Licensing Magazine Summer 2023

Page 46





Welcome back! We have a busy summer ahead of us, unlike any we have had for years! In fact, this issue of Licensing Magazine will be going on an eventful global tour, starting in Las Vegas at the essential Licensing Expo - concurrently with MIFA in Annecy - before heading to Germany to our friends at BRANDMate. This will be followed by a busy week in July at Brands & Retail Conference and the Children’s Media Conference in the UK. We will then end the summer season by sending the magazine to the South American licensing fair in Brazil, and conclude our world tour in South Korea, where we will attend ACE FAIR as a Media Partner for the first time, and in Europe at the unmissable Cartoon Forum in Toulouse. As a result, we have produced a particularly rich issue with news, insights, and reports on strategic markets such as the US and Germany. In addition, we dedicated a generous section to animation and retail, with a report from Shoptalk Europe, which we attended on your behalf in Barcelona last May.

We are looking forward to revealing more news, discovering fresh trends, and writing more exclusive interviews for you, and delivering another jam-packed issue at Brand Licensing Europe in October! As always, good reading to all!


BM Srl


Cristina Angelucci


Rossella Arena


Francesca Wolfler


Alessandra Maccaferri, Andrea De Amicis, Beatrice Revello, Matteo Melani, Hanna Melotto Group, Ryan Beaird, Davide Abbatescianni, TAMTAMING,, Lisa Hryniewicz


BM Srl - Via Po, 14 - 10123 Torino, Italy

Ph. +39 011 1921 1996 -


Casma Tipolito - Bologna - Italy

Trade publication registered at ROC number 25906
The editorial staff has taken every care to obtain from copyright holders the authorization to publish the pictures in this issue. In any cases where this has not been possible, the editorial staff would like to make it known that they are available to eligible parties to settle any amounts that are owed.
@LM_LicensingMag @LMLicensingMag @Licensing Magazine @lm_licensingmag EDITORIAL 4
Cristina Angelucci
CONTENTS 6 MINECRAFT The global power of Minecraft Brand MINECRAFT Minecraft’s Fashion Collaborations Cover Story Interview Interview Interview 8 10 10 KODAK Kodak, an unparalleled reputation ZAG ENTERTAINMENT An overarching and diversified strategy MOONBUG ENTERTAINMENT Inspiring Children to Laugh, Learn and Grow STUDIO 100 Studio 100: Vegesaurs, the new licensing highlight IMPS/LAFIG Smurfing the American market ACAMAR FILMS The international success of Bing MAURIZIO DISTEFANO LICENSING Room for acquisitions to intercept new targets PUPPY Spreading love for the Smurfs through Blue Resin DEA PLANETA ENTERTAINMENT Key points of DeAPlaneta Entertainment’s strategy MERCIS Miffy. Iconic by design, Playful by nature CICABOOM Marvel Mission Arena: new plans on the way NELLY JELLY WORLD Nelly Jelly Sets New Trends in Children’s Education and Entertainment with Innovative Campaigns and Quality Content News News News 12 20 16 26 28 32 46 38 50 40 52 44 LICENSING EXPO PREVIEW The magic of licensing GENIUS BRANDS INTERNATIONAL Interview with Paul Robinson LICENSING INTERNATIONAL Interview with Maura Regan US TRENDS
Ahead: Retail Trends for 2023
IN THE USA 10 Trends to Define Fashion in 2023
Branded Experiences Shaping Up in
RETAIL IN THE US Retail, post Covid challenges and innovations NEW YORK TOY FAIR The eagerly awaited 2023 edition ANIMATION The variety of American Animation Focus 54 62 64 66 68 70 72 74 76 72
How are


Markets and trends, all the opportunities of Luxury



Interview with David Tommaso, marketing & sales director of Leolandia




CONTENTS 7 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL New collaboration opportunities between European and Asian studios take centre stage at Cannes’ Marché du film VIDEO GAMES REVOLUTION Videogames 2023: a year full of novelties BRANDS & RETAIL SUMMER CONFERENCE Where retail and brands meet 110 102 90 106 CARTOON NEXT What’s new from Cartoon Next 2023 AFRICA Spotlight on African Market
Avatars, the way to qualitative research in the Metaverse
Kidult phenomenon
and retailers
and opportunities
BRANDMATE PREVIEW A diverse world of unique characters FRANKFURTER BUCHMESSE Frankfurter Buchmesse is ready for its 75th anniversary ANIMATION
touching stories to trail-blazing animation
in e-commerce
The benefits of augmented reality
EUROPE The future of retail Animation Trends Trends Save the Date Focus Events Media & Digital Events Retail Retail 96 100 118 106 122 80 84 86 114 116 112 108 80 100 ONLINE GAMING Experiential marketing. The potential of online gaming 104

The global power of Minecraft Brand

What started as a game in 2009 about breaking and placing blocks has grown nearly 15 years later into a platform and canvas for creative expression and a global entertainment franchise powerhouse.

The brainchild of Stockholm’s Mojang Studios, the multiple-award-winning Minecraft is an instantly memorable game where players create wonderful and imaginative things. It was developed with a mission to inspire generations of game changers by building a world where the Minecraft community shares core values of crafting together, celebrating creativity, fueling passion, and creating fun!

The critically-acclaimed game became an immediate hit sensation and has since grown to become the best-selling video game of all time selling more than 238 million copies across 20 platforms and is still played today by millions of players in every country and territory around the world, including Antarctica and Vatican City! Minecraft became the

first game to top one trillion views on YouTube (as of December 2021). And, a fun fact: If each view were a Minecraft block 12 inches square, you could build a stack that reached from the Earth to the sun and back -- with about seven million miles to spare!

In 2014 when Microsoft acquired Mojang Studios, Minecraft had only eight licensing partners on board and has since evolved into a formidable evergreen entertainment franchise with robust consumer products and retail programs. Mojang Studios continues to expand the Minecraft experience beyond the game.

To continue to grow the franchise, Minecraft launched Marketplace in 2017 as an online store where players

- The Guardian -

Federico San Martin
“The best video game of (the first two decades of) the 21st century.”

can purchase community-created content using Minecoins. Marketplace creators have generated more than $500M in revenue from downloads of skins, worlds, and other experiences. Minecraft Marketplace has partnered to create content with some of the biggest entertainment brands, including Star Wars, Minions, How to Train Your Dragon, Ben 10, and Sonic the Hedgehog.

apparel/accessories, seasonal, paper goods, and more.

Recently, Minecraft signed a slate of new licensing partners to further expand product offerings, headlined by Crayola (Seasonal/Party – U.S., Canada), American Greetings (Greeting Cards & Wrapping Paper – U.S., Canada), Crunchpak (Food & Beverage – U.S., Canada), Dynacraft (Sporting Goods –U.S.), Bladez Toys (Arts & Crafts – U.K., Europe, Australia), Procos Seasonal/ Party – Europe), L Founders Loyalty Programs – Europe) and Andromeda (Back-to-School – Mexico), joining existing best-in-class global partners, including LEGO, Mattel, Random House, Hallmark, Hasbro, and Uniqlo, as well as regional partners such as Fashion UK, Character World, Cataic, Caprice and more.

Over the past couple of years, Minecraft has also partnered with some of the biggest fashion brands in the world,

This past April, Mojang Studios, in partnership with Blackbird Interactive, launched Minecraft Legends, an allnew action strategy game where fans explore a familiar universe in unfamiliar ways. Minecraft Legends is an organic expansion of the Minecraft IP and continues the Minecraft franchise’s legacy as an approachable, familyfriendly way to jump into new genres.

In 2021 Federico San Martin joined as the Global Head of Consumer Products for the Minecraft brand, with a focus on building the licensing and retail program worldwide. Since then, the consumer products team has expanded the business to over 150 partners worldwide across a multitude of categories, including toys, games, publishing,

including Burberry, Lacoste, Crocs, and Puma, to create unique collaborations that bridge the gap between the digital and physical space and speak to the individuality and authenticity of the brand.

“With an unprecedented scope for creativity, Minecraft has become a global phenomenon that fosters creative thinking and problem solving both in the game and through our branded products, offering fans the opportunity to interact with Minecraft both physically and digitally,” commented San Martin.

“Ahead of our 15th anniversary next year, this is the ideal time for us to explore new areas of business globally and to share with current and potential new partners at Licensing Expo our upcoming franchise initiatives across content, game updates, marketing, retail and promotional activities.”

Minecraft heads to Licensing Expo this year as an official exhibitor for the first time (#J120) to showcase new initiatives, including the 15th Anniversary celebration plans in 2024, which includes initiatives to expand the brand’s entertainment offerings; new content, new games, new retail and promotional partnerships and more! Additionally as part of the further evolution of the franchise, Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures are in development on a Minecraft theatrical feature, set to star Jason Momoa, which will premiere on April 4, 2025.

“Over the next three years, our focus will be on category expansion to include collectibles, consumer electronics, food & beverage, health & beauty, for example, and to continue to work with our international agents, including CAA and Merchantwise to further to build the global footprint of Minecraft,” San Martin adds.

It appears they are certainly delivering on their goal to delight the Minecraft community with products that extend across generations and beyond the game!

“Intuitively interesting and contagiously fun with an unparalleled scope for creativity and memorable experiences.”
- PC Gamer -
“A superb example of gaming’s ability to ignite and inspire our fascination with creation.”
- Games Radar + -

Minecraft’s Fashion Collaborations

Heading into this year’s Licensing Expo with its focus on fashion, Mojang Studios’ Minecraft is leading the charge in the gaming world with its high-fashion collaborations with Burberry and Lacoste.

Minecraft’s partnership with Burberry has been touted one of the biggest gaming collaborations of the year. Bridging the gap between the physical and digital worlds, the partners created an in-game adventure, capsule collection, and real-world activations,

each filled with creativity, exploration and self-expression.

