Coping with Covid in India

Apocalypse! Twilight zone! Back to the future! Call it by whichever metaphor you want! The COVID-19 pandemic is considered as the most crucial global health calamity of the century and the greatest challenge that the world has faced since the 2nd World War. So far, the virus has affected over 15.7 Mn people globally and killed more than half a million people in more than 200 countries throughout the world. In order to save lives and stem the virus, many countries chose to lock-down movement of its citizens since early/mid-March and the economies of many countries were consequently impacted and continue to be impacted in varying degrees. As the number of cases keeps climbing, governments are faced with the dilemma of deciding between lives and livelihoods. Here in India, while the virus hasn’t spread as wildly as other countries (inspite of our large population), the economy has never the less taken a beating and the retail industry which was projected to grow to $ 1.1 trillion by 2020 was probably the largest casualty of the multiple lockdowns after aviation and travel & tourism. Except for essential goods, all retail outlets including modern trade centres like malls and other single brand stores were ordered to remain shut and corporate offices were asked to encourage employees to work from home. While there was a reasonable amount of panic among employees as the lockdown kept getting extended, companies large and small started exploring other ways to extend a helping hand through this unprecedented crisis. Another unnerving statistic doing the rounds on news channels was that for each month there will be an approximate loss of 2% points in annual GDP growth. We decided to get beyond the doomsday WhatsApp messages and get a feel for what the Indian licensing industry had to say. So, we circulated a brief questionnaire to a few key executives in the licensing business about how they have been coping with the Covid-19 pandemic and are managing to stay afloat during these trying times.


We are thankful to Akhil Jain Executive Director – Jain Amar Clothing Private Limited, Samir Jain, Chief Operating Officer, Green Gold Studios, Susmita SinghDeo GM – Dream Theatre India Pvt. Ltd., Shipra Dubey – GM – Brand Licensing, Bradford License India and Bhavik Vora, Founder & CEO, Black White Orange Brands Private Limited, for sharing their perspectives with us. We are still awaiting responses from a few more and will append the same in due course.

Q1: Given the ambivalence over the retail landscape and the lockdown relaxation getting pushed back repeatedly, what does your company’s game-plan look like?


Akhil Jain feels there is no confusion, but the situation looks far from predictable. Retail sales across brick and mortar has been hit to the tune of 70%, while e-commerce hasn’t compensated a significantly against depleted offline sales. As a licensor, JACPL are not looking at brand extensions for next 3 quarters. As a licensee, they have negotiated with the licensors to defer the royalties to 2021 along with extensions in the licensing period.


Sameer Jain shares this sentiment. with the slowdown in retail sales , Green Gold Studio’s approach will be to support the licensees and stand by them, help them in surviving this tough period.


Bhavik Vora believes everything right now is dynamic, fluid and evolving on a daily basis so it’s very difficult to plan especially if major launches are in the pipeline. BWO are currently focusing on e-commerce to reach out to the fans and service those demands. Outside of that, they are currently working with their partners and licensees to ramp up distribution in parts of India which are less affected and probably have similar demand for the merchandise. This is opening up new avenues, customers and distribution points for their brands.


Shipra expresses her deep concern for all those companies who’s balance sheets are cracking under the weight of the virus. She also adds while they are all gradually adjusting to the new version of ‘normal,’ Bradford  is beyond grateful to be providing calls, Webinars, Emails, any assistance to the global brand licensing industry, so that their partners are able to continue their business operations from their homes despite the worldwide call to action to flatten the COVID-19 infection rate curve. Hence their focus has been going more and more digital. Their core business is a traditional business of meet and greet which has not completely shifted to being an online version of it. They are now focusing on their ecommerce partners more. They have signed an EMOJI apparel Deal with Myntra during this tenure and few more and they are planning to continue with the same strategy.


Sushmita Singh adds for Dream Theatre, the licensing representation business is a big challenge currently, as barring necessities like food, beverage and personal products,  the other licensed categories are dormant with retail being in shut down mode. While they wait for the return of the representation business Dream Theatre to get restarted, their focus was on addressing the needs of the hour and intersecting it with a relevant licensed brand in their stable. They tied up with one of their licensors, Smiley, to launch high quality N95 masks that are available on all major platforms online and offline . (More info at They linked it to a cause whereby a percentage of sales went to an NGO  supporting the underprivileged affected by the pandemic and have collected INR 431,320 (USD 6000/- approx.) for the cause. They are focusing on Liverpool Football Club which were crowned EPL Champions 2020 and are the biggest football club in Europe with a massive fan following. They are signing up licensees and working on roll outs. The roll outs may take time but the intent of licensees is big basis the club’s  performance .


