Mad Beauty expands Disney licence into EMEA

Mad Beauty is building on its success in the UK market with Disney, expanding its partnership to include Europe, Middle East, Africa, Israel and Eastern Europe.

The London-based licensee has enjoyed dramatic UK growth over the past two years, partly due to the ‘Never too old for…’ ranges of licensed products which includes a number of Disney characters.

“Mad Beauty have been a pleasure to work with in the UK,” said Disney’s Samar Selby. “They have collaboratively grown our licensed business within the teen and adult consumer segment.

“They continue to bring fun, creativity and innovation to the category for Disney. We are so excited to be able to expand that now across the globe, where a clear demand for this product also exists.”

Trevor Cash, md of Mad Beauty, added: “Our Never Too Old range for Disney has been a huge success in the UK, with listings in most of the main high street and online retailers.

“As a result we are delighted that Disney have recognised that our designs will have a much broader appeal so they extended our contract to include the whole EMEA region.”


Puma signs Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola

PUMA has signed Manchester City FC Manager Pep Guardiola to a partnership agreement.

Guardiola will endorse PUMA products and lend his technical expertise to the Puma Football team to help develop future apparel and footwear. The deal follows the launch of PUMA’s first Manchester City product collection.

“I’m delighted to join the PUMA brand,” says Guardiola. “So much of my footballing philosophy and understanding of the game was influenced by Johan Cruyff, who was sponsored by PUMA, and I am proud to follow in his footsteps. I demand the highest levels of performance, and I am looking forward to helping shape the future of PUMA Football to meet the demands of today’s game.”

Guardiola had a 16-year playing career before becoming a manager. He has previously managed FC Barcelona and FC Bayern Munich. Throughout his managerial career, Guardiola has won 41 major honors.


Gillette, UEFA Champions League kick off smooth deal

Gillette, Procter & Gamble’s razor, shave and grooming brand, has signed a multiyear licensing deal with UEFA Champions League.

With an agreement that focuses predominantly on the UEFA Champions League competition, Gillette is preparing to launch a slew of new licensed products, from bespoke razors to shaving products, as well as launching initiatives in line with the partnership.

“Partnering with a global brand presents many benefits and opportunities for UEFA, and we are excited to see what the next few years hold,” says Guy-Laurent Epstein, marketing director, UEFA, in a conversation with Sport Business.

This is the first time the brand has collaborated with the European soccer governing body since 1970. The shaving brand recently partnered with Twitch for an esports and gaming partnership earlier this year.


Mattel enters the danger zone with Top Gun deal

Following the debut of the Top Gun: Maverick trailer at this year’s Comic-Con, Mattel has announced it has been named global toy partner for Paramount Pictures’ Top Gun franchise.

The deal will cover numerous categories including die-cast vehicles, playsets, games and other toys. Mattel’s new line will be inspired by scenes from both the ‘80s movie and the upcoming 2020 sequel.

“Top Gun: Maverick is one of the most anticipated movies next summer,” says Pam Kaufman, president, Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products. “The film has multi-generational appeal and lends itself to vehicle and roleplay toy categories. Top Gun: Maverick has all the ingredients to be a hit in theatres, as well as retail aisles.”

The line will be available globally ahead of the U.S. premiere of the film, which is scheduled to be released in June 2020.


Epic Games teases Fortnite collab with Uniqlo

Epic Games has given gaming fans a teaser of a new apparel collaboration with Uniqlo for the “Fortnite” franchise.

The video game studio teased the potential collaboration on its social media channels with the caption, “coming soon.” Epic’s announcement comes on the eve of the of the FIFA World Cup “Fortnite: competition. The biggest competition in the “Fortnite” esports field, the series offers $30 million as part of its prize pool.

For Uniqlo, a new partnership with Epic would continue its push into the gaming arena. The fashion company has previously partnered with studios such as Blizzard and Nintendo for t-shirt collaborations.


Sungate-Krantz ink Thelonious monk program

SunGate Partners and Krantz Media Group have joined forces to represent the Thelonious Monk estate across apparel, fashion accessories and more.

The comprehensive range will span apparel, fashion accessories, watches, eyewear, musical instruments and alcoholic spirits as well as music event experiences and content projects in the audio, podcast and television categories.