Accessible via the Minecraft Marketplace, the “Burberry: Freedom to go Beyond” virtual world features digital products that reflect the Burberry

brand across four element-inspired realms-air, water, earth and fire, which feature Equestrian Knight character,


a monogram maze; building blocks that feature the iconic Nova check; and gardens with hedges shaped as Burberry’s logo. With 15 downloadable skins based on fashion, fantasy and adventure, the game reimagines journeys into nature through the power of adventure.

Additionally, the physical capsule collection was available online and in stores in New York, Shenzhen, London, Tokyo, Seoul, Taiwan and Bangkok. Scenes from the game were also displayed on screens creating an immersive retail experience.

Addressing how this partnership came to be...Federico San Martin, Global Head of Consumer Products for Minecraft explains: “When we look to partner with brands on collaborations it is integral that our brands have similar goals when it comes to brand values, social impact, and outreach. Burberry shared our values of adventure, creativity, and selfexpression as well as the importance of serving our brand communities which is something that we share and want to celebrate”.

Minecraft partnered as well with renowned fashion brand Lacoste for an exclusive collaboration, where the crossover between physical and digital realms brought exclusive product to life. San Martin commented: “Minecraft and

Lacoste are both inspired by the shared ambitions of self-discovery and worldbuilding, so it made sense for these two power brands to partner to create a unique retail experience.”

In the digital world, Minecraft players discovered special Lacoste skins embedded within the game to dress their avatars. Each pixelated clothing item was also available at retail, allowing players to purchase both digital and physical wardrobes.

Also in the digital world, Minecraft players got the exciting opportunity to enter into “Croco Island” where they could explore a tropical Lacoste theme park and try their hand at a series of fun minigames, play tennis, design their own court, and find Mr. Croc’s lost items in a Scavenger Hunt!

The Minecraft x Lacoste capsule apparel and accessories collection featured designs interpreted to fit the Minecraft universe with messages such as, “We Welcome Everyone” and “Crafting Together.”


Kodak, an unparalleled reputation

LM interviewed Clara Fort, VP Global Brand Licensing, to know more about the power of the KODAK brand, its continued relevance to today’s consumers, and the evolving playing field to which the company has access.

Kodak is a household brand with a century-old history. Tell us about Kodak today?

For 130 years, our brand has been one of the most trusted in the world, evoking warmth, and affection in the minds of our customers. This bond is a rare asset that few brands possess. Our impressive track record of innovation and partnerships has propelled us to #49 on License Global’s top 150 list for 2022, a remarkable rise of 35 places since 2020. With a presence in over 110 countries and retail turnover of $527M, KODAK’s enduring popularity is undeniable.

In 2022, Kodak’s licensing business achieved a year-over-year revenue growth of 9%. Over the past 12 months, we have expanded our licensing portfolio by welcoming an apparel licensee in Latin America, France, and Spain, as well as expanding our presence in image and audio in Australia, the USA, and Canada

Furthermore, our existing licensees continue to renew, building on past successes and reinforcing our brand recognition.

Our success can be attributed in part to our ability to remain relevant to modern consumers while staying true to our core values.

What is the brand’s licensing strategy at present?

Amongst other categories, KODAK’s licensing strategy is then centred on the consumer electronics market, building on our strong reputation for delivering innovative and high-quality solutions, particularly in image capture. When seeking partners, we prioritize those with an established market proposition, deep expertise in their field, and a successful product mix. Our key licensing categories include image capture, home security, smart home products, smartphones, computer, gaming accessories, and AI-enabled

technologies and we are present in both the B2C and increasingly B2B markets.

At KODAK, we have embraced technological evolution and made it a central component of our licensing


strategy. A perfect example of this is the upcoming KODAK Era Photo Printer range, which combines the nostalgia of instant photography with the convenience of a digital device and thermal technology.

Our versatility and adaptability were recognized by The International Licensing awards, Kodak was nominated as finalists for two categories: Best Licensed Brand, Corporate, and Best Licensed Product, Apparel, Footwear, and Accessories for our Modern Works Kids’ Apparel line.

Licensing International praised KODAK’s ability to connect with both Gen Z and older generations, demonstrating its versatility and potential for continued success.

What are the latest licensing partnerships?

We are also enthusiastic about brand collaborations, and our recent partnerships with popular fashion brands such as H&M, Next (UK), and Knickerbocker (US) have injected new life into the KODAK brand, attracting a new generation of customers. In addition, we have two more collaborations planned for Europe this year, and discussions are currently underway with some major players for 2024

As businesses seek new revenue streams and strive to remain competitive in today’s market, KODAK’s expertise in imaging technology, combined with its unparalleled reputation and expansive intellectual property portfolio, has proven to be a game-changer across a variety of industries.

Have you conceived targeted licensing plans for the different age groups, such as Gen Z?

Gen Z is one such audience, seeking authentic and trusted brands that align with their values of authenticity, nostalgia, personalization, quality, and unique experiences. This same audience has embraced the resurgence of traditional film photography who value the unique look and feel that only film can provide. This newfound interest in analogue film is attracting a growing number of enthusiasts who appreciate KODAK’s heritage and expertise in film photography.

We have been at the forefront of this trend, leveraging our knowledge to bring new products to market, such as the KODAK EKTAR H35 Half Frame Camera, which is a great choice as it allows for double the photos on a single roll of film.

Kodak products have always been widely used in the film and entertainment industries. What are the most important collaborations?

As the film industry continues to evolve, KODAK remains committed to innovating in this space, offering new and exciting products that capture the timeless beauty of analogue film. And our efforts have been recognized by top

Kodak Ektar H35 Half Frame Camera

directors and artists, including Steven Spielberg, Damien Chazelle, Adele, and Taylor Swift, who have all chosen to shoot their work on KODAK film.

What is Kodak’s commitment to sustainability?

With a focus on print and advanced materials and chemicals, we strive to deliver innovative products and solutions that care for people and the planet and fuel sustainable growth for Kodak and our customers. Kodak actively drives technological developments, including process-free printing plates and water-based inks, that enable commercial printers to produce in a greener way and leave a smaller carbon footprint. Across all global operations, Kodak teams are committed to implementing new ways to reduce waste, lower energy consumption, conserve water and reduce harmful emissions. Kodak’s market-leading products help our customers operate in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Which sectors and markets is Kodak currently venturing into?

As the wider company diversifies into cutting-edge technologies like coating substrates for EV battery manufacturing

and light-blocking fabrics, Kodak’s licensing model is attracting attention from new sectors, in addition to our traditional licensees. And it’s not just new sectors that are opening, as mentioned the expansion includes new markets. Our current licensing strategy has already yielded positive results in engaging a much younger audience.

For instance, Modern Works in Korea, one of our licensees, has successfully launched trendy children’s clothing and accessories with a colourful and contemporary design. The line has been well-received in the Korean kids’ fashion market and has reintroduced the KODAK KOLORKINS Stuffed Toys from the ‘90s by incorporating them into backpacks. Additionally, other products aimed at children, such as C+A PRINTOMATIC Cameras suitable for kids aged nine and up, GT Company’s binoculars for kids, and Cra-Z-Art’s range of bright and easy-to-follow puzzles, showcase our commitment to developing innovative and engaging products for consumers of all ages. I am certainly finding that working with a dynamic brand that constantly explores new frontiers is a source of immense satisfaction.

What is in store for Kodak’s future?

Looking to the future, the commitment to our licensing business remains steadfast. Kodak’s ability to adapt to new technologies and consumer trends has made it a first-choice licensing brand for consumer electronics, fashion and much more. As the brand celebrates the 100-year anniversary of

the 16mm film and approaches the 90th anniversary of the Kodachrome film, Kodak is well-positioned to expand its licensing reach into new markets. I’m incredibly excited for you to see what new partnerships and products we will be unveiling in the coming years!

Which B2B events will you be attending next?

Kodak licensees are planning to exhibit at several significant fairs, including IFA, GITEX, HK NY Toy Fair, CIOF, and BLE


Inspiring Children to Laugh, Learn and Grow

Moonbug returns to Licensing Expo this year looking forward to showcasing its popular properties and discussing exciting plans around them.

The company behind some of the biggest kids’ entertainment brands in the world, including CoComelon and Blippi, has shown substantial geographical growth over the past year, expanding its presence across EMEA, APAC and LatAm.

With its shows available on more than 150 video platforms globally including Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer and YouTube Kids, the company is also a global leader in pre-school music and audio experiences, which are available on 100+ audio platforms globally. Aside from its popular content, Moonbug brands extend far beyond the screen to include consumer products, live events, and even theme park exhibits. The relatively young company, established in 2018, aims to be a natural part of every child’s upbringing, regardless of geography, culture or background. By inspiring and engaging children with fun and responsible storytelling, Moonbug encourages kindness, compassion and resilience in the next generation. And the rapid success of the shows demonstrate that those values and themes are resonating with the wider public. Moonbug shows are varied in nature, but have certain core characteristics that make them successful.

Moonbug Joins Fast Company’s Annual List of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2023

Moonbug’s innovative approach to kids’ entertainment has been recognised as the company has been named to Fast Company’s prestigious annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2023 in the Film and Television category. The World’s Most Innovative Companies is Fast Company’s signature franchise and one of its most highly anticipated editorial efforts of the year. It provides a first-hand look at the inspiring and innovative efforts of companies across all sectors of the economy.


Moonbug Enters New Era with New Corporate Look

Moonbug started this year unveiling a fresh new look, featuring a new corporate style and logo that will be recognized by families around the world. For this project, Moonbug worked with brand agency DixonBaxi to refresh its corporate identity in order to convey the same energy and fun as its colourful shows and characters, including hits CoComelon and Blippi

A few months later, at the beginning of May, Moonbug debuted a new refreshed look for the company’s 24/7 linear channel, Moonbug KIDS, and a new name, Moonbug, in line with the wider corporate rebrand. While streaming and content on demand continue to gain popularity, linear channels are still relevant and, in 2022, Moonbug saw a big expansion of its linear channel, reaching 75+ countries across the globe.

talk down to them. Trained experts in education and research work directly with producers, talent and executives to make sure Moonbug’s content is age and culturally relevant, it is high-quality and has educational value.


