Jeremy Scott, Danielle Nicole, Schutz and more are on board for a collaboration between the retailer and classic gaming franchise.
NORTH AMERICA–Nintendo has partnered with Bloomingdale’s for a spring campaign inspired by the “Super Mario” franchise.
Dubbed Let’s Play, the collaboration will see imagery and themes from the popular video game franchise displayed across a variety of men’s and women’s goods including t-shirts, handbags and sneakers from designers such as Marc Jacobs, Danielle Nicole, Schutz and more.
To celebrate the new theme, the department store will also host a series of in-store events and activations on March 10, which is also known as Mario Day.
The Let’s Play collection will be available at all Bloomingdale’s locations and online at Bloomingdales.com. A full-scale launch–including gaming stations and classic games–will take place at the retailer’s SoHo location in New York City next month.
BR/K.Love-18 will highlight the retailer’s heritage and Love’s favorite performance pieces.
NORTH AMERICA–Banana Republic has expanded its partnership with brand ambassador and basketball star Kevin Love for a new design collaboration inspired by the athlete’s personal style.
The fall 2018 capsule collection, named BR/K.Love-18, builds on a three-year partnership with a new capsule collection that aims to celebrate Banana Republic’s heritage and Love’s favorite performance pieces through a new line of men’s clothing and accessories.
“I jumped at the opportunity to evolve my partnership with Banana Republic and was honored to team up with them to create a fall collection,” says Love, who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers. “This is an incredible opportunity for me to express myself and reflect my personal fashion sense, which I describe as classic, tailored and versatile.”
To celebrate the launch, Love hosted meet-and-greets over the All-Star Weekend, Feb. 16-18, at his alma-mater University of California, Los Angeles, and at an in-store event at The Grove shopping center in L.A.
The BR/K.Love-18 collection will launch this September.
Players have the opportunity to play for cash prizes and more.
NORTH AMERICA–Rovio Entertainment has partnered with competition platform GSN Games’ WorldWinner for a new game featuring “Angry Birds.”
The new game, dubbed “Angry Birds Champions,” will offer a cash tournament version of the “Angry Birds” game and will allow players to participate in official monetized competitions that feature the art and sounds of the original mobile game. Players will also have the opportunity to play in two tournament formats (best of three and progression mode) and enjoy new features such as swap power ups and varied levels.
To celebrate its new game, WorldWinner is hosting a $10,000 “Angry Birds Champions” Sweepstakes, which kicked off on Feb. 19.
IndiaLicensingPost.com caught up with Siddharth Chury – NBA: (Senior Director, Global Merchandising & Licensing – NBA India) to get his insights on the NBA’s plan for India & more specifically his take on sports licensing in India.
You can either listen to the conversation at the bottom of the page or have a read!
1. Do you believe the sports licensing business has come of age in India?
I would say completely. In fact, there is a huge potential lying unlocked. But even as we sit today, think about it, licensing in India used to be typically entertainment licensing and that’s it.Over the last few years, sports licensing has emerged as another strong pillar and has grown by leaps and bounds over the last 8-10 years. The way we look at it, it’s been spurred by exposure to a lot of international properties in India. Football leagues, basketball leagues, properties from the US, properties from Europe because they’ve been exposing India to their content, building their fanbase and eventually have started establishing their licensing programs. So that what’s led to the growth. Interestingly while at a content level we’ve seen a lot of local properties become big from a broadcast standpoint, on the merchandising side we’ve seen, the global properties still rule the roost. From an aspiration perspective and from a consumption perspective, brands – soccer, basketball or any other sport you look at have a much more robust licensing programme in the country.
2. Tell us a little about the NBA journey in India over the last 5-7 years that you guys have been here? What does your target audience look like?