Our second focus is more direct to consumer models via online platforms, both via our own brands and licensed brands.


And finally, their content vertical is stable with content being played across Disney, Amazon Prime and Netflix.



Q2: Has there been any shift in the business model?

“No” says Akhil Jain, but it is skewing more towards E-commerce and Omni-channel sales. As lesser customers want to physically “flock to the markets”, the retailers are trying to reach the consumer in every way possible.


According to Samir Jain their focus is now on Licencing essential and health care products, the traditional kids categories have taken a back seat till situation is back to normal.


Bhavik Vora feels the business model has shifted in a way that other verticals at BWO have started contributing more than L&M at this point, which used to be their key driver. Factors like retail and movie releases have had an impact on the product business but they are hopeful things will come back to pre-covid levels. Having said that, they have been able to concentrate on their other business verticals which have been growing since the last couple of years and will have a significant contribution on their business this year. This period has given them time to think of innovations and various strategies to grow their company as well as the L&M business in India.


Shipra adds While the modus operandi remains the same its more digital now.  Zoom and Microsoft meetings are a rage these days. Earlier Skype was the only medium used, and honestly, we at Bradford relied more on the face to face meetings. But now the everyday morning huddles are on zoom. From the serious discussions on numbers and revenue to meeting each other pets Video calls have been our savior.




Q3: What is driving that shift?

Akhil Jain clearly puts it down to 3 key factors.

  1. Fear among consumers on the health front
  2. Change in consumer preference (in almost every category)
  3. Change in aspirations (though for a short-term)


Samir Jain has a different perspective. He believes as a brand it’s their responsibility to contribute towards educating children and parents towards the dos and don’ts to handle COVID , this is driving the shift. Further he notes that It’s a moral responsibility of any brand to stand up and contribute to the society in times of crisis.


Bhavik Vora is of the opinion that the shift is being primarily driven by the consumers. The mindset of all businesses as well as customers has changed over the past few months as a result of the pandemic. There is a large majority that has seen a shift in spending dynamics, compassion in helping the community and the idea of being open to new innovations.


Shipra is of the opinion that fear to sustain is the greatest drive. She is sure this is a phase where the deepest concern that all of us have is the sales, the revenue. Since we can’t do much about it, it is better we use the time to prepare a plan instead. While the licensee can plan how to ramp up the 3rd quarter the brand can plan its marketing, social media, branding activities, etc.




Q4: What do you think agencies, & or licensors should be doing?


Akhil Jain is emphatic in his response. He would like licensors to extend assistance to licensees for extension of periods in agreements.


Samir Jain recommends focussing on using innovative methods of communication through their brands to fight the pandemic.


Bhavik Vora is already in action mode. He informs us that most of their licensors and them, have jointly decided to, give their full support to licensees and work with them closely to ensure they have multiple plans in place for different scenarios with regards to liquidity, working capital & inventory impact on the business. He believes this is a time to come together and plan the best possible outcome to benefit the business.


Shipra has a more pragmatic view the Licensees should refrain from sending out a request for seeking relief from MGs that are due in the 3rd or 4th quarters. Understand that along with you the brand is also struggling with the business. So instead of thinking about Oct/ Dec  MGs its better we focus now. Likewise, if the payments are due in July / Sept the Licensors should be more flexible to postpone this and regroup for the business discussion by Aug again.

The agencies, should definitely try to bridge the gap to amicably resolve



Q5: If you have a Point of View who do you think is getting it right, who’s getting it wrong?


Samir Jain observes literally everyone is back to the drawing board and each one should device their own strategy to ensure survival of the brand and business.


Bhavik Vora is upfront in his assessment. He believes there is no right or wrong that anyone is doing right now, everyone is trying to hustle and get the wheel moving by trying new things/models or pivoting into new businesses.  He explains goes on to explain – some obvious categories have emerged out of this crisis and a lot of action is happening in that space, but this pandemic has changed a lot of things for the long term and it is important that businesses think about that too, along with keeping the business afloat in the short term.


Shipra believes everyone in their own way is trying hard to sustain and grow. In these difficult times where even the most distributed companies- are all trying to manage the work situation.

She observes it’s great to see how people with different cultures, spread out around the globe, are joining together to collaborate for a shared business Goal.

She concludes Bradford has pitched and are discussing deals that are way different from Licensing, collaboration, Events, Celeb promotion to name a few. Hence difficult times have given everyone food for thought to plan respective plan B and pivot quickly.


