starting with a relatively blank consumer products slate. “It’s exciting to be able to establish yourself in a new position,” she says. “The company is still a relatively new player in the licensing and merchandising space, so it was a real draw to be at the forefront of launching their franchise presence across the Americas.”
There’s no post-holiday slump for Gomez, who has hit the ground running. Boat Rocker’s CG-animated preschool series Dino Ranch, produced with Industrial Brothers, is set to launch on January 16 in Canada (CBC) and January 18 in the US (Disney Junior and DisneyNOW).
The 52 x 11-minute show follows the Cassidy family as they deal with life in a world where dinosaurs still roam the earth. Dino Ranch focuses on concepts like problem-solving, friendship, caring for animals and strengthening family and community connections. Boat Rocker Studios is handling global distribution and licensing rights.
“Dino Ranch will be my immediate focus,” Gomez says. “Kids have been watching more TV during the pandemic, and they want the security of trusted and uplifting brands. We think the wide-open spaces and big blue skies featured in Dino Ranch will help transport children who cannot get outside, giving them a taste of life on the open plains.”
In addition to dinosaurs, the preschool series stars an adoptive family, which Gomez says is a positive way of demonstrating to kids that not all families have to look the same. Licensees, including global master toy partner Jazwares and publishing partner Scholastic, will reflect the diverse cast of characters in upcoming consumer products offerings. Gomez is working on retail plans for the property, and is currently in talks with potential partners for secondary categories, with a focus on softlines.
Other short-term goals include exploring new CP opportunities for Love Monster, which recently launched on HBO Max, as well as series including Kingdom Force and The Next Step.
Before joining Boat Rocker, Gomez worked at Cartoon Network (senior director of licensing) and Nickelodeon (manager of retail development).
She has more than 20 years of experience in the industry, and feels that will be key for navigating strategic planning and long-term efforts to drive monetization for Boat Rocker’s IPs across all categories and retail channels, especially as companies grapple with the ongoing shifts in consumer habits as a result of the pandemic.
“There’s a need to keep abreast of consumer attitudes and be aware of how the pandemic is affecting their behavior, particularly as some markets are recovering faster than others,” she says. “There are obviously challenges at retail, with may shops having to close, others dealing with excess stock, and many being extra cautious since the future is so uncertain.”
Gomez is interested in exploring several categories that have experienced surges during the pandemic—including arts & crafts, puzzles and games. But even more important than new consumer product categories, is a focus on new partnerships.
“I like to set ambitious goals,” she says, “and I have had considerable success in the acquisition and management of licensing partnerships, maximizing growth across categories, and extending retail penetration for multiple top entertainment brands.”