At the Housewares Show: YouTube Celebs, Videogames, Licensee Turnover

Videogame-related licenses were on display at the International Home + Housewares show in Chicago, and youth influencers such as Ryan (of Ryan Toysreview fame) and JoJo Siwa were either moving into the category for the first time or expanding their presence.

Among developments we saw during the early portion of the show:

Transitioning licensees

In a changing of licensees, Oneida Group’ Anchor Hocking Glass subsidiary unveiled new Oneida flatware, cutlery and dinnerware, which were previously licensed to Robinson Home Products. And Star Glory replaced W Unlimited as the North America licensee for Westinghouse kitchen appliances and cookware, extending its previous agreement for Mexico, Latin and South America. 

Robinson Home, which sued Oneida for breach of contract after Oneida accused it violating their agreement by selling in international markets, is continuing as the brand’s licensee for kitchen gadgets (ladles, whisks, etc.).

A spokesperson for Robinson Home said the company has “moved on” from its tabletop Oneida license (its top revenue generator in the category) to focus on building its own labels including CraftKitchen, Studio Cuisine and PrimeChef kitchen gadgets and cookware, anchored at the entry level by a licensed Sunbeam line. 

Meanwhile, former Stanley licensee Dusco has re-introduced its security line under the Westinghouse label at Home Depot, including a video door bell, indoor, outdoor Wi-Fi and floodlight security cameras. 

Videogames, YouTube Influencers Edge into Housewares

Videogames and YouTube influencers have been edging into housewares.

Zak Designs’ collection of Ninja products.

Zak Designs’ collection of Ninja products

Zak Designs had separate displays at the show for YouTube- and gaming-related products, the latter including additions to the Minecraft-related products introduced last year. Pro gamer Robert Tyler Blevins, better known by his Ninja handle for playing Fortnite, added his brand to the company’s travel mugs, bento mugs and water bottles. IMG, which represents Fortnite, and Brand Central, which represents Ninja, are both said to be meeting potential housewares licensees at the show. Meanwhile, as Zak added Ninja, it also expanded its JoJo Siwa products to include dinnerware as well as smaller size water bottles to appeal to younger children outside Siwa’s core tween audience.

“There are so many consumers involved in gaming and watching YouTube, and retailers are aware of them, so the demand is coming from both ends,” says Zaks Vp Reggie Thomas. 

Yet Silver Buffalo EVP Greg Alprin, who has met with both IMG and Brand Central and considered YouTube IP, remains focused on entertainment and corporate brands (Corona, Budweiser, Pabst Blue Ribbon) for its drinkware, party goods and a new venture into cookie jars. 

“After the initial popularity of some of these properties, how much of the business will be left outside of traditional gaming departments or gaming retailers?” says Alprin. “I am cautious as to what the market is in the longer term.”

Separately, Zak also introduced a its first broad Halloween-themed collection of travel mugs, water, bottles encompassing licenses such as Peanuts, Nightmare Before Christmas, Star Wars, Harry Potter and others. It’s part of a bid the expand its distribution in Halloween specialty retailers such as Spencer Gifts’ Spirit Halloween and Party City’s Halloween City. 


New Cookware Deals, Cuisinart Grill Expansion at Walmart

Cuisinart licensee The Fulham Group launched an exclusive program designed with Walmart for Cuisinart gas grills and accessories, including a new combo two-burner grill/griddle with a fold away prep table along with accessories and a half dozen Cuisinart seasonings. The grill ($224) is being carried in 3,300 Walmart stores. There also is a 23-SKU accessory line. Other Cuisinart grills are available through Bed, Bath and Beyond, Amazon and other retailers.

Westinghouse branded pans by Star Glory

Westinghouse branded pans by Star Glory

“We tried to grow brands and products in other categories, but we are focusing on Cuisinart now for outdoor grilling,” says Fulham VP Lois Glasgow. “We are trying capitalize on Cuisinart’s strength in the kitchen because we think it is a natural transition to the outdoor products.”