As the world waits for a speedy end to this pandemic and a return to normalcy, we wish our entrepreneurs holding forte all the best. They are truly an embodiment of the American witticism – When the going gets tough, the tough get going! Kudos & much respect!

Virat Kohli’s apparel line WROGN joins hands with Animal Planet to creatively shine light on the cause of endangered species

USPL’s apparel line Wrogn, in association with India’s leading wildlife channel Animal Planet, is launching a new collection – Animal Planet X WROGN. The apparel range aims to shine light on the cause of endangered species in a never-before-seen-or-done manner. Conceptualised by Black White Orange, Animal Planet’s licensing arm, each style in the range portrays an endangered animal including the Tiger, Sea Turtle, Gorilla, Sumatran Elephant and Panda, amongst others.

“I’ve been associated with Wrogn since inception and we take some exciting initiatives season after season. I couldn’t be happier that Wrogn is taking a step in the direction of creating awareness around animal endangerment.” Said, Virat Kohli, the face of WROGN.



Speaking about the collaboration, Megha Tata Managing Director – South Asia, Discovery, said, “Animal Planet has been striving hard to drive attention towards the importance of saving the endangered species in impactful ways. We are confident that this innovative collaboration with WROGN for this inspirational apparel line will help in spreading the message of conservation of endangered species as well as the wildlife.”


Speaking about the collaboration, Anjana Reddy – CEO, Universal Sportsbiz Pvt. Ltd said, “Animal endangerment is real. It’s a pressing issue and I’m aware that it really bothers the youth all over the world. We like the essence of this collaboration with Animal Planet as it enables people to wear their cause that they feel so strongly about and spread the word at the same time. The Rorschach art design is very interesting and hard to miss.”


Adds Bhavik Vora, Founder & CEO, Black White Orange Brands Pvt. Ltd, “In the tough times the world is going through, it is important to build something relevant. What better way to spread awareness on endangered species among the youth of today, than collaborate with leading players in the segment – WROGN and Animal Planet. We worked closely with the Animal Planet team for almost a year, to conceptualize the art that you see on the range and it’s fantastic to see it come to life.”


The Animal Planet X WROGN apparel will be available in over 250 counters across retail channels like Shoppers Stop, Central, Pantaloons, WROGN’s exclusive stores, and on

“Time’s up for the Hamster Wheel workplace” – Lesley Jane Seymour

Last evening’s ScreenSide chat featured Lesley Jane Seymour and Maura J. Regan. Lesley is a veteran of the publishing business and an accomplished leader having run magazines like Marie Claire and More. She consults with industry leaders from various verticals including banking, fashion, beauty, publishing and businesses who want to speak directly to the consumer through events, advertising and digital products.

She also founded the an online-offline organisation for life long learners who are re-inventing themselves and grow their businesses. Lesley spoke freely about her early years in the publishing business where she had to deal with dual bosses who were not on the same page. In such situations her advice is to approach personnel and have a free and frank discussion with them instead of being coy and sweeping stuff under the carpet. She advised leaders in organisations to protect and fight for their teams. Thats the least they could do for all the hours they put in. Being a working mum herself, Lesley understood first hand how difficult it is for working women to manage home and work. She felt post the pandemic it’s unlikely that the workplace will be the same again. Employers might want to consider offering their employees a more flexible routine which could actually lead to improved productivity. On asking her about her One Big prediction for the post Covid Workplace, she said people from all departments and silos would need to come together and re-define the “hamster wheel” type scenario, because that is surely passe. Lesley and her team are keen to convene a think tank around the same. Stay tuned to Licensing International for more. To view the full webinar head to the webinars section of licensing

BFF’s Betty & Veronica in a global collab with Kate Spade

If you were a child of the 80’s or 90’s in India, chances are you were exchanging Archies comics with your friends during school periods.

Archie, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, Jughead & Big Moose were not fictional characters but gradually became real life friends you could go to, to get your broken heart mended or laugh out loud with. Created by Jon Goldwater & Bob Montana, they were in many ways the original F-R-I-E-N-D-S.


Kate Spade is counting on this nostalgia to drive up sales for their special collaboration with Archie Comics Publications. However for this collection they have chosen just the ladies Betty & Veronica. “When you think of best friends, the first people that come to mind are Betty and Veronica,” says Jon Goldwater, chief executive officer and publisher, Archie Comics. “Having the chance to partner with Kate Spade for this amazing collaboration is a dream, and Betty and Veronica are a perfect match for the Kate Spade New York brand.” The collection includes classic tote bags, hand bags, laptop accessories. We are not sure about delivery to India, but we are sure die hard Betty & Veronica fans will find friends in New York to score them some of the booty. Check out


Sign Up for [Virtual] Camp!