Music and songs play a huge role in Moonbug brands. Music is good for motor skills development and the repetition of the songs helps kids understand when something is important. The songs, especially in shows such as CoComelon, support the early foundational years for both kids and parents.

Wide Distribution

Moonbug’s content is always on and available across a wide range of platforms where kids are. The company believes every family should be able to access its entertaining and enriching content in whichever way they are used to consuming content.

Aside from its popular content, Moonbug has successfully developed an extremely strong consumer products programme with offerings in all major licensed categories including toys & games, fashion, accessories & footwear, party goods, FMCG, arts & crafts, home and more. In a relatively short amount of time, the company has built a worldclass portfolio of best-in-class licensees and continues to build upon these relationships with new categories and brands.

Some facts about Moonbug

First of all, Moonbug’s content is available in  32 languages including American Sign Language. Its content can be found on more than 150 platforms globally, including YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Sky, Super

What makes Moonbug a unique brand

Universal Themes

The themes covered in its shows have universal appeal (e.g. friendships or families, numbers and words), which means that regardless of background or geographies, kids find the worlds and situations portrayed relatable.

Fun and Entertainment

The shows are fun and engaging, so they generate loyalty and fandom.

Relevant Content

Moonbug’s shows are relevant and age appropriate to their audience, they meet kids where they are and don’t


RTL, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Tencent, Youku and Roku.

Moonbug has expanded into other formats such as podcasts (CoComelon Story Time on Spotify or Little Baby Bum: Time to Dream on Audible), gaming (CoComelon: Play with JJ), personalized character greetings with Cameo, audio, live entertainment and consumer products.

CoComelon makes up 27% of all infant & toddler music consumed in the US. The show generates 115 million streams a month across major DSP’s globally and will did 1.3 billion streams in 2022, up 34% from 2021. Moreover, UK debut stage show Blippi: The Musical was nominated to the 2023 Olivier Awards in the “Best Family Show” category. Last but not least, Moonbug has a robust licensing business, which has received significant recognition, such as CoComelon winning Top Licensed Property in the The Licensing Awards held in Las Vegas in May 2022.

Moonbug Brands


CoComelon is a fun show about childhood, celebrating the big moments

for little kids. It follows JJ, his family and friends on fun everyday adventures exploring and learning through relatable situations and catchy songs. As the most-watched brand on YouTube Kids with more than 4.5 billion monthly views, global sensation CoComelon has cemented itself as a top preschool property. The brand, which supports kids in their foundational years through positivity, with a song for every big-little moment, has attracted the attention of many licensees and retailers as well as the hearts of its many little fans.


Blippi is a live action preschool program that takes kids on field trips where

they explore kid-friendly and interactive destinations. These curiosity adventures elevate play time into a learning experience by meeting new people, exploring new words and learning new facts associated with the places they visit, which are familiar to kids in any neighbourhood.

The show, which is available in more than 20 languages including ASL, has become a worldwide sensation with more than one billion monthly views across platforms including Netflix, HBO Max, Cartoonito, Sky, Amazon and YouTube.

The Blippi brand has also successfully expanded with new Blippi buddy shows and international productions. Blippi’s buddies Meekah and Juca now have their own shows and Blippi lives off the screen as well with sold-out live events, popular music tracks, and in-demand toys available at all major retailers.

Little Angel

Little Angel is an animated show for preschoolers, which is captivating families around the world with its humour, catchy and upbeat songs and familiar nursery rhymes. The show aims to inspire kids and families to have fun and to grow and learn through play.


Oddbods is a hilarious comedy that follows the adventures of a group of very individual and quirky friends as

New Original Family Listening Podcasts Available on Audible

Audible and Moonbug recently announced two original family listening podcasts, Little Baby Bum: Time to Dream and Lellobee City Farm: Grandma Mei’s Fantastic Folktales The two series, based on Moonbug’s beloved hit shows, feature a unique format, blending podcasts and audiobooks to engage parents with young children to help them grow and learn

The collaboration marks the first venture into dedicated audio experiences for the Little Baby Bum and Lellobee City Farm brands from Moonbug. Adding to the 200 million audio streams that Moonbug already does monthly, the Audible collaboration signals a continued expansion for Moonbug into the many audio verticals, including music, podcasts, and audiobooks.

Paolo Bramati

they survive the perils of everyday life, where ordinary situations quickly spiral into extraordinary events. Oddbods teach us to discover the best version of ourselves.

Minibods, a Spin-Off Series of Global Phenomenon Oddbods

Last April, the company launched a new channel, Minibods, on YouTube. Minibods is a non-dialogue, slapstick preschool comedy series (39 episodes of 7 minutes each) that follows the adventures of six furry friends who bring the silly to every situation and overcome life’s hurdles in unconventional ways.

Building on the success of 3-time International Emmy-nominated Oddbods, which has over 35 million YouTube subscribers across its various dedicated channels, Minibods comes from a team of award-winning writers and is targeted at young kids and families who want to enjoy some fun and humour together.

Minibods features five beloved characters from Oddbods – Bubbles, Jeff, Newt, Pogo, and Fuse – along with new addition Lulu. Each episode is told from the perspective of one of the six Minibods as they go through adventures and face kid-relatable obstacles, such as learning how to ride a bicycle or baking. Episode learnings are focused on the social-emotional development of pre-schoolers through ‘accidental learning,’ which teaches children by naturally modelling positive behaviours.

Show writers include BAFTA and Emmy Award winner Adam Redfern (Go Jetters, The Adventures of Paddington), BAFTA nominee and British Animation Award winner Dave Ingham (Lucas the Spider, Chip & Potato, Mush Mush & The Mushables), Jo Clegg (Hey Duggee, Gaspard & Lisa), and James Phelan (Oddbods).

Blippi Returns to The UK With Blippi: The Wonderful World Tour

Following the success of the 2023 Olivier Award nominated UK debut show, Blippi: The Musical, a new live show, Blippi: The Wonderful World Tour, will see the return of the vivacious, energetic, and educational antics of global sensation Blippi to stages across the UK. The production opens at the SEC Armadillo, Glasgow on 8 July before touring to Edinburgh, Barnstable, London, Peterborough, Oxford, Kingston, Portsmouth, High Wycombe and Hull until 23 September.



An overarching and diversified strategy

Licensing Magazine interviewed Mark Kingston, Senior Vice President of Global Consumer Products, Zag Entertainment, to know more about the company’s licensing strategies, the latest news and future plans.

You have recently joined the ZAG family as senior vice president of global consumer products. Could you briefly tell us what your journey in entertainment has been so far, and what aspects of your experience would you like to share with the new enterprise?  My entertainment journey started at the BBC, working on classic kids’

brands in the publishing, DVD, and audiobook space. And then, I moved to The Walt Disney Company, and was fortunate to work on some of their most iconic entertainment brands over eight years. At Viacom International Media Networks, and subsequently Paramount Global, I worked across several business units including

Nickelodeon, MTV, Paramount Pictures, Comedy Central etc., and was involved with multiple industries from toys to apparel, homewares to publishing. One big takeaway across the board is that consumers and fans love to experience their beloved characters in real life, and therefore physical shopping is never going to migrate 100% online. While e-commerce penetration accelerated during the pandemic, subsequently the industry has witnessed a re-balance and a dip in overall percentage share of online vs instore. We are a resilient industry to a certain extent, bringing the glitz, glamor, and excitement of entertainment to retail and fun to consumers’ shopping experiences.

Julian Jacob Zag Mark Kingston

How are you organizing your work with your team of colleagues and collaborators?

Working together with Julian Jacob Zag, the company’s EVP Global Operations and Head of Consumer Products, the standard approach is to assess and understand the franchises, the team, the organizational structure, and identify key growth opportunities across categories, retail channels and markets. We’ll work on efficiencies, and create strategies to successfully support the ZAG Heroez brands across all markets.

What is your licensing strategy, and will there be specific approaches for the different territories?

We have an overarching global strategy for our franchises, and then take a culturally relevant approach to implementation across each region/ market. We work with appropriate local partners including retailers, agents, and licensees to meet the socioeconomic needs of different markets with price- appropriate products that are accessible to all fans, while at the same time maintaining the quality that fans expect from ZAG.

What are the new licensing trends that companies should concentrate on?

We are actively focusing on experiential location-based experiences. Embracing the demand for more experience at retail, we’re excited to have our first Miraculous escape room at a shopping mall in Brazil. Collectibles continue to be a trend in high demand, providing accessibility via entry price points. Launching at retail this year are the Miraculous Chibi Mini Playsets from Playmates Toys and ZAG inspired by the viral phenomenon Miraculous Chibi Shorts on YouTube. And we want to explore further how our brands can

be utilized in non-traditional categories for licensing, such as clip licensing, financial products etc. We are also looking to build on the nostalgia and the anime factor, as original ZAG fans grow older.

Which IPs are you focusing on, and which product categories will be given special attention?

Naturally, we continue to focus on our flagship brand Miraculous across all categories but especially toys, apparel, homewares, publishing, dress-up, and location-based experiences. I see tremendous opportunity to expand the brand in fashion by delivering the latest trends from the catwalks of Paris! We are also currently expanding our apparel business with key partners Bentex, Hybrid, Jerry Leigh, Isaac Morris, and Poetic Brands

We’ve recently signed some exceptional deals for the brand. In addition to the Miraculous Chibi

Mini Playsets which will launch this fall, other global partners include Hyperkin who will be launching branded game controllers this summer, and Kodansha is publishing manga. They join other global and multiterritory partners including Ferrero, Panini, Rubies, Blue Ocean, Amscan, PEZ, and Tonies. And for a 2024 launch, PLAYMOBIL® will offer a wide range of playsets and seasonal toys presenting popular scenes from the series in the PLAYMOBIL® aesthetic.