“Thelonious Monk was recognized not only as a musical genius but a man of great style and taste,” says David Graff, president, SunGate Partners. “‘Round Midnight’ is Monk’s quintessential piece and is the most-recorded jazz composition of all time. Monk also had a flair for the dramatic with a fashion style that people all over the world continue to admire and copy. This makes his brand an ideal candidate for a broad range of product categories including apparel, fashion accessories, alcoholic spirits and musical instruments.”

Monk was known for his musical compositions and for his distinctive look across suits, shoes, hats, and sunglasses.

“We are pleased to partner with SunGate Partners and KMG to help us introduce the Thelonious Monk brand to a new generation of consumers,” says Thelonious Sphere “T. S.” Monk III, the pianist’s son and renowned jazz drummer, composer and bandleader. “With SunGate and KMG, we have the right combination of music industry knowledge and product licensing experience to introduce the Thelonious Monk brand to a broad range of fans and consumers.”


6 Trends and Takeaways from Comic-Con

In addition to all the awesome swag, we left San Diego with a metaphorical loot bag chock full of insights. Lucky for you, we’re willing to share.

The key to brand longevity is a solid, devoted fanbase, and there is perhaps nowhere on Earth where fans are more visible than the annual San Diego Comic-Con International, which this year celebrated its 50th anniversary. Comic-Con presents the unique opportunity to be on the ground with the world’s uber-fans and see firsthand what brands and products they are responding to, in what has become a very crowded character and entertainment landscape. Here’s what we saw:

Snoopy Travels to the Moon

NASA (and Space Travel in General) is Having a Moment

Driven in large part by the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, fans and brands are showing a renewed interest not just in fictional space travel but the real deal. Peanut’s NASA collab got a pop-up museum/store in a prime location just outside the convention center, and NASA itself had a booth in the hall with a VR experience. NASA also hosted a number of panels about the organization’s ongoing search for extraterrestrial life and its efforts to send humans to Mars. As the Apollo 11 mission proved 50 years ago and the anniversary is reminding us, sometimes real-life feats of human bravery and accomplishment can be just as, if not more, exhilarating and unifying than those of fiction.

The Big Ones are Still Big

Star Wars Sith TrooperThe pure variety of characters and brands on display at Comic-Con can be a bit overwhelming, but for the most part the brands that made the most noise (and stood out in the crowded hall) were the familiar, studio mainstays: Star Wars (unveiled the new Sith Trooper from the forthcoming The Rise of Skywalker), Star Trek (made a big push for the upcoming origins series Picard), Avengers (made sure fans knew that Endgame is far from the end).

Given all this, the streamers’ presence felt subdued. Netflix’s Stranger Things and Umbrella Academy had some fan-driven buzz (with UA’s Klaus in particular appearing to be a favorite).  While the traditional studios spent big on splashy booths in the hall, the streamers seemed to focus more on content teasers (Netflix’s Dark Crystal in particular had people talking.) One notable exception was Amazon, which had a massive exterior activation located about a half mile from the convention center (free to everyone, not just CC attendees) to promote three upcoming shows: The Boys, Carnival Row and The Expanse.

The heavy focus on streamer content makes sense ­– originals are now crucial for these platforms with the competitive landscape expanding and studios pulling their back catalogs in-house as they launch their own streaming services.

Villains are the New Heroes

Villains Harley Quinn Comic-ConVillains have always been essential to any good plotline, but the glory tends to go to the heroes. Not so anymore though, as villains are increasingly getting the hero treatment in the form of coveted merch, cosplay tributes and standalone content.

A few examples: WB’s Suicide Squad featuring an entire crew of supervillains including Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang and Killer Croc is getting two follow-up films in the next two years; Marvel villain Loki was the inspiration behind the audience-selected winning dress at the annual Her Universe Comic Con fashion show this year; Angelina Jolie will return as Maleficent later this year; Avengers Endgame supervillain Thanos is getting major merch love in the form of toys, apparel, costumes and more.

We could go on and on, but you get the point. The complex, conflicted personas of some of the best bad guys are clearly hitting home with today’s audiences.