This time last year, most parents were prepping their kids to attend their favorite sleepaway camp or planning a family vacation. But with COVID-19, most summer plans have been scrapped and while the quarantine boredom-busting activities of the spring – such as baking and board games – were fine to fill up the time between Zoom classes… there’s only so much banana bread one can make.

Depending on where you live, sleepaway and day camps are running with a focus on small groups and social distancing. However, more broadly, virtual camps are now in session. Here are a handful of companies hosting virtual camps for pre-K and preteens.

  • This week, Camp by Walmart launched its free virtual camp with interactive video platform Eko. Activity videos featuring celebrity councilors such as actors Neil Patrick Harris, Idina Menzel, Drew Barrymore, and athlete LeBron James are uploaded to the platform every week.
  • On Monday, July 14, The Wiggles and Rascal + Friends will host a two-week virtual summer camp for toddlers and their parents. Hosted by Emma Wiggle and Captain Feathersword, the program includes arts, crafts, singing, dancing and prizes.
  • Camp PBS Kids now offer the preschool set free, downloadable activity books and reading lists, as well as how-to videos ranging from art to science featuring PBS Kids characters Daniel Tiger, Dinosaur Train and more.
  • The activities at Girl Scouts Adventures at Home marketplace change weekly, but topics include STEM, cooking and wildlife, grouped by grade level. Campers can do several Girl Scout-approved activities off-screen and outside (with supervision). While the virtual camp marketplace has a weekly membership fee for the courses, there are free activities available on the Girl Scouts’ website.

Inevitably, kids are going to complain about having “nothing to do” as summer goes on. Yet, in this unprecedented year, parents now have these new projects in their arsenal to combat kids’ boredom – from home.

And for parents, how will they spend their newfound freetime while the kids are at virtual camp? Well, there’s always Club Quarantine.


Champion gets its groove on with MTV

LicenseSource.Net reports on a groovy retro collab between youth culture brands, Champion (HanesBrands) and MTV to celebrate the 90’s.

The range includes crew necks shirts, tanks and jackets for men and women’s bodycon and onesies in bright colors and retro prints.

Sharing his views on the collab, David Robertson, director of global brand marketing at Champion said, “In partnering with MTV, the ambition was to create a dynamic collection that embraces the authenticity of our brands and our mutual respect and admiration for hip-hop culture. We felt it made perfect sense for these two brands to partner on a nostalgic collection that highlights the intersection of fashion and music.”

Both companies decided to rope in rapper Jadakiss to front the collab.

David added: “Both Champion and MTV defined a generation with key influences on street style, and we wanted to pay homage to that while continuing to influence a new generation of consumers.

“We designed the collection to pay tribute to both Champion and MTV with retro looks, bright colors and iconic prints. We hope this partnership brings joy to those inspired by the Nineties while bringing modern looks that introduce an essential piece of fashion and music history to today’s consumer.”

Disney+ Hotstar Multiplex launches 24th July

Mumbai: After its successful launch in India, Disney+ Hotstar is set to revolutionize the way hundreds of millions of Indians watch movies with the launch of Disney+ Hotstar Multiplex. As the nation inches towards normalcy, India’s largest video service brings the magic of Bollywood blockbusters and its biggest stars directly to millions of smartphones across the country.

Starting July 24, 2020 Disney+ Hotstar Multiplex is set to premier 7 of the most-awaited movies of 2020 featuring India’s most loved actors, including Akshay Kumar and Kiara Advani in Laxmmi Bomb, Ajay Devgn, Sonakshi Sinha and Sanjay Dutt in Bhuj: The Pride of India, late Sushant Singh Rajput, Sanjana Sanghi and Saif Ali Khan in Dil Bechara, Sanjay Dutt, Alia Bhatt, Aditya Roy Kapur and Pooja Bhatt in Sadak 2, Abhishek Bachchan in The Big Bull, Vidyut Jammwal in Khuda Haafiz and Kunal Kemmu and Rasika Dugal in Lootcase amongst others.