We also have two significant promotions that are ongoing. The first Miraculous breakfast cereal is available from Kellogg’s at grocery stores across the U.S., and PUMA has launched a line of Miraculous-themed clothing and footwear globally.

In the U.S. a novelty Miraculous ice cream mobile vending program


launched pre-summer from Blue Bunny; Miraculous pet toys are at retail in the U.S. from Zippy Paws; and in the U.S. and U.K., Miraculous is available for the first time as a cuddly bear from BuildA-Bear Workshop. These are just a few highlights as we have over 400 partners across the globe with new product launches happening every month!

And for Ghostforce, top priorities are toys, publishing and dress-up. Products are already available and selling well at retail in Europe with magazines from Blue Ocean at retail across the continent, and books from Panini in the Germany, Switzerland, and Austria region. Rubies will soon launch a costume range across Europe, with Audiobooks and DVDs coming from Edel in the GSA region. In LatAm, the consumer products program launches for Halloween 2023 with 18inch figurines of the heroes and villains as well as costumes from Novabrink And Xalingo will debut wooden toy products alongside luggage, backpacks, and lunch boxes from Dermiwil, ice cream from Lolla Sorvestes, and experiences from C&E

Ghostforce has exceptional visibility on Disney Channel across EMEA and on TF1 in France, and Discovery Kids in LatAm. Ghostforce launched on Disney Channel in Germany on Sept. 20, 2021, and it immediately became market leader on all commercial kids’ channels on its premiere run in the 15.00 time slot, maintaining its position when moved to the 19.45 slot. And in France, where the series debuted on TF1 in August 2021, Ghostforce achieved an audience share of over 35%. The series premiered in Latin America on Discovery Kids in 2021, except for Brazil, where is premiered the following May, ranking amongst the channels top programming for the kids 4-8 demographic.

There is big news for one of your flagship IPs, Miraculous, with the recent release of the fifth season and the arrival of the new record-breaking film in cinemas. What are the latest L&M partnerships?

We are so excited that this summer, the animated musical Miraculous: Ladybug & Cat Noir, The Movie a superhero blockbuster for the whole family—will debut. Directed by Jeremy Zag and produced by ZAG and Mediawan Kids & Family, the movie takes fans on a journey of discovery, the origin story of how two ordinary teens embarked upon their superhero destinies! This epic quest full of action, comedy, music, and magic, set against the dazzling backdrop of Paris, will launch on Netflix on July 28 and theatrically in select countries. The theatrical roll-out will commence early July in France by SND and in Germany by StudioCanal, as well as China, Belgium, Switzerland, Poland and the Eastern Europe region, Russia, Greece, Turkey, and Israël.

Multiple promotional partners are involved for the European theatrical releases. In Germany, StudioCanal has secured partnerships that involve fruit from Fresh Del Monte, branded water from Volvic; baked goods from Dunkin Donuts, and yogurt

from Fruchtzwerge, to name a few. And France’s SND has secured partnerships that include quickservice restaurant Areas; and national public transit operator RATP; and in conjunction with TF1, national toy retailer JouéClub; and a special Miraculous Movie book from Hachette. We also have a global auto manufacturer on board that will soon be announced.


It continues to be important to engage fans with live experiences. Are you planning something new inspired by your properties?

Yes, this is an area we are actively engaged with and working on – and we are always open to ideas and opportunities in this space. Some of our activities include the annual Miraculous Day that previously has been celebrated across Latin America, that will become a global event this year. To celebrate this day, we work with media partners and consumer products and retail partners for themed content, products, and instore displays and experiences.

And we’d like to extend the Miraculous Runs that have been so popular across the LatAm region to other countries – they are a great way to encourage family activities as well as exercise while engaging with Miraculous through character appearances and themed product kits including t-shirts and breastplates. And in Mexico, a Miraculous live show from Gerardo Quiroz Producciones has performed exceptionally well and will be rolling out

in other countries across LatAm over the coming months.

Last year, Prestige Events launched a Miraculous Cruise on the River Seine in Paris that was so successful that the company will relaunch the cruise this summer. And Space Toon is bringing

family entertainment experiences to MENA through live shows, meet and greets and more.

We are also in several discussions around more permanent experiences where fans can fully immerse themselves into the world of Miraculous around the globe which we hope to announce very soon.

What we can expect from ZAG in the coming year?

We are currently in production on Melody, an animated feature directed by Jeremy Zag, starring singer, songwriter, and actress, Katy Perry in the title role. The feature is produced by Jeremy Zag, Cross Creek’s Tyler Thompson, Katy Perry, and Michael

Gracey  Melody will take audiences on an adventure of song, laughter, and heroic quest with her Seven Dwarveslike musical notes that help guide her moral compass.

Looking to the future, we have ten movies in development with Cross Creek, including Fairy Force, an animated musical that follows a little fairy coming from the forest and landing in the middle of Central Park who comes face-to-face with the witches of New York City;  Ghostforce, a live-action movie based on ZAG’s worldwide hit TV series, and developed alongside Michael Gracey; Ladylion, an animated musical to be developed in collaboration with global wildlife ambassador Dean Schneider, who inspires and educates his millions of followers across the globe about the beauty and importance of our planet’s wildlife; and Choco, a hybrid live-action musical.



Studio 100: Vegesaurs, the new licensing highlight

STUDIO 100 Vegesaurs is a successful IP that helps children see everyday fruit and vegetables in a fun new light, and most importantly, encourages healthy eating.

Vegesaurs has two seasons, each with 20 x 5’ minute episodes for children aged 4 to 7. Season 3 is currently in development.

The story revolves around core themes for young children, such as  mealtime, making friends, playtime and much more. Since its Season 1 premiere on ABC Australia in May 2022, Vegesaurs has successfully launched in many more countries, including France, Finland, Sweden and Canada, and has quickly established itself as a TOP 5 preschool programme in key territories.

In February 2023 Vegesaurs launched on CBeebies (BBC) and the BBC iPlayer

in UK, with millions of viewers in  its first week alone and with very positive responses from the audience and the press: “Vegesaurs is a mealtime game changer for everyone who needs a helping hand when it comes to healthy eating for kids”.

A wider consumer product roll out is commencing this year, starting with iLOVE SNACKS in the UK, to launch a range of Vegesaurs fruit & vegetable all natural snacks with NO added sugars or preservatives.

Vegesaurs also lands in bookstores thanks to the international master publishing partner, Pan Macmillan, who

will bring several titles to the UK, starting with two picture books in July, followed by  two story board books this autumn.

The news doesn’t end there.

BrandLoyalty (international licensee for loyalty programmes) saw the potential of Vegesaurs early on and there will be a big loyalty campaign with retail partners in various European countries this summer/ autumn, accompanied by extensive advertising activities. In even more news, Sony Music has signed a deal for a German audio drama.

Currently, Studio 100  is in discussion with potential Master Toy Partners, as well as other exciting partners, for the Vegesaurs IP, with more to be announced.


Smurfing the American market

As the Las Vegas Licensing Expo approaches, The Smurfs are celebrating their 65th anniversary with big announcements in various product categories, with a special focus on the American market.


The Smurfs TV series continues to be very popular in many parts of the world. Season two is currently broadcast on Nickelodeon in the US. The next episodes will feature on AfterToons, a new daily animated block airing every afternoon during the summer.

As of May 1st the first season has been available on Netflix in North America and Latin America, as well as in many other territories like Italy and Australia. The launch was very successful with the series entering the top 10 most viewed show globally in its first week, becoming the number #1 most viewed animated content. In Brazil, it went straight to #8

on the most viewed programs in its first week, a fantastic start for a kids’ show.

There is also much anticipation for the upcoming Smurfs Musical film, slated

to be released on February 14th 2025. A major announcement was made during CinemaCon in Las Vegas in April: Rihanna will be voicing the iconic Smurfette, creating music and songs for the film, and will also be involved as a producer.

The Smurfs Tv series - Season 2. Top image: Sprayground x The Smurfs Rihanna at CinemaCon © Paramount

Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies have partnered with IMPS and LAFIG Belgium for this new Smurfs movie, which will be directed by Chris Miller (Puss in Boots, Shrek the Third…). Additional casting details are expected to be announced over the summer.

Gaming Publishers Microids and IMPS have announced that the video game Smurfs Kart will be released for PlayStation

4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S on August 22, 2023. The game was developed by Eden Games - a studio renowned for its actionpacked racing games such as Gear, Club Unlimited, Test Drive Unlimited and V-Rally - and is already available for Nintendo Switch. The game features 12 tracks set in the world of Smurfs (including places like The Village, The Dam, The Forest and even Gargamel’s house!) plus 12 playable characters from the classic franchise of everyone’s favorite tiny blue creatures, Handy, Hefty, Smurfette, Papa Smurf, et al. Each character has its own kart and special item to help you win. You can play solo or invite up to four players to join you in split-screen local multiplayer mode. There is also an addictive “Time Challenge” mode where you can test your skills against every other Smurf racer and compete online for first place.

Microids and IMPS are also thrilled to announce The Smurfs 2 – The Prisoner of the Green Stone, the new 3D adventure/platform game, set to be released in Q4 2023 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC.

Developed by OSome Studio, the new game has an all-new story which is a sequel to the previous one released in 2021 by the same studio, The Smurfs – Mission Vileaf. Handy Smurf has created a revolutionary invention: SmurfoMix! However, it’s missing a key ingredient, the Green Stone, which lays in the greedy clutches of Gargamel.


The all-new BE@RBRICK x The Smurfs collectibles by Medicom Toys will be released worldwide in June. The first two figures are The Purple Smurf and The Astrosmurf, available in both 100% and 400% sizes.

In July, Schleich will also launch their new six-figure collection. Additionally, the new American partner Maestro Media has planned a Kickstarter campaign set to begin in September 2023 for their upcoming Smurfs board game! Finally, Jazwares will add to the excitement with a Master Toy line slated to hit the North American Market in 2024.