Basketball is the 2nd fastest growing sport in India. Similarly, in the last 5-7 years have delivered tremendous growth for NBA as well. As an example, our fanbase has grown to over 13 million fans. Even on social media, we’ve grown to more than 7 Mn fans. We are talking highly engaged fans! The NBA is one of the most engaging sports pages on social media, especially on Facebook. We’ve got the maximum number of fans liking, sharing, talking to us – which is a great learning for us that we are doing a lot of things right and we know which direction we want to take this in. In broadcast, we are up to 14 live games that we are showing every week, so that’s 2 LIVE games every day. We used to show a few games a week earlier which has now grown to this level.Even if you look at our grass root level program which was started in 250 odd schools, now goes to close to 5000 schools across 35 cities across the country. On every aspect, the NBA has seen growth. If you take merchandising, we started by just activating global licensees in India then started signing on local licensees. Now we have 20-25 partners across categories – gaming, fashion, toys, back to school etc. Even nbastore.in which is our official merchandise store in partnership with Jabong has grown by leaps and bounds. Last year sales were 6 times that of when we started. It’s still a very young business. It is not just consumption, but also reach that has grown manifold – to give you an example in 2016 we delivered to approx 450 cities & towns in the country. We ended 2017 delivering to 730 cities & towns – which gives you a sense of how in a very short span of time, NBA is reaching to the nooks and corners of the country.
Our core consumer is the youth & the young adult. The ones that are adopting basketball at an early age and are trendsetters in their community. They are the ones we are targeting, whether it’s our content or the on-ground activations, whether it’s our product lines – we keep this target consumer in mind. Even for our licensed merchandise – the fan wear is extremely attractive, vibrant colors, big bold graphics this is what the young consumer is looking for. Even a polo from the NBA range will not be a basic old guy’s polo. It will have some appliqué, some print, an athletic fit – something that makes it the product for the youth. We are constantly ensuring that we are addressing that young fan.And for that reason, we also want to ensure our fan wear remains affordable and reasonably priced.
3. How do you sell/license a brand like NBA in a cricket-crazy country like India?
Over the last 8-10 years, we’ve been noticing that the youth are looking for sports other than cricket. Not just for playing, but for following and becoming a fan of. This isn’t only true for urban areas but semi-urban as well. Leisure time, recreational spaces, attention spans are all shrinking in the country. The youth are looking for sports which can be played in a smaller place in a shorter amount of time. And literally, you play basketball for 1-1.5 hours a day and you are done. That’s the kind of high energy, high impact sports that they are gravitating to. Which is why football and basketball are the fastest growing sports these days. Given this change in the youth itself, it’s no longer difficult to sell other sports to them. The country has made a conscious shift towards becoming a multi-sport country, which is why if you see Khelo India initiative by the government of India & the national games, that’s also promoting the concept of playing multiple sports. So it’s no longer a single sports country and no longer a challenge to sell the NBA to cricket fans because there are enough of them looking for sports other than cricket.
Is piracy a huge problem for you?
Not really. We have seen stray cases in India and we have a very strong legal mechanism to nip it in its bud. They find out where it’s happening, seize goods and manage to keep it in check.
4. Given that all the games happen very early in the morning India time, how impactful is TV coverage in the entire mix?
Content & TV are key pillars of our business. That’s what our fans are consuming the most. In fact, in the morning, we’ve seen there is minimal clutter, except for the stray India Australia series. So in the morning timeslot, there’s really not much else happening. So, we see that as an advantage. In fact, we value that fan a lot more as he has taken the effort to switch to the game while getting ready to go to college or work even if it’s for a few minutes. Basketball has so many celebratory moments almost every second. You watch 5 mins of basketball you’ve seen 5 dunks, 3 great steals, one great block – so even if you’ve watched it for just 5 minutes, you walk away wowed by it. Over a period of time, we’ve actually built this appointment viewing, the fans know if they turn on Sony in the mornings, they get to watch some great NBA games, and that’s worked really well for us. And apart from the morning games we have a lot of content which plays out during the week, like the NBA weekly recap show, or the daily highlights package which airs in the evenings; so there’s enough content which encourages people to get a taste of the NBA, and then tune in the morning to get the big grand LIVE experience.