Meanwhile, Star Glory’s Westinghouse crepe pans, skillets and Dutch ovens launched on Amazon and will be part of an in-store demonstration program later this year at BJ’s Wholesale Club stores, says Star Glory President Anun Mahbubani. In expanding its distribution of Westinghouse products to North America, Star Glory developed products for a more health-conscious market, including air fryers and smoothie blenders, and added more horse power to the kitchen appliances, says Mahbubani.


Swiss Diamond Seeking Brand Licensees

Premium cookware supplier Swiss Diamond is seeking the first North American licensing deals for its brand and a new “Cooks in Love” label. It has licensing pacts in other parts of the world for cutlery, flatware, small electric appliances and glassware. Swiss Diamond expects to launch the lower priced “Cooks in Love by Swiss Diamond” brand and products later this year, targeting grocery chains. 

“We have never made a concerted effort in North America and it was a question putting enough energy behind a licensing program and having enough time,” says Chairman Amir Alon.


Funko to launch children’s book series

Funko has teamed up with Sterling Publishing to launch a new children’s book series in June.

The series of books will be based on Funko’s own designs and characters from Wetmore Forest. Wetmore Forest was created by Funko to encourage discovery and exploration among its fans. Funko’s Pop! Monsters include Bugsy Wingnut, Butterhorn, Snuggletooth, Tumblebee and others.

Funko and Sterling Publishing will showcase the books at the London Book Fair and Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

“We’re excited to expand the storylines of our beloved Wetmore family through a book series available at the bookseller with the largest number of retail outlets in the United States,” says Johanna Gepford, senior vice president, global sales, Funko. “Children will be delighted to follow the adventures of characters created by the same creative geniuses that produce highly sought-after Funko products.”

Funko’s book series will be available online and in-store exclusively at Barnes & Noble along with accompanying Funko merchandise beginning June 15.


How literary properties charmed licensees

Why publishing-based properties are such a rich vein of content for the licensing industry.

Following a surge in sales in 2016, the UK children’s book market has been steadily increasing ever since. The Bookseller reported the market grew by 0.7% in the 12 months to August 2018, with picture book sales rising by 2% YOY.

Those figures are unsurprising when we look at the importance placed on reading for children, particularly in preschool years. A recent report from Childwise showed the average parent spends £7 a month on books for their preschooler (up from £6 last year), with 72 per cent saying they spend on books every month. A solid foundation for young readers.

So the love of reading is strong among UK families and provides the perfect backdrop for books to become successful licensed brands. A handful of publishing properties have been long established in the licensing industry.


Thomas Merrington, creative director at Penguin Ventures, works with the Beatrix Potter books: “Our licensing programme really began back in 1902 with Beatrix Potter herself. She realised the potential of her Peter Rabbit creation right from the start, making him one of the first licensed literary characters in the world.”

But not all popular books progress into fruitful licensing properties, so what’s the secret to success?

Vicky Hill, licensing director, Bulldog Licensing tells us her key attributes for a strong publishing brand: “Literary titles that have moved into licensing are well-established in the market with very high recognition – making product instantly recognisable to consumers. Illustrations are unique, attractive and easily translate onto products across a number of categories.”


Uncomplicated and timeless stories are part of the recipe for The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s success, as Rob Wijeratna, joint managing director of Rocket Licensing explains: “The attributes of an identifiable demographic, longevity and high awareness, are often important when it comes to creating a licensing success. The simplicity of Eric Carle’s tale of nature and growth gives it a timeless and classic appeal that goes beyond national boundaries, that is renewed with every generation of preschoolers and which forms a strong basis for a licensing campaign.”

An inter-generational readership is key for Stephanie Griggs, licensing and design director, The Roald Dahl Story Company. “In the case of Roald Dahl, we’re fortunate to be viewed as an evergreen brand, which brings a level of consumer trust,” she says. “We’re loved by parents and grandparent, but our core audience – children –  feel like the stories are theirs, and they’re discovering them for the first time as a new book that could have been written last week. This multi-generational audience creates a number of purchase touchpoints for both the books and the licensed product.”


Thomas echoes this sentiment: “The heritage of our IP is key. Our youngest brand is over 30 years old, so these stories and characters resonate with multiple generations – each of which have experienced the stories together as a family – which is incredibly powerful in terms of making lasting memories and securing affection for these literary creations.”