Disney+ Hotstar Multiplex will usher in a new re-imagined ‘first-day first-show’ for Bollywood fans, by treating them to the most anticipated movies of superstars like Akshay Kumar & Ajay Devgn being delivered directly to their mobiles; truly experiencing ‘First Day First Show ki home delivery’. Existing subscribers of Disney+ Hotstar Premium and Disney+ Hotstar VIP can enjoy these blockbuster movies at no additional cost to their existing subscription. Non-subscribers can simply purchase an annual membership of Disney+ Hotstar VIP at INR 399/- to catch all these movies, and also enjoy exclusive Hotstar Specials, the world’s biggest Super Hero movies & kids favourite characters in Hindi, Tamil & Telugu, unlimited LIVE sports and much more – making it the best entertainment service in the country!

The first movie of Disney+ Hotstar Multiplex will be Dil Bechara, starring late Sushant Singh Rajput; and to commemorate his invaluable contribution to Hindi cinema, this movie will be available to all subscribers and non-subscribers of Disney+ Hotstar.

Uday Shankar
Uday Shankar

Uday Shankar – President, The Walt Disney Company APAC and Chairman, Star & Disney India, saidAt Disney+ Hotstar, we firmly believe in pushing boundaries to achieve the unexpected. A few years ago, we took an audacious step of bringing sports closer to people by streaming it LIVE on mobile devices – a move that forever changed the course of LIVE sports in India. Today as we launch Disney+ Hotstar Multiplex, we find ourselves yet again at the cusp of making a revolutionary change by bringing the biggest Bollywood movies directly to millions across the country. We are happy to partner with the best directors and most talented actors; and provide them with a platform to present their masterpieces.”

Speaking about this initiative and its effect on the overall industry, he further added, “Theatres are a special experience. So, they will always exist and thrive. But the potential of the industry can’t be capped by the number of release windows and theatres available. Our initiative will dramatically increase the number of films that can be made, giving film-lovers more films to enjoy and the creative community more films to make. We firmly believe that this will generate a massive momentum for more and different kinds of films to be made in India. It’s a win-win for all.”

Starting 24th July, Disney+ Hotstar VIP is set to release a gamut of movies across genres

  • Laxmmi Bomb (horror comedy) starring Akshay Kumar and Kiara Advani. Directed by Raghava Lawrence, producers: Cape of Good Films, Tusshar Kapoor, Shabinaa Khan and Fox Star Studios
  • Bhuj: The Pride of India (war-action film, based on a true story) starring Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt, Sonakshi Sinha, Ammy Virk, and Sharad Kelkar. The film is written & directed by Abhishek Dudhaiya and produced by Bhushan Kumar, Ginny Khanuja, Vajir Singh and Kumar Mangat Pathak, under the banners of T-Series and Select Media Holdings LLP.
  • Sadak 2 (a love saga & sequel to the Iconic blockbuster ‘Sadak’ which released in 1991) starring Sanjay Dutt, Alia Bhatt, Aditya Roy Kapur and Pooja Bhatt, Jisshu Sengupta, Makarand Deshpande, Mohan Kapoor, Gulshan Grover, Priyanka Bose and John Gardener. The film has been directed by Mahesh Bhatt, Written by Suhrita Sengupta & Mahesh Bhatt, Cinematography by Jay Patel and Produced by Mukesh Bhatt
  • The Big Bull – The man who sold dreams to India (crime drama) starring Abhishek Bachchan, Ileana D’Cruz, Nikita Dutta, Soham Shah, Ram Kapoor, Supriya Pathak and Saurabh Shukla. The film is directed by Kookie Gulati, produced by Ajay Devgn and Anand Pandit, and co-produced by Kumar Mangat Pathak and Vikrant Sharma.
  • Dil Bechara (remake of The Fault In Our Stars) starring late Sushant Singh Rajput, Sanjana Sanghi, Saif Ali Khan, Saswata Chatterjee, Swastika Mukherjee and Sahil Vaid. The film is directed by Mukesh Chhabra; with Hindi adaptation by Suprotim Sengupta and Shashank Khaitan, and  Produced by Fox Star Studios.
  • Khuda Haafiz (romantic action thriller inspired by real-events) starring Vidyut Jammwal, Anuu Kapoor, Shivaleeka Oberoi, Shiv Panditt and Aahana Kumra. The film is written & directed by Faruk Kabir and produced by Kumar Mangat Pathak and Abhishek Pathak (Panorama Studios International).
  • Lootcase (comedy thriller) starring Kunal Kemmu, Rasika Dugal, Gajraj Rao, Ranvir Shorey and Vijay Raaz. The film is Directed by Rajesh Krishnan, written by Rajesh Krishnan and Kapil Sawant, Produced by Fox Star Studios and Soda Films.