5. Tell us about some of the innovative ways you’ve used to reach the NBA fan-base in India?
The Fanbase in India is quite varied, and we need different approaches for different fans. Every season we decide on key focus areas. This year we are making a concerted effort widen the fanbase by moving into the hinterland of India, now that we have a secure footing in urban areas. We’ve already started with LIVE Hindi commentary games. Every weekend we have local celebrities coming in and doing Hindi commentary. There will be a Hindi campaign which will be launching after NBA All-Star targeted specifically to these regions. The plan is to rope in local influencers and also create immersive content which mixes basketball and local culture for new fans to adopt the game. Another key initiative is Fantasy gaming – while we go out acquiring new fans we want to engage with existing fans in a stronger way. Fantasy games give them a chance to play along, choose their players, choose their team and win based on their performance. We’ve tied up with a company called Dream 11 which is the largest fantasy gaming company in India. Fans playing fantasy games tend to consume 40% more content so it’s a great win-win scenario. The 3rd is our NBA App which has been revamped for India – much lighter on bandwidth usage – keeping in mind a large part of our fans might have very basic to mid-level smartphones – to ensure easy access. That’s what led to the great adoption in last 3 months. It’s also a great way to get immediate consumer feedback. There’s no commerce happening on it yet – currently it links out to the NBAStore.in to purchase. Currently purely focussed on content and give fans a chance to talk back to us.
6. MNC’s historically have learned to customize their offering for India from McDonald’s to the Pepsi’s of the world. DO you have that liberty? Would you want to?
Localisation or customization is very important to become more relevant in different markets in the world and we too are looking into it. The core of our business is our game. It’s the pinnacle of basketball. The best athletes play in the NBA, and the way the game is packaged and presented to the audience stays the same. We leave that untouched. That’s core to us. Everything around it we are open to customizing. As I earlier mentioned, Hindi commentary is something we did a pilot last season and this year are going full steam, with over 80 games being delivered with Hindi commentary. Apart from that we have locally produced content – e.g. wrap-around show called Around the Hoop airs on the weekend and covers a detailed analysis of the games played to educate Indian viewers on the finer nuances of the game and demystify the jargon.We also have a lifestyle show called NBA Hangout which is in Hinglish and features a host of celebrities and influencers. Even Junior NBA has been tweaked for India. globally it’s more of a youth engagement and competition program. But in India, the focus is more on coaching. It’s all about grassroots level training being undertaken. The objective is to train the maximum number of coaches as possible. NBA League pass is another initiative to allow fans to watch all the games at a very affordable price point.Within 3 months we’ve got 6 times the subscribers that we had last year. So we are seeing our localization efforts bear fruit.
7. Your biggest learning – I come from traditional sports merchandising background so getting into licensing – biggest learning selling the brand at the B2B and B2C level. Gauging the value of your brand is important. What are you going to the market with? And this too varies with the category. For example, an apparel licensing deal would probably find the NBA IP a lot more lucrative than say a personal care products deal. It’s a constant learning – to keep figuring what your brand value is.
and pet peeve – we have data to show huge NBA affinity and fandom in the country – but often the middlemen (licensees, distributors, retailers) don’t have visibility of the end consumer and don’t always share in the overall vision of the company. Correcting these perceptions is one of my biggest challenges in India.
8. You launched the NBA Basketball school program in association with India On Track last year as well as the NBA Academy to build on India’s existing infrastructure to nurture the next Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant could you tell us a little about these initiatives? Any key learnings to highlight?
According to the BFI, basketball is the second fastest growing sport in India and we are committed to growing the game of basketball. Over the years, we’ve built our very own pyramid for the Basketball ecosystem. Starting with the Junior NBA program at basic level across 5000 schools, the NBA schools for talented students who get more advanced training, ACG NBA Jump program nationwide for talent spotting with open try-outs at 6-8 centers; and the top of the pyramid is NBA Academy. It’s India’s 1st world class residential sports academy program. The carefully selected top young players in the country get a full scholarship on-campus –basketball training, strength, and conditioning, nutrition, life skills as well as academics etc. are all taken care of by the NBA. Our hope is that some of these kids make it to the global stage and eventually get recruited into the NBA. And we’ve seen our efforts starting to pay off with the youngsters who started in Junior NBA program going on to make it to the NBA Academy – so the model is working. On the other hand, we also have players like Satnam Singh – first Indian to be drafted into the NBA, and Amjot Singh who is currently playing with the Oklahoma City G league team. Now, these are again home-grown athletes who act as an inspiration to the youth of the country and help take basketball in India to the next level.