In fact, this is the case for many books which have successfully transitioned into licensing. But as Alex Antscherl, editorial director for Enid Blyton, Hachette Children’s Group explains, it’s key to ensure that licensees are true to the heritage of the brand: “Many fans will have a sense of ownership over a book or character and may feel quite protective of their favourites. Licensed products need to be consistent with the values and the feel of the original property, while still appealing to today’s consumers and newer fans.”

Rob agrees: “Managing a brand like The Very Hungry Caterpillar is managing a cultural icon, so you can’t afford to lose focus. You need to understand the market and be aware of perceptions of the brand when considering partnerships. This brand needs sensitive and intelligent brand management, and we like to think that’s what we offer.”

So with those key attributes in place, publishers and agencies are now exploring innovative ways to engage with their audience in order to further grow their brands. Literary properties are pushing boundaries and licensing into a wider range of categories and media.


Isobel Richardson, head of brand management at Penguin Ventures, explains: “With the increasing consumer appetite for classic and iconic characters, it’s enabling us to tell the story of these characters in new ways, and take them beyond the books, into areas we night never have thought possible.

“For example for the 40th anniversary of The Snowman, we have a partnership with Backyard Cinema where visitors can experience the film in an immersive environment at Winter Wonderland. So it’s a fantastic way for us to continue to build the brand, in a way that is both relevant and meaningful today.”


A perspective shared by Hachette Children’s Group if its Malory Towers news is anything to go by. The company has sold the TV adaptation rights for the books (first published in 1946) to King Bert productions, as well as announcing an extension to the original stories with four new books.

As well as more ambitious licensing programmes, there is one particular initiative helping to grow publishing properties.

“Events such as World Book Day, where children are organically engaged with their favourite books and characters, are really putting literary properties front and centre of mind,” says Stephanie.

Rob agrees: “Literary properties are able to tap into retail and marketing opportunities around World Book Day, which is a big date in the licensing calendar each year.”

And, of course, there are wide ranging benefits for licensees when working with publishing properties. Alex comments: “Heritage literary brands, especially in children’s publishing, are linked to happy childhood memories. Evoking that nostalgia can be a powerful sales incentive.”

Vicky concludes: “Literary brands are great for licensees as they are established in the market with great awareness, proven sales and high parental endorsement.”


Timberlake, AOKI team up for bag remix

FUL, the travel bag and gear brand founded by Justin Timberlake and inspired by musicians, will be launching an original collaboration with DJ/producer Steve Aoki this summer.

The collection, called FUL-Aoki, will be available in select stores across the U.S., as well as some items available exclusively on the FUL website.

The new collection embodies Aoki’s individual, forward-looking fashion perspective and creativity, featuring a variety of pieces inspired by streetwear and travel necessities.

Prices range from $79.99 to $119.99 for backpacks and $39.99 for waist packs, and products will be available at high-end sneaker stores in North America in August.

In addition to the street collection, there will be a limited-edition backpack and carry-on set personally designed by Aoki, based on his travel and performance needs. The set has enough storage for three laptops, headphones, connectivity and leaves enough room for his Dim Mak Collection apparel. The set will retail for $400, sold exclusively online.

“This collab with FUL is an exciting venture for me since their products are inspired by musicians and they are innovators in the travel space,” says Aoki. “I spend almost all of my time traveling the world, so I understand the need for functionality but wanting to look fashion forward while doing so. My bag collection includes sleek designs that are versatile, with my signature Aoki logos, and three-color variations–silver, black and bronze–giving a futuristic feel.”

“We’re so excited about our FUL-Aoki product launch,” says Sam Hafiz, chief executive officer, FUL. “Steve has incredible vision, and travel is such a big part of his life. No one I know travels as extensively as he does, so his vision for the product and how it should function comes from a unique personal experience.”


You have till March 8th to have your say!


We have extended the deadline of acquiring data for the 2019 LIMA Global Licensing Industry Study to Friday 8th March. This important project provides an annual update on the size of the trademark licensing business worldwide and has been extremely valuable to our members in their strategic planning. If you havent already taken the survey we request you to do so at the earliest, by the 8th of March. We look forward to releasing the top-line numbers this coming May during Licensing Expo. 

