Inside Licensing News and Notes, April 5, 2018

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Entertainment One Expects To Report Big Jump for Just-Concluded Year

Entertainment One expects to report a 50% revenue increase in revenue in the fiscal year that ended March 31.

Peppa Pig “continued to perform well in mature” markets, including the UK and Australia, and has seen a “significant demand” for licensed products in China where there are 50 licensees. The series airs on the CCTV network in China. In the U.S., “continued investment” in Peppa Pig is further building the brand and in Japan, where Peppa Pig debuted on TV Tokyo last October, consumer products will be released later this year.

The rollout of consumer products tied to “PJ Masks” in the U.S. is “ahead of expectations” and a third season of the series is in production. The second season began airing on Disney Junior in January. Peppa Pig was released on the Tencent, iQiyi and Youku Tudou video-on-demand platforms in China and consumer products will be available there later this year. The company also is readying two new series: “Cupcake and Dino: General Services” and “Ricky Zoom” for release later this year.

The liquidation of Toys R Us, which launched Peppa Pig consumer products in the U.S. in 2012, will have “some impact” on the company’s brands “in the short term,” Entertainment One said, but the overall impact is “not expected to be significant.”


Entertainment One, Joseph Sparacio, Chief Financial Officer, +44 20 3691 8600,


Genius Brands Revenue Up on Netflix Deal

Genius Brand International’s revenue rose sharply to $5.3 million in the year ended Jan. 31 from $866,875 a year earlier due largely to the delivery of its “Llama Llama” series to Netflix, which accounted for 84% of the company’s revenue for the year, it said.

Netflix, which launched the 15 30-min. episodes in January, recently signed on for second season of the series, which will debut with two holiday specials late this year, Genius CEO Andy Heyward told analysts. The company has a half dozen licensing agreements for Llama Llama, including with Franco Manufacturing (bedding) and Kids Preferred (plush toys).

It narrowed its annual net loss to $4.9 million from $6 million a year ago. Annual licensing and royalty revenue increased 2% to $472 million on the strength of SpacePop. TV and home entertainment sales soared to $4.8 million from $356,150 due to the Netflix pact. Its merchandising program includes 65 licensees and more than 300 SKUs across its brands, which also include Baby Genius, Rainbow Rangers, Warren Buffet’s Secret Millionaire’s Club and Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab. It also has joint productions with Martha Stewart (“Marth Stewart & Friends”) and model Gisele Bundchen (“Gisele and the Green Team”).

Annual revenue from the Millionaire’s Club fell 33% due to changes in products and pricing, Genius said. Rainbow Rangers is slated to air this fall on Nickelodeon with Mattel as master toy licensee. Penguin USA’s Viking Books (publishing) and Bentex Group (apparel) also have Rainbow Rangers licensing agreements.


Genius Brands International, Andy Heyward, CEO, 310-273-4203,


Sonic Drive-In Begins Licensing

The 3,500-unit Sonic Drive-In QSR chain moves into licensing, signing deals with Jel-Sert (pudding mixes, gelatins), Ziegenfelder (frozen ice pops) and Quality Candy (lollipops, hard candy). The products borrow from Sonic’s drink flavors including cherry limeade and ocean water. The freezer novelties launched at Walmart and other mass retailers in March with other products expected to arrive by May. The agreements are the first since Brand Central Group began representing Sonic last year.


Brand Central Group, Jenna Markle, VP Licensing, 502-738-0855,



Earthbound Brands is representing Pioneer Woman as Ree Drummond’s brand seeks to expand and build on a Gibson Overseas’ cooking, kitchen and dinnerware exclusive at Walmart. Drummond also hosts a Food Network show and Sony Pictures has an option for a possible film based on Drummond’s book, “Black Heels to Tractor Wheels,” that details how she met her husband, Ladd Drummond, whose family has a 400,000-acre farm outside Pawhuska, OK, where Drummond operates The Pioneer Woman Mercantile store…. MHS Licensing is handling artists Emily Wood (Jetty Home) and Jen Montgomery. Wood is known for beach scenes, while Montgomery’s work features kitsch and flowers…


Earthbound Brands, Jack Dweck, CEO, 646-873-3800,

MHS Licensing, Marty Segelbaum, Pres., 952-544-1377,


J.M. Smucker to Buy Maker of Rachel Ray Dog Food

J.M. Smucker agrees to buy Ainsworth Pet Food for $1.7 billion, a deal that brings with it about $520 million in annual sales of licensed Rachel Ray Nutrish dog food. Ainsworth, which first licensed the Food Network star’s brand in 2007, has about $800 in total annual sales and recently expanded distribution of Nutrish to Petco.

Smucker also will seek to expand Nutrish’s business in cat food, a category it only recently entered (Inside Licensing March 23). Smucker’s pet food business has $2.1 billion in sales in the year ended April 30, 2017.

Smucker also said it’s weighing a sale of is baking products business, which includes the Pillsbury brand. Pillsbury, which Smucker acquired in 2004 as part of its purchase of International Multifood Corp., has an outbound licensing program with J&J Snack Foods for mini pies and churro bites.


J.M. Smucker, Mark Belgya, Chief Financial Officer, 330-682-3000,


Fitness Brands Expand Licensing

Fitness training Cross Fit and obstacle race operator Spartan brands are expanding their licensing efforts.

Meat processor Strauss Brands is extending the Cross Fit label into food with a free-range meat/chicken subscription box.

The $215 Cross Fit box, which contains 21 pieces of free-range chicken and grass-fed beef, tenderloin filets and ribeye, strip and sirloin steaks, started sales this week through Strauss’ web site, which was launched in February. The box is available in one-, two- or three-month subscriptions The products will be available in grocery stores in the fall. The deal is the first that IMG Licensing has struck since it started representing Cross Fit last year.

Meanwhile, Spartan Inc. is developing co-branded apparel with Craft Sportswear, which will be available in the U.S. this summer. Craft will deliver “Powered By” footwear in the U.S. in early 2019, expanding a line that was introduced in Europe last year. Spartan has a dozen other licensing agreements as it extends a brand tied to more than 200 races annually across 30 countries.


Craft Sportswear, Eric Schenker, CEO, 978-524-0032

Spartan Inc., Ian Lawson, VP Global Partnerships, 617-993-0788,
Strauss Brands, Randy Strauss, CEO, 414-421-5250

IMG Licensing, Gary Krakower, VP, 424-653-1900,


C-Life Group Readies Pepsi Apparel Exclusives for Forever 21, Ru-21

C-Life Group is digging into the Pepsi vault for exclusive apparel collections at Forever 21 and Ru-21. The Forever 21 assortment, featuring Pepsi logos from the 1990s, will feature seven-piece junior women’s (cropped t-shirts, jerseys) and five-piece young men’s (tee-shirts and racing-inspired jackets) merchandise and launch in May. At Ru-21, there will five styles of young men and junior’s t-shirts containing vintage logos and slogans, beginning in June.


C-Life Group, Connie Chang, Licensing Dir., 212-629-6996,

Joester Loria Group, Debra Joester, 212-683-5150 x302,



Changes at HMV: CEO Ian Topping to depart and be replaced by Retail Director Neil Taylor, following a six-month transition period; Rudy Osorio, formerly Head of Film and TV, is promoted to Commercial Director..  Mattel board member and former Maker Studios CEO Ynon Kreiz will be appointed Mattel Executive Chairman following the company’s annual meeting later this year, replacing former Mattel CEO Christopher Sinclair, who is retiring… Tomascz Sulej, ex-Hasbro, named Country Manager for Central and Eastern Europe at Planeta Junior, replacing Macieji Bednarzewski, who departed the company