9. When do you think an athlete is “license ready?” Any Indian players on the radar?
There are a couple of factors: has the athlete transcended the sport to become a cross-cultural icon to be able to change perceptions? Are you popular enough that people will pay to buy their merchandise? Today athletes have entire teams to carefully curate their public persona and target a specific set of fans. Indian basketball players will need a little more time to get to that big stage.
10. Lastly your piece of advice to international brands looking to tap the Indian market?
1. A brand needs to time the market correctly. Do your research, study social and cultural indicators to gauge demand for the brand.
2. Be very clear about your expectations – short term or long term.
11. Have you watched an NBA game LIVE? Tell us more about your experience.
I have been blessed to see quite a few NBA games LIVE across various arenas – regular season games, playoffs, NBA All-Star, NBA Playoffs, NBA Finals. It is by far the best entertainment in the world. Not just the game, where there’s something great happening every 30 secs. Add to it all the in-arena elements with mascots, dance teams, kiss cam, halftime shows, etc., it’s total paisa vasool. Wish more Indians could experience the same.
12. What does Siddharth Chury do after a hard day at work?
Well, I’ve always been a big sports fan. I play basketball 3 times a week, go swimming 3-4 times a week, and often take off on weekend hikes with my family. We actually do around 25-30 hikes a year. Rejuvenating in natures lap is the best form of relaxation for me.
Under the Hasbro licensing extension, Funrise will continue to create Tonka toys in the vehicle category.
NORTH AMERICA—Funrise and Hasbro have extended their licensing relationship for the Tonka brand and will introduce several new toys segments this fall.
Funrise will continue to drive the brand for Hasbro as the exclusive Tonka vehicle licensee worldwide, spearheading product development and marketing for Tonka vehicles and playsets. New segments include Tonka Power Movers vehicles with motion drive technology, a new line of construction vehicles that change sound as kids play, and additional series of Tonka Tinys cars including a construction-themed carrying case playset.
“We’re very excited to expand our relationship with Funrise,” says David Henderson, senior vice president, consumer products North America, Hasbro. “We’re committed to bringing consumers high quality and fun products like the iconic Tonka line, and we’re proud to continue to grow our relationship and bring Tonka vehicles and playsets to even more fans around the world.”
Funrise will continue delivering construction, rescue and urban vehicles with new versions of the iconic steel vehicles, including a Mighty Motorized segment, Mighty Fleetä and Toughest Minisä vehicles with lights and sounds, and Tinys collectible vehicles and playsets.
“We are proud to extend our long-term partnership with Hasbro,” says King Cheng, chief executive officer, Funrise. “Tonka and Funrise are synonymous with quality and imaginative play, and we will continue to grow the brand globally by investing in innovative vehicles that will last for generations.”
A new line of toys will line up with the release of the new Dr. Seuss film in theaters this December.
NORTH AMERICA—In anticipation for the release of the Illumination and Universal Pictures film, Dr. Seuss’The Grinch, Just Play announced a new line of toys based on the classic children’s book at this year’s Toy Fair.
Coming up is a line Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch ornament figures with an assortment of Dr. Seuss’ characters from the film including The Grinch, Santa Grinch, Max, Cindy-Lou and more, plus two exclusive figures. A Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Sleigh Figure set is also hitting retail shelves this fall.
A small plush collection, including characters like The Grinch, Santa Grinch, Cindy-Lou Who and more, plus a battery operated “The Grinch” Heart Glows plush, is slated for fall.
Just Play will release a trio of playsets this fall: Dr. Seuss’ Who-Ville Collection Set Snow Tube Fun Play Set, a Holiday Heist Play Set, and a Town Square Play Set. An Advent calendar will also be at retail this fall.