This summer marks the start of an exciting new collaboration with Sprayground, the American backpack

BE@RBRICK x The Smurfs The Smurfs 2 – The Prisoner of the Green Stone The Smurfs 2 – The Prisoner of the Green Stone

and accessories company. The famous brand has created interesting original designs for its Smurfs collection, with a truly pop culture-inspired approach.

Butter Goods, the skatewear brand from Australia, dropped a nostalgia collection, bringing together classic pieces and accessories with the playful blue characters and cartooninspired graphics. The Butter Goods x The Smurfs range, available in stores and online, includes t-shirts, hoodies, crewnecks, knit vests, pants with prints, caps and velvet pillows.

The street fashion collaboration with AAPE brings together classic characters such as Papa Smurf and the charming and adventurous Smurfette, in a series of fun and cute T-shirts celebrating the iconic blue color. This AAPE x Smurf collection also includes men’s, women’s and kids’ styles designed for smurfy families.

The  Dsquared2 x The Smurfs collection, launched in April, shows the optimistic personalities of the little blue characters mixed with the signature styles and fabrics of the Italian brand. For this line-up, Handy Smurf, Brainy Smurf, Vanity Smurf, Papa Smurf and Smurfette are drawn with a new Dsquared2 style element—the red maple leaf.

The collection includes men’s & women’s RTW and accessories, made under the  environmentally responsible  One Life One Planet  Dsquared2 line.


Smurfs have planned to promote exciting food products. Starting in June, the new partner KGR distribution will bring novelty candies to the North American market, as well as Central and South America. The range comprises packaged food and confectionery and will be distributed in comic book retailers, airport stores, department

stores, mass market supermarkets, and more!

Another partner, Flix Candy, will bring confectionery containing surprise toys and smurfy pop-up lollipops to the US market, all to be released on shelves in June.

Health and Sustainability

This year, a brand-new line The Smurfs Kids Vitamin Gummies was launched on Amazon in the US by Growve in collaboration with Healthy Lifestyle Brands. The vitamin gummies are made with real fruit, developed and formulated under the guidance of a medical doctor. Initially only available online on Amazon and with great reviews, it will now start hitting US retail stores.

The Smurfs are proud to partner again for the #EUBeachCleanup campaign, a global initiative of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE), with EEAS and the United Nations, that will run from September 16th (International Coastal Clean-up

Day) until October. To join this effort, several events have already been announced in various locations around the world; local organizations have also been invited to organize their own activities.

Preview Las Vegas

At the upcoming Licensing Expo in Las Vegas (June 13-15), The Smurfs will be eagerly awaiting fans and potential partners at booth M214. To mark the occasion an exciting new style guide themed around classic US sports such as American football, baseball, basketball, and ice hockey, will be unveiled. Additionally, a separate style guide dedicated to the Paris 2024 Olympics is also being developed. At their booth, visitors can expect to see a range of lifestyle figurines such as the Bearbrick collectibles. Additionally, an NFT project created together with French artist André Saraiva will also be on display. The Smurfs will also participate in the new fashion zone with three special fashion collaborations – including two sustainable collections. Furthermore, The Smurfs and Azerion have been nominated at the Licensing International Excellence Awards in the category “Best Sustainability Initiative” with the games The Smurfs Ocean Cleanup and Village Cleaning.

The Smurfs Kids Vitamin Gummies #EUBeachCleanup campaign


The international success of Bing

Licensing Magazine interviewed Katie Rollings, Chief Licensing Officer at Acamar Films to learn more about the latest activities and next plans for the international pre-school brand, Bing.

How has Bing become one of the top Preschool brands in the UK and internationally?

It is mainly because of its authenticity. Bing centers on the true experiences and reactions of pre-schoolers and celebrates the simplicity of the everyday. It is a child-centric show, the micro dramas that play out in every episode reflect the reality of every child, which is what makes it globally relevant. Bing is truly about seeing the world through the eyes of a child: the audience sees itself reflected in Bing, and through


With Acamar, we have been working together for many years now. A strong partnership that allows us to speak effectively to purchasing managers and the trade. Integrated marketing activities have ensured strong brand awareness of the entire toy line and made the product instantly recognisable on the shelf. Over time, Bing has thus become one of the most loved brands by small children in Italy. him the viewers become able to make sense of their own development and also the world around them, and to do it in their own way. I consider that this is really what sets Bing apart. In this post-pandemic world, the parents are defining different priorities. Now it is much more about the EQ, rather than the IQ: the importance of building mental, emotional and social skills has never been more urgent. Bing has never been more relevant, because the parents

ACAMAR FILMS Katie Rollings

are looking for tools to help build their children’s emotional resilience. In my opinion, Bing really has a great purpose, which is why it is one of the top pre-school brands in the market.

Which are the key markets of this brand?

We launched Bing in the UK back in 2014, and now we are excited as we come into 2024, to be celebrating our 10th anniversary. We have seen huge success over the years in the UK, and success on YouTube and BBC iPlayer where Bing is a top requested show. With a great number of licensees and good products at retail, we are building out our experiences to find new ways to connect with our audience. The UK is our primary market and where we premiered. I would say another important market for us is Italy, where Bing is the number 1 most streamed


HarperCollins is the master publishing partner of Acamar Films for Bing. LM asked Annabel Walwyn, Media Brands Editorial Director, and Veronica Re, Rights Manager at HarperCollins, about the Bing publishing.

Which products do you develop with Acamar?

As master publisher of Bing, HarperCollins Children’s Books has spent the last ten years cultivating an excellent working relationship with Acamar create best-in-class publishing for the brand. We have developed a huge range of successful pre-school formats in

all shapes and sizes. Each title aims to help children learn about the world around them through the experiences of Bing and his friends with relatable and authentic storytelling and soft learning. Since our publishing launched in 2014, we have created 26 picture books, 6 board story books, 6 annuals, 16 activity books and 23 novelty and gift formats.

What results are you achieving?

We have sold over 5.4 million Bing books globally. We have created more than seventy titles in the UK. In the international arena, Bing has been translated into 14 foreign languages and has sold more than 3 million copies across all non-English markets. Our partners are very committed and publish a variety of formats spanning from story books to treasury bind-

ups, from lift-the flaps to moving tabs, from sticker albums to colouring books.

Veronica Re Annie Walwyn

pre-school series on the RaiPlay platform. We have over 1,200,000 YouTube subscribers, and we work with Maurizio Distefano Licensing as our agent in the market.

The same can be said of Poland and the CEE markets, where we also have over 1,000,000 YouTube subscribers. We have had fantastic store openings in Hungary, a great success with our cinema events and strong retail performance.

Another key market has been the Netherlands, where we had sold-out theatre shows, and a strong consistent retail performance. Recently, we are very pleased to have had a strong content launch in France. We have seen strong viewership which is paving the way for us to drive a licensing focus as we go into 2024.

This international growth is a huge priority for us over the next 3 to 5 years. There are still several big markets in



Giandiego Coloru, Marketing Director at SIMBA TOYS ITALIA S.P.A.

Our collaboration with Acamar dates to 2020. Together with them we developed 4 Bing-themed products: two scooters, one tricycle and a kitchen.

We are very happy with the partnership with Acamar: the results we have achieved in recent years thanks to Bing have been absolutely positive: in particular, Bing scooters have been among the bestselling in Italy in the category.

Giandiego Coloru

which we plan to launch. Our approach is a gradual rollout to achieve longterm growth, with a robust localization strategy.

You have built an incredible network of partners. Could you quote some of them in Europe?

We have a large network of incredible partners across numerous product categories and our content platforms. And if I were to call out one or two, and not in any particular order, we obviously have Golden Bear, who is our Master Toy partner, distributing throughout Europe. We work with HarperCollins and have had a very long-standing relationship with them, as they are our Master Publishing partner. We work with other European licensees such as Giochi Preziosi and Clementoni. We



Starting from 2018 we have developed Bing products for infant and pre-school targets in several categories, as educational games, puzzles, board games and electronic educational games. Bing has been our best-licensed pre-school IP over the last five years. Our achievements are very

are hugely glad about our partnership with Leolandia, which we are excited to launch as we go into next year, and we are still continuing to explore additional opportunities with other partners, continuing to find new ways to engage and innovate.

Which are your goals at the Licensing Expo?

The Licensing Expo comes at the absolute perfect time. It allows us to meet with everybody in a much shorter and concentrated period of time, where we can share our vision and plans, explore those new opportunities and really excite partners with what is to come.

We are very keen to start sharing our plans around the 10th anniversary of the UK launch of Bing, which we really feel

satisfying. With one and a half million pieces produced over the years, we have reached all sales channels at the distribution level and some products have climbed all the sales charts in the corresponding categories, especially puzzles and educational games.

Federica Iezzi, Licensing & Marketing Manager at Lisciani Giochi Fedrica Iezzi

is a huge opportunity to celebrate the brand’s endurance and look ahead to the future.

Italy is one of your key territories, following the UK. According to you, how did you get such a great fellowship for Bing in this region?

Bing’s Montessori-inspired approach to child development places emphasis on more child-led self-directed and handson learning, and collaborative play. This aspect is well recognized by Italian audiences and resonates very well with them.

We have also had incredible support from Rai on Rai Yoyo and Rai Play, as well as Rai Radio Kids.

As I mentioned earlier, we have an incredible partner in Maurizio Distefano Licensing, who really sees the value of




In the Leolandia theme park, we offer Bing products in our shops. We sell a lot of Bing’s merchandise, produced and distributed by official licensees. Moreover, we also plan to develop co-branded licensed products, to provide our guests with truly unique memories of their Bing experience at Leolandia. The partnership with Acamar is a long-standing one and it is destined to have a long way to go. Bing arrived at the park in 2019 as a temporary IP, but we immediately saw its great potential. We have many values in common, and this is the reason why we have signed a multi-year agreement that will see the development of a dedicated, highly experiential themed area over the next few years.


