Disney purchased National Geographic’s TV channels, studios, magazine and other media assets as part of its US$71-billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox in 2019. And now Nat Geo Kids is taking cues from the House of Mouse as it shifts its licensing strategy and brings in new partners.
Nat Geo Kids is a children’s brand with a scientific organization at its center, and while education will continue to be a core tenet, the company’s new direction with Disney will incorporate licensees that focus more on fun, says Paul Southern, SVP of franchise and licensing for Lucasfilm and National Geographic.
This strategy starts with Nat Geo Kids’ upcoming safari-focused consumer products program. Animals are evergreen, and the fan-favorite safari theme provides the company with a strong foundation to start making changes, he says.
The CP program is launching with a line from Florida-based toymaker Just Play. Available on Amazon in October, it includes figures, plush and roleplay items.
Core toys will be available from US$15, while specialty items will retail for US$100. Each item will also include a QR code that unlocks Nat Geo Kids content online. Moving forward, Southern says the CP program will expand to include additional softlines and back-to-school items.
Beyond this safari-centric offering, however, Nat Geo is looking to partner with new licensees and appeal to older demographics, according to Southern.
In recent months, the team has been busy developing new relationships with brands like Reebok, the Gap and Tentree to create lifestyle products that will appeal to the entire family.
National Geographic Kids is benefitting from Disney’s extensive licensing partnerships in this effort, and Southern says the House of Mouse has spent the last two years diving into the core of the Nat Geo brand to determine which new avenues work best from a product perspective. The next step is to create connections with licensees in these areas.
“Our partners are going to play a key role in growth for this brand,” Southern says. “The opportunities are endless for the franchise.”