The quality of our research data obviously depends in large part on the participation of our industry’s executives – therefore we strongly encourage you to complete this 15-minute survey. Please be aware that this is a completely anonymous survey and none of the information submitted will be seen by or shared with anyone other than the researchers.

Click here to take part in the survey now!  

If you’d like to discuss the survey or have any questions, please contact Marty Brochstein, LIMA SVP of Industry Relations & Information.

McDonalds “Mind blown” by Discovery!

Are you the kind of soul that gets pumped up at the mention of the word ‘science’? Or, do nuts and bolts and screw drivers fascinate you? How many times have you found yourself glued to the television set when anything about mechanics is aired? Well, well, well… if all your answers to the questions above are in the affirmative then probably you would have an idea about Discovery Mindblown Robots… diving further in the Mariana Trench of science, we at McDonald’s believe in more than just theoretics and hence we are collaborating with none other than Discovery and have sealed the deal with their new brand #Mindblown on our mission to spread happiness around! So, dear Happy Meal Toy collectors, unleash the Einstein within you and make a move to the nearest McDonald’s India (South and West) restaurant and get your hands on these amazing Discovery Mindblown Robots designed specifically to satiate the scientist within you.

Read more at:

Bradford to Help Build PGA of America Brand in India

The PGA of America has entered into a partnership with Bradford Licensing for representation in the retail space in select international markets. Now Bradford License India will extend licensing the brand into the Indian Territory. As one of the world’s largest sports associations comprised of nearly 29,000 PGA of America Professionals recognized as the experts in teaching and growing the game of golf, the PGA of America has a powerful brand that appeals to a wide demographic globally.

Ashish Saxena, Business Head Bradford License India said, “The expansion and popularity of the sport in India continues to attract new fans and consumers alike. Additionally, with over 230 golf courses and influx in the pool of golfers, we feel confident that the timing is ripe to build the PGA brand in India.”

With the goal of contributing to the lifestyle market, some of the licensing initiatives might be inventive in nature. For example, realty developers are researching the viability of wooing buyers by offering golf themed apartment complexes. These innovative marketing strategies are a testament to the game’s increasing popularity. Such an upswing is indeed stirring demand for branded golf merchandise.

“With golf’s worldwide following numbering in the hundreds of millions and PGA of America Professionals working in more than 30 countries around the world, tapping into myriad licensing partnerships is an exciting challenge,” noted Arjun Chowdri, Sr. Director Global & Corporate Strategy at the PGA of America. “We are delighted to be partners with Bradford Licensing in our worldwide licensing endeavors to help elevate the brand of the PGA of America and its Members overseas.”

Fanattik inks deal for Rambo

U.K.-based collectibles company Fanattik has signed a European-wide multiyear license with Studiocanal for a line of Rambo-branded collectibles.

The first Rambo film debuted on the big screen in 1982, debuting the story of former Green Beret John Rambo, who is followed into the mountains and forced to use his combat skills to survive after being pursued by a tyrannical sheriff and his deputies.

“The items that we are creating will include the likeness of Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo, and that will make a big difference to the collectibles produced,” says Melissa Tudor, product development, Fanattik. “We are very much a fan-focused company, and the fans want to see Rambo on the product.”

The latest film in the Rambo franchise will be released this fall.


Manic Panic appoints Pacific Swell as Licensing Agent

Manic Panic, creators of Radical Glamour hair coloring and cosmetics, has appointed Pacific Swell Brands as its exclusive licensing agency to expand its lifestyle program and product offering.

Pacific Swell Brands will focus on forging partnerships across hair styling, beauty, fashion, home décor, Halloween seasonal products, among other products.

“Manic Panic is truly a rainbow of a brand in the sense that it appeals to a wide range of demographics and consumer groups from punk, hipsters and ravers to the mainstream fashionista all the way up to celebrities, high-fashion runway models and designers,” says Vivian Velasco, president, PacSwell. “We look forward to carrying the Manic Panic name, history and culture into new product categories and channels through powerful licensing partnerships.”