Alessandra Cittadini, Licensing Business Development Leader at Clementoni

Clementoni has totalled 17 Bing licensed products launched on the Italian market since 2020, ranging in different toy categories. Additionally in 2024 we are releasing a product novelty which combines Bing’s world with fun learning. Each of these games aim at fostering children’s logic, coordination and observation skills while having fun with their beloved friend Bing.

Our licensing partnership with Acamar has shown good results with a stable performance through the 3 years. Bing is very beloved by little kids, and we believe that it has all the potential to establish in the long-term among the classic characters for its target audience.

Alessandra Cittadini



Bing, one of the strongest franchises in their portfolio. We work incredibly closely with them, and we are delighted that we have sustained the brand’s success over the last five years, and we look forward to continuing that.

Which are your next plans and projects for this brand and Acamar?

We acquired a very broad publishing licence to build a full-bodied and heterogeneous editorial plan. We are very satisfied with the sales results and the cooperation with Acamar, as we share info, activate synergies and support promotions together with them.

We are building new and innovative ways to truly bring the essence of Bing to life beyond the screen, through great products and engaging experiences. We are working to accelerate partnerships and promotions and using the 10th anniversary as a way to reinforce what Bing is all about, and to celebrate not only the legacy, but what is to come in

Bing is the ideal IP for our catalogue because it combines commercial appeal with highquality content allowing us to build a long-selling publishing project.

the future.

We are looking at what else we can do in the experiential field, creating special memories for families.

We are continuing to focus on our already established publishing programme, so there is a lot that we want to do, and our international rollout and growth are of huge importance.

Beatrice Fini

Spreading love for the Smurfs through Blue Resin

Based in Belgium, Puppy is a toy and game distributor serving the Benelux region. They are also the IMPS’ sister company, distributing and producing various Smurfrelated merchandise. In 2021 they established the Blue Resin brand, which was focused on creating resin Smurf figurines.

The Story of Puppy

The Puppy company’s story began with Peyo and the Smurfs. The author Peyo’s daughter Véronique Culliford took over the little blue guys’ commercial exploitation after they quickly gained popularity, allowing Peyo to focus solely on the creative process.

In 1985, Véronique founded Puppy (in reference to Baby Smurf’s dog), to distribute Smurf figurines, plush toys and other merchandise in the Benelux. Puppy is proud to have Schleich (which has been producing Smurfs figurines since 1965) as its flagship brand not only for the Smurfs but for its entire lineup.

new stylish product available for the international market.

Blue Resin is dedicated solely to the creation of Smurf hand–painted resin figurines, because in fact it is born to conserve and celebrate these cherished characters that have brought joy to people all over the world. Each figurine is realised with great care and attention to detail, reflecting the charm and character that have made the Smurfs iconic.

The unwavering commitment of Puppy is to continue this treasured legacy, bringing happiness and nostalgia to Smurf enthusiasts everywhere. They approach their work with a deep sense of responsibility, aware of their fans’ trust. Puppy has expanded its business over time, distributing several toy brands in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.

Since 2009, in addition to its distribution activities, Puppy is producing Smurf license products, and currently realizes resin and vinyl figurines, plush, and merchandise.

The Blue Resin brand

In 2021, Puppy create the brand Blue Resin for their new line of products, the figurines, with a special connection to the enchanting world of The Smurfs Puppy, as a company always been tied to the Smurf license, took inspiration to honor the legacy that has captivated hearts for generations, creating a

With their resin figures, they provide quality at an affordable price for every little or big collector. Their aim is to create enduring memories and leave an indelible mark on the history of the Smurfs.

The First launch of the brand provided


Blue Resin is dedicated solely to the creation of Smurf hand–painted resin figurines, because in fact it is born to conserve and celebrate these cherished characters that have brought joy to people all over the world. Each figurine is realised with great care and attention to detail, reflecting the charm and character that have made the Smurfs iconic.

The unwavering commitment of Puppy is to continue this treasured legacy, bringing happiness and nostalgia to Smurf enthusiasts everywhere.

10 Classic Characters of about 11 cm. The Blue Resin brand can already boast important figures: more than 7800 pieces sold in 100 stores over 10 countries, with a beautiful collection already counting 15 figurines (5 new figurines every year).

A company in constant evolution

Since the beginnings, Puppy has never stopped evolving. From the very start, it has among its key features a creative and logistical team

All images:

in-house, and a familiarity with licenses It provides an excellent quality/price ratio on the market, carrying out unique projects.

Puppy is now looking to grow its global partner network by searching for distributors, especially in the US



Miffy. Iconic by design, Playful by nature

2023 is a year for Miffy to already remember after high profile collaborations with Tommy Hilfiger and Mulberry, but there is so much more happening.

Capturing familiar little stories and a love for colour connects Dutch artists

Johannes Vermeer and Dick Bruna.

The Rijksmuseum curated the largest Vermeer exhibition ever held globally which was accompanied by the publication of Miffy x Vermeer, a book introducing children to the world of art. The long anticipated first UK Miffy pop up store was opened near West-end’s China Town in London. Tailored for UK fans and tourists this shop saw people queuing for a fortnight and is still beating expectations ever since. Visitors are treated to Miffy’s world with UK exclusive products, a unique offering of plush in a multitude of fabrics, patterns and colours and limited-edition London & coronation products.

On the other side of the Atlantic Miffy town opened its doors in Kentucky, USA.

This location-based venue is created for families and offers activities and themed workshops based around Dick Bruna’s design philosophy and Miffy’s world. Visitors can grow flowers, listen to stories, dance, play and buy exclusive products. A special theme is Miffy in the green whereby children and caretakers can connect with nature and get their hands dirty.

Continuing our journey in a westerly direction we arrive in Geoje Island, South-Korea. Set in a scenic harbor near a culturally historic site a new Miffy Café will open this year. Situated in a beautiful architectural building this meeting ground for young adults will offer a dedicated shop, full themed menu and many touch points to interact with Miffy and her creator Dick Bruna. In 2016 the original Miffy museum was Miffy x


split in two experiences, a museum for families with children and Dick Bruna’s atelier for (young) adults. However quite quickly it became clear that the annual 200.000 plus visitors exceeded expectations and capacity. After the opening of a temporary museum and major renovations in the last 2 years the completely refurbished museum will open on June 21st, 2023 (Miffy’s 68th birthday). Doubling in size it will incorporate its own Miffy café, a theatre experience, projection area, new theme rooms, teaching programs for primary schools and attention for children with special needs to further enhance the experience.

Following successful collaborations with Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas, Speedo and Mulberry we will also launch a Miffy X Kipling capsule collection and continue our partnership with skateboard brand Pop Trading in the second half of 2023.

About Dick Bruna and Miffy

Miffy was “born” on 21 June 1955, when Dutch graphic design artist Dick Bruna first drew the character to entertain his young son whilst on a rainy seaside holiday in Holland. The series of picture books which followed used simple illustrations and rhyming text to explore the universal experiences of childhood, immediately earning Bruna international critical acclaim as an illustrator, author and artist.

68 years later, the Miffy books have sold more than 85 million copies, and are currently published in more than 50 languages.

Exhibitions, merchandise, media, collaborations and special projects support Miffy’s global explorations. Through highly integrated business units in the fields of publishing, media and licensing Mercis continues to share the timeless appeal of Dick Bruna’s design philosophy. For Miffy’s global explorations and more information about Dick Bruna’s life and work, visit or contact

Since 1955 Miffy evolved from a book-based character into a symbol for simplicity, fun, design and quality. Mercis’ mission is to ensure that these uncomplicated, innocent, positive and open to new experience values are omnipresent in all our global partnerships and applied from the youngest age possible.

Miffy Pop Store in London, UK Miffy Café in Geoje Island, South Korea Miffy Café in Geoje Island, South Korea Miffy Museum

Nelly Jelly Sets New Trends in Children’s Education and Entertainment with Innovative Campaigns and Quality Content

Nelly Jelly, also known as Kake Make in its home market, has captured the hearts of children in Lithuania and is set to make

even more significant impact this year.

Nelly Jelly’s success is not just limited to entertainment but also serves as an example of how to educate and engage children in a fun and creative way. The kids-first approach has enabled the brand to set new market trends and provide a relatable character that resonates with children.

Book turned national brand

From the beginning, the Nelly Jelly character and her stories have evoked a strong response from children, answering some of their fundamental questions and encouraging their creativity and imagination.

As the brand creators started to recognize the potential for expansion,

they began exploring new avenues to bring the character to life, including theater, YouTube, consumer products, movies, and now squishy toys. Today, Nelly Jelly is a national brand in Lithuania, with a loyal following of young readers. The success of Nelly Jelly is a testament to the power of quality children’s content.

Character sparks curiosity

Characters like Nelly Jelly present a fun and engaging way for children to learn and be inspired while imaginative storylines capture their attention and fuel imagination, encouraging them to explore and ask questions about the world around them. Parents and educators can use this national

phenomenon to foster a child’s curiosity, allowing them to learn while having fun. The consumer loyalty program recently introduced by Nelly Jelly in collaboration with a prominent retailer in Lithuania helps to nurture children’s emotional and psychological development and encouraging them to embrace their wide range of emotions.

‘“We are delighted to establish a partnership with this successful brand that has achieved tremendous success in the local market.”
- Guillem Rey, Managing Director at Caravanserai Partners -

Campaign for emotional development

“We are always trying to find new ways to entertain and educate children while keeping up with current global trends and considering children’s needs. With this campaign, we hope to help children identify and understand their emotions better,” says Greta Stankutė, the brand development manager.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about significant changes, like isolation, that have made it difficult for children to identify their emotions. The campaign, available in local retail stores, is just one of the many ways Nelly Jelly reaches out to children.

The campaign features two types of products, a sticker book and a squishy plush, that offer an engaging way for children to develop their emotional intelligence. The sticker book encourages children to identify and reflect on their emotions like jealousy, sadness, fear, anger, love, and shock,. Each sticker features a character representing a different emotion and teaches how to deal with it.