The children’s apparel line by Gap is inspired by the actor/designer’s family.
GLOBAL—The Gap has announced a collaboration with actor/designer Sarah Jessica Parker on a limited-edition line of girls and boys apparel and accessories.
Stemming from Parker’s good luck traditions, there are embroidered rabbits found throughout the collection of girls dresses, separates and handbags, and graphic tees, khakis, and shirts for boys and toddler boys. The collection will also include a backpack featuring Ebbit, an egg-shaped character.
“Creating this collection with Gap has been such a treat as a mother, as one of eight children, and as a reconnection with the brand,” says Parker. “I hope the pieces are cherished by the children who wear them, that items are passed down among generations, and that some great memories are created while wearing them.”
“It’s been a delight to collaborate with Sarah Jessica Parker on this special collection for kids that combines her nostalgic childhood memories with signature Gap favorites,” says Wendi Goldman, executive vice president and chief product officer, Gap. “We are so thrilled to have Sarah Jessica back with the Gap brand in this new collaboration capacity. Together we created a collection that we hope will be passed down from generation to generation, just as we envisioned.”
The Gap | Sarah Jessica Parker collection will be available March 1 at GapKids stores in select countries including the U.S., Canada, the U.K, France, Italy, Greater China, Hong Kong and Japan and gap.com.
WIT celebrated leaders in toys, licensing, entertainment and more.
NORTH AMERICA—The 14th Annual Wonder Women Awards Gala honored industry leaders in toys, licensing and entertainment last Sunday evening at a special event coinciding with New York Toy Fair.
Menal McGrath of Moose Toys took home the award in the licensing category; meanwhile, Sydney Wiseman of WowWee took home the creator inventor award.
Other award winners included:
Wonder Woman in Manufacturing Award; Diana Young, Spin Master
Wonder Woman in Marketing Award; Julie Powell Christopher, Entertainment One
Wonder Woman in Public Relations Award; Susan Murphy, Coyne PR
Wonder Woman Retailer Award; Cindy Levitt, Hot Topic
Wonder Woman Rising Stars; Ali Mierzejewski
The Toy Insider; Stephanie Mendoza, Sesame Workshop
Wonder Woman in Sales Award; Donna Moore, TTPM
“WIT is beyond proud of our new Wonder Women,” says Ashley Mady, president, Women in Toys. “Collectively, these powerhouse women lead a success story beyond the toy industry. In fact, WIT was just recognized by Nasdaq for the work our members contribute to overall business.”
Additonal honorees included, Norma Rosenhain, Creata CEO with the Lifetime Achievement Award, Nancy Zwiers, EVP and Global CMO at Spin Master, with the Elise Lachowyn Mentorship Award, and the Wonder Girl Award was given to the Toys“R”Us President of Play, 12-year-old Ariana Gentry. WIT also presented scholarships to 10 deserving college students, made possible through the WIT Foundation’s Scholarship Program.
The acquisition will add to the manufacturer’s presence in Asia.
NORTH AMERICA—Bioworld Merchandising has announced the acquisition of Global Design Concepts, a design and distribution company that provides branded and private label accessories for children.
According to GDC, the acquisition will further Bioworld’s presence in Asia with the addition of 10 new factories. In addition, the merger will see the manufacturer expand into licensed childrenswear and will provide it access to brands including Marvel, Disney, Nickelodeon, Nintendo and Shopkins.
“We were impressed by GDC’s stellar reputation and strong manufacturing presence in Asia,” says Raj Malik, chief executive officer, Bioworld.“I am confident in our teams’ shared passion for providing consumers with products that truly embody the brands they love, and look forward to the success this union will bring.”
“Bioworld is one of the most respected names in our industry, and I have always been impressed by its top-notch quality and design, so I was thrilled when Raj approached us,” says Carol Pedelty, chief executive officer, Global Design Concepts. “I am excited not only for our companies, but also for our customers who will benefit the most from this union.”