Star Trek Picard Museum

A Deep Storyline = Longevity

The most long-lasting brands are built within deep, intricate universes that can explored and mined for decades. Two of the best examples of this – Star Wars and Star Trek – both had great showcases this year. CBS’s Picard, which is set to premiere exclusively on the network’s All-Access streaming platform in early 2020, was featured in a special off-site museum that delved into the life of the starship captain complete with detailed descriptions and artifacts. Meanwhile, Disney had the whole show floor in a tizzy when it revealed an all-new stormtrooper, which will make its debut in the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – the Sith Trooper. The true brand-building power comes from the book series, that’s what keeps brands (and fanbases) alive in the fallow years between major TV/film releases, bridging the gaps in storylines and telling the before and after that fans are hungry for.

Licensing Takes a Prominent Place at the Fandom Feast

First Comic-ConNaturally after 50 years, things were going to change a little bit, but this year those changes were somehow more evident. About 15 years ago, Comic-Con started shifting from comics to pop culture. Now Comic-Con is celebration of fandom as lifestyle and a big part of that lifestyle is the merch that helps you express and celebrate your favorite brands. Enter licensing, which has helped to vastly increase the range and diversity of the types of products now available to fans on the Comic-Con show floor and at retail.

The t-shirt towers aren’t gone, but they are no longer the only show in town, as other merchants showcase eclectic merchandise like cereal, accessories, skateboards, sneakers and more.

Comic-Con Today Family Friendly

Throw in the fact that Comic-Con has now become a family affair with parents and children attending together, and you’ve got a bigger, more diverse fanbase than ever before eager for product to support their passion. This show featured more exclusive products than ever before and fans ate it up. We had reports from the the Borderlands and Star Trek exhibits that they sold every single piece of merch they brought to the show.

Where are the POD Players?

Given the fan-driven nature of Comic-Con, the major print-on-demand players should feel right at home on the show floor and yet they are nowhere to be found. We hear rumors that that is likely to change in future years, and that’s great news, because the fact is, the true essence of Comic-Con is kept alive by the artists. POD platforms have the opportunity to provide some structure and legitimacy in this space, to bring Comic-Con to the masses in a way, long after the convention center doors have closed.


Spuds Macenzie fetches hemp-infused dog treats

The ‘90s Budweiser spokesdog Spuds MacKenzie is back for a hemp-infused dog treat line from Spuds Ventures.

Spuds MacKenzie was a fictional dog character created for use in ads marketing Bud Light beer in the early ‘90s. At the time of the ads, Bud Light maker, Anheuser-Busch InBev, took heat for the character because advocates argued the dog was promoting alcohol to children.

The new version of Spuds is removed from the work of Anheuser-Busch InBev and Bud Light. Spuds Ventures’ version of the fictional pooch was adopted in 2019 from the Anti-Cruelty Society by the owner of the brand, Mark Thomann. Similar in name only, the dog is used to promote hemp-infused treats aimed at calming anxious pooches.

“I can’t say that I was much of a Bud Light drinker, but I certainly was a fan of Spuds,” says Thomann, in an interview with AdAge.

Spuds Ventures currently holds the trademark registrations for Spuds MacKenzie when it comes to various pet products. Anheuser-Busch holds the registrations for use in bars, beer gardens, pubs, restaurants, and taprooms, as well as on shirts, baseball caps and pajamas.


Kyrie Irving, Nike go under the sea with Spongebob

Nike and Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products have announced the launch of a new fashion line from NBA star Kyrie Irving and “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

The collection features five shoes inspired by the characters of the “SpongeBob” animated series. Nike’s line will also include apparel and accessories, including t-shirts, a hoodie, socks and backpacks.

Spongebob’s new gear comes during the 20th anniversary of the longstanding kid’s shows.  During that time, the character has influenced the world of fashion with collaborations with Marlou Breuls and Chinatown Market.

“What makes our collaboration with Kyrie and Nike so special is that we are celebrating SpongeBob’s 20th Anniversary with one of SpongeBob’s biggest genuine fans,” says Jose Castro, senior vice president and head of global collaborations, VNCP. “Everything from the characters Kyrie chose and how they were designed into the line was done from a true fan’s perspective, and it shows. The sneakers, clothes and accessories became extensions of SpongeBob’s world, and we know fans everywhere will love this collection, just as much as we loved creating it with Kyrie.”

The Kyrie x “SpongeBob SquarePants” collection will be available in adult and kid’s sizes starting Aug. 10 on and in-store. In Europe, the merchandise will also be available at Kickz stores.