Squishy plushes of children’s favorite book characters, including Nelly Jelly, the Mess Mess Gnome, dog Choo Choo, cat Pirate, and monsters Onster and Ponster, have become cherished companions for kids, by bringing a touch of magic into children’s everyday routines.

Blockbuster movie taking over box offices

Nelly Jelly: My Movie film’s success has created a new niche in the market that caters to an audience as young children between two and three years old. The film has captivated children by adapting six different Nelly Jelly books and stories into a single cohesive storyline. This younger audience has allowed the

Nelly Jelly brand to expand its target market and establish itself as a leader in children’s entertainment.

The Nelly Jelly movie’s enduring appeal has surpassed even the most highly anticipated films of the year, including The Super Mario Bros. Its unique ability to appeal to children and adults showcases the brand’s proficiency in keeping up with global trends in children’s entertainment and creating quality content that stands the test of time.

Eyes set for global expansion

The brand’s creators are now seeking global animation studios to co-produce an animated series based on children’s picture books.

Nelly Jelly has recently partnered with Caravanserai, a renowned licensing agency based in Spain, to start its global expansion plans. Caravanserai has a strong reputation in the licensing

industry, having worked with popular titles such as The Little Prince and Popeye. The partnership provides a gateway for Nelly Jelly to enter the Spanish market as they look to publish their books in the region.

Guillem Rey, Managing Director at Caravanserai Partners said: “We are delighted to establish a partnership with this successful brand that has achieved tremendous success in the local market. Our collaboration with Nelly Jelly aims to expand her licensing program and introduce consumer products beyond her home country.”

This partnership is a significant step forward in Nelly Jelly’s expansion plans, and it is a testament to the brand’s commitment to bringing quality children’s content to audiences worldwide.

Nelly Jelly is now ready to showcase its potential to the global market, as it prepares to make an appearance in major events such as Cartoon Forum, Brand Licensing Europe, Mipcom, and MIP Junior. With its proven track record, Nelly Jelly is poised to become a successful IP worldwide. Contact Information

Brand development manager

Greta Stankute

Phone: +37068775532



Room for acquisitions to intercept new targets

Maurizio Distefano Licensing has once again been named Italy’s No. 1 licensing agency for the second year in a row. In fact, it is License Global’s annual ranking that sees it top in the country, then placing it 2nd in Europe.


Both the level of professionalism and the roster of licenses always in the top positions in market surveys, together with successful case histories, make the agency the first point of contact for brands that want to approach the Italian licensing market. The portfolio that caters to kids is always represented by the series most followed by the target audience, on which Maurizio Distefano Licensing is sewing ad hoc and proven successful licensing programs. Acamar Films’ Bing, BBC Studios’ Bluey, CoComelon along with all the other Moonbug brands continue to take pride in increasingly dense licensing programs. The agency’s strategy, however, is also to open up to new target audiences, such as teenagers and young-adults. This year’s new acquisitions fully meet that goal, and this article elaborates a focus on these new additions.


Fall Guys is a free for all multiplayer party royale video game with crossplatform functionality, developed by Mediatonic and published by Epic Games, in which players compete in increasingly chaotic rounds of obstacle races until only one lucky winner remains.

The video game is available for PC and consoles (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S). The free-to-play game launched in June 2022 and was one of the most successful releases that year, reaching 20 million players in just 48 hours and taking the record for the most downloaded video game on PlayStation. It still boasts millions of players today, and each of them can create their own avatar by choosing from a variety of costumes, and new packs related to different themes are

released periodically. These include collaborations with music, film, television and fashion brands. This, too, has fostered player involvement, making Fall Guys an instant hit among streamers and content creators. Fall Guys already has an established licensing program with several partnerships in foreign markets such as Bandai, Spirit, EXG, Character World, Pyramid, Bioworld, WOW Stuff, and others. The program is also expanding into major markets such as in North America, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Japan, Korea, Germany, France, and the Iberian Peninsula. The property’s style guides are beautiful and colorful, allowing them to create impactful products that are instantly recognizable to consumers.


The Moomins are a carefree and adventurous family who live in their house in the peaceful Moominvalley. They are central characters in the works of celebrated and beloved Finnish author and artist Tove Jansson who created the magical and fascinated stories and designed location and characters from scratch.

Moomin is a values-led brand, with three core values at its heart: love, equality and courage. The main character is young and curious Moomintroll, who goes through the important stages of growing up with his extraordinary family and quirky friends who live in the magical and protected world of Moominvalley. But at times, the Moomins venture beyond the Valley into the vast wilderness, traverse dense dark forests, land on mysterious faraway islands and climb lonely dangerous


mountains engaging viewers in their adventures at once familiar and extraordinary. There is always a happy ending to the stories. Jansson, in fact, wrote during World War II so it was important to her to express a feeling of serenity and confidence.

Nine books were released in the collection, together with five picture books and an extensive series of comic strips between the years 1945 and 1980. The Moomins have since been the basis for numerous television series, films and even theme parks. The stories have been translated into more than 55 languages and are still in print all over the world today.

Moomin Style Guides are represented by all the writer’s original drawings plus some restyled collections with different

stylistic touches featuring also patterns and lettering. The magic of these assets brings to product a unique elegant and dreamy style.

“Moominvalley” is the animated series based on Moomin, produced by Gutsy Animations in association with Yle and Sky. Moominvalley has been sold to over 60 countries to date, including Finland (Yle), UK (Sky), Japan (NHK) and Germany (ZDF). In Italy is available on Rai Yoyo and Rai Play. The series was awarded the ‘Audience Episodic Award’ at the New York International Children’s Film Festival 2022 and was also nominated for the British Animation Awards 2022.

Moomin has the potential to cover a wide target audience with Consumer Product, making it appealing to multiple

licensing categories: from adults, with its artistic and colorful Style Guides, to children with the CG series Moominvalley.

Arabia’s special edition of Moomin Mugs

the most valuable NFT collections in the world, which boasts famous and prominent personalities from the worlds of sports, entertainment and music such as Eminem, Jimmy Fallon, Justin Bieber, Post Malone and others among its buyers.

Army of Apes brand, now available for licensing, consists of a selection of the most significant and famous monkey illustrations made available to offer a unique opportunity, namely the chance to collaborate with the NFT world and reach out to the web’s most famous monkey fans. Army of Apes license is inspirational and available for several product categories, such as apparel, homeware, and accessories.


Army of Apes is the brand consisting of the collection of famous NFTs that are part of Bored Ape Yacht Club, made available for the licensing market. The Bored Ape Yacht Club is a collection of 10,000 NFTs launched in April 2021 to which belong illustrations featuring anthropomorphic apes that are distinguished from each other by a

number of distinctive features, making each illustration unique. Each Bored Ape is generated by a program that mixes 170 different possible distinguishing features including facial expressions, clothing, headgear and other accessories, and some combinations are rarer than others. These NFTs have been worth more than $1 billion so far by turning out to belong to one of

These brands are new additions to the agency’s extensive offering, which - to complement the children’s target audience - also boasts names such as Gigantosaurus and ALVINNN!!! And the Chipmunks and, for the adult target audience, LIFE, International Space Archives, La Gazzetta dello Sport, Baileys, Guinness, Albert Einstein, Charlie Chaplin and the whole world of music.


Key points of DeAPlaneta Entertainment’s strategy

DeAPlaneta Entertainment is an established global company that provides all audiences with an extensive selection of quality entertainment that combines creativity with innovation.

As explained by CEO, Ignacio Segura de Lassaletta, production and brand building are some of the company’s

Milo - Cover image: MetaGuardians

main objectives: “One of our goals is to continue developing and growing our role as brand creators, with exciting

projects such as season two of ‘Milo’, the ‘Monster Shaker’ and ‘Magic Lilly’ series, and the ‘Superpigs’ series and feature films, among many others.”

According to Segura de Lassaletta, DeAPlaneta Entertainment’s strategy for the properties in its portfolio is based on three key points. The first one is to strengthen linear and multi-screen distribution and the direct dialogue with users through AVOD/FAST channels: “Current audience fragmentation makes it much more difficult to make a strong impact and for an IP to become a benchmark brand. This requires a change in business strategy.” For DeAPlaneta Entertainment, it’s important that the properties in its portfolio are on all possible media channels and platforms: not just on linear television or SVOD platforms, but also on YouTube, AVOD/


FAST channels and across the whole gaming sector, through smartphone apps or Roblox. According to Segura de Lassaletta: “If you don’t have a presence on all those screens, you are significantly reducing the chances of users seeing your brand and therefore the chances of it becoming relevant.”

The second key point is to strengthen the internationalization of the company DeAPlaneta Entertainment is a multinational entertainment company that operates globally and is a strong leader in Europe. It has commercial offices in Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Poland and Greece, as well as in the United States. According to Segura de

Lassaletta, “the company has grown significantly over the past five years as a player in key territories such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Latin America.” DeAPlaneta Entertainment represents IPs with a global reach such as ‘Miraculous Ladybug,’ one of the flagship properties in the company’s portfolio. But they also co-produce animation series that can be enjoyed worldwide, such as ‘Milo’, a successful preschool animated series coproduced by Fourth Wall and DeAPlaneta Entertainment, which is already available in four continents and has generated dozens of licensing agreements, including a Master Toy deal with Bandai. Following its première in China last January via Mango TV, ‘Milo’ has expanded to more than 30 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean thanks to its premiere on Cartoonito, a linear and subscription-based multi-territory children’s channel operated by Warner Bros. Discovery Latin America.

The third and final key point is the development of digital strategies for the brands it represents. Segura de Lassaletta states that “we are facing a new paradigm. In a multi-screen world, our goal is to also become a

benchmark in the digital environment, creating strategies that take advantage of opportunities in the Metaverse as well as through the world of NFTs. DeAPlaneta Entertainment’s strategy for this new scenario is to conceive “niche” IPs that are rooted in the digital world and which flourish in that environment and, if possible and profitable, reconvert or adapt them to the physical world.” For this reason, years ago DeAPlaneta Entertainment created a digital business division, DeAPlaneta Interactive, whose main goal is to create and expand digital universes linked to the properties and brands in the company’s portfolio. This division is carrying out the most innovative business initiatives: gaming, augmented reality products, virtual reality, NFTs, etc.

“In this area,” Segura de Lassaletta comments, “we have also developed digital native IPs such as ‘Wonderpals,’ a brand created by artist Mina Pal in 2021 that has become one of the major IPs on the web3 environment, and ‘MetaGuardians,’ the first collection of Metaverse superheroes.” ‘MetaGuardians’ is an ever-expanding universe of superheroes, villains, sidekicks, and henchmen that first

came to life in 2021 as an NFT collection created by two brothers, Antubel and Bernal Moreda. Antubel Moreda is the designer of popular games such as Plants vs. Zombies, Bejeweled and Zombie Gunship Survival The first ‘MetaGuardians’ launch following their incorporation into the DeAPlaneta Entertainment family will be the publication of a first issue of an exclusive six-edition NFT comic book collection in June 2023. This brand’s upcoming projects also include the development of a new game and an increased presence in all corners of the Metaverse, with a collection of interoperable assets that work on all platforms. With this acquisition, DeAPlaneta Entertainment plans to consolidate the brand’s major position in English-speaking markets, and to continue to expand the MetaGuardians universe and characters into a global entertainment brand.

Magic Lilly Monster Shaker

Marvel Mission Arena: new plans on the way

Cicaboom’s Marvel Mission Arena Trading Card Game hasn’t slowed down since its launch last year. In fact, it has continued to evolve on the strength of its growing success with the launch of new cards, targeted marketing campaigns and an eye towards thriving new digital platforms such as Twitch.

The Marvel Mission Arena Trading Card Game was introduced at the Lucca Comics & Games event in October 2022, where the first two Special Holo cards were launched as single releases for the occasion. The game has grown in popularity ever since, including online. The product combines the appeal of the Marvel brand’s iconic superheroes and super villains, with a multi-layered depth of gameplay ideal for the enjoyment of children aged 6 and up, as well as the expectations of the most demanding gamers.

This year the Cicaboom-based card game will be adding lots of new features, first and foremost the new

wave Unlimited Edition called W1U The Unlimited Edition will replace the First Edition (which will only be available until August 31st), with a launch of new limited edition holographic cards. Some of the cards from the First Edition (16 from the Ultrarare and 16 from the Secrets range), will then go out of production to further increase the value of the collection.

New and exclusive cards will be introduced into the Marvel Mission Arena game to supplement the card selection The Unlimited collection will also include two new low circulation rarities: Epics and Legends. The odds of finding an Epic card will be 1 in 50 packs, while for the Legends it will be 1 in 500.

The new cards in W1U will feature Marvel superheroes and villains in novel graphic designs with original, neverseen-before illustrations.

The Unlimited Edition is not intended

to be a blanket replacement of the first edition of the game, rather an enrichment and enhancement of the game launched in 2022.


The launch of W1U and the introduction of new exclusive cards and rarities is meant to make the new edition more attractive. The Holo Cards included with the 10-card packs also changed from three to two cards.

But the news doesn’t stop here for Cicaboom and its Marvel Mission Arena. July 2023 will see the launch of a new mini-collection of eight new Holographic Epic Cards, four of which will also be in maxi format (13.3 x 18.7 cm) presented in four themed Special Packs with MAXY CARDS. And in September 2023 there will be the much-anticipated launch of Wave 2

Another strength of the card game is undoubtedly its extensive presence at major events. In fact, four special cards have been created specifically for exclusive release at these events, for example Lucca Comics & Games.

Marvel Mission Arena has also been updated with another important tool: an integrated platform within the Cicaboom platform where users can view event schedules, see match rankings and, for retailers, manage their own profile and organised matches. The platform, available digitally on the app as of March 2023, further improves

the gaming experience by allowing players to watch video tutorials, read the F.A.Q. section, scan Marvel Mission Arena product news, and manage their player profiles.


Cicaboom carried out an extensive marketing campaign for Marvel Mission Arena on various channels, including non-traditional ones. In addition to TV spots aired on the Publitalia, K2, Boing,

Cartoonito, and PRS Cartoon Network channels, various digital tools were also used. The marketing campaign focused on digital platforms frequented by their target audience, like Twitch

As a result of its interactivity and the ability to interact with streamers, the purple platform has become a meeting place for the young and old for years. The latter group specifically have become increasingly prominent figures in the field of digital promotion. Cicaboom was able to utilise Twitch and its users to seek out the most influential broadcasters in the card game industry: “We very much wanted to use this tool in the pre-launch period to target early adopters from a specialised core target audience.”

Twitch’s platform provided Marvel Mission Arena with a great stage with planned live broadcasts on some of the biggest Italian channels including InnTale - a channel that has millions of unique users per day, or Dario Moccia, with nearly half a million followers.

Cicaboom’s digital campaign was not limited just to Twitch. Marvel Mission Arena was promoted extensively on other social and video platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok as well. Several content creators and influencers, like Giuseppe Barbuto and Visio TV, were also involved in the marketing plan resulting in millions of views on social media.

Another feather in the marketing campaign’s cap is of course the significant presence of the card game at events and fairs via initiatives such as To Be a Card, as well as promotions at schools and Marvel movie premieres.



The magic of licensing

The latest news from some exhibitors at the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas (Mandalay Bay Convention Center, 13-15 June).

Sesame Street (booth F188), produced by the nonprofit organization Sesame Workshop, continues to deliver unexpected surprises, introducing new collaborations that bring the iconic brand closer to fans. Just Play, master toy partner for North America, EMEA and LATAM, and a major supporter of Sesame Workshop’s Emotional WellBeing initiative, began rolling out their new Sesame Street line in core Toy categories. New global partnerships include DK Publishing, launching a must-have first encyclopedia for little learners who are curious about the world and love Sesame Street, and a continued global partnership with Medicom Toy, adding new collectible Bearbrick designer figurines. Super7 is leading the charge for Sesame Street’s entry into adult collectibles with the launch of their 16” SuperSize Count von Count figure. Sesame Workshop enjoys a new master publishing partnership with PRH for China. Copper Pearl’s first licensed collaboration consists of 75+ items in their buttery soft fabrics, from bandana bibs to swaddles, all adorned with Sesame Street characters. Inspired by modern streetwear, Cakeworthy

drops a 12-piece Sesame Street line with matching sets, accessories, and dresses. Sesame Workshop and Rockefeller Productions debuted the Off-Broadway production Sesame Street the Musical featuring live puppetry,

iconic songs fans know and love, and new compositions by Broadway’s brightest songwriters. Oscar the Grouch was named United Airlines’ first Chief Trash Officer. United’s campaign is designed to promote the expected benefit of sustainable aviation fuel.

Sesame Street the Musical Sesame Street Potty time Elmo

Among the latest announces of Mattel (R180), the virtual collection Boss Beauties x Barbie, featured on Designed to celebrate the 250 careers represented in the Barbie line, the collectibles feature the familiar signature style of Boss Beauties with an iconic Barbiecore™ look. This collaboration with Barbie propels Boss Beauties, the first womenled web3 company who’s been featured in the halls of both the New York Stock Exchange and the United Nations, one step closer to achieving its mission of onboarding the next 1 Million women and girls into a web3 world.

Barney’s World, Mattel’s forthcoming CG-animated preschool series, will debut on Cartoonito on Cartoon Network and stream on Max in 2024. Coproduced by Mattel Television and Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana, Barney’s World will introduce the iconic character and friends to a new generation of children and families through fun adventures filled with dynamic characters, music, and stories that highlight love, community, and encouragement.

Mattel, in partnership with Warner Bros. Pictures, recently debuted the latest teaser of the Barbie movie (to be released on July 21, 2023), along with the launch of 24 brand-new character posters, the film’s teaser poster, a Barbie selfie generator and TikTok lens extension, and an official Twitter emoji. The teaser welcomes fans everywhere to Barbie Land, giving viewers a peek into the world of Barbie through the lens of renowned director Greta Gerwig and the on-screen power of a star-studded cast.

The D.O.M. Family, the USA-born and parent-loved, 35+ Year leading Juvenile Product company joins hands with leading global toy company Mattel to bring parents and new families the biggest Juvenile collections comprising convertible cribs, mattresses, toddler beds, gears and more. The licensing venture sees the launch of two unique collaborations – Fisher-Price by Dream On Me and Barbie by Evolur

Hasbro (G170) announced the new partnership with Ageless Innovation, a global company devoted to reimagining how we positively live and age together through the power of play. They announced their plans to reimagine three classic board games made by global branded entertainment leader, Hasbro, including The Game of Life, Scrabble, and Trivial Pursuit, available for purchase via most major retailers and also distributed through select

Healthcare partners from June

The Game of Life Generations invites players to “pick a generation and play!” The newly imagined version features the Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z.

Scrabble Bingo includes 3-Gamesin-1, with two new ways to play, Scrabble Bingo and Scrabble Pass, plus Classic Scrabble. Most notable is the


introduction of new easy-to-grasp tiles, specially designed to be easier to handle and see during play. The brand-new Scrabble Bingo adds a Bingo flair to the traditional game, while Scrabble Pass incorporates a 30-second sand timer, encouraging constant action during gameplay.

Trivial Pursuit Generations taps into fans’ enduring love of the hallmark Trivial Pursuit, and features generationspecific trivia, with 1,500 all-new questions.

Banijay Brands (F196), part of content powerhouse Banijay, controls the brand licensing rights to some of the most high-profile and creative IPs in the world. From entertainment and scripted to animation and game shows, Banijay’s diverse portfolio offers commercial opportunities in multiple categories. Banijay is home to over 130 production companies across 21 territories, and a multi-genre catalogue boasting over 160,000 hours of original standout programming.

Banijay Brands represents some of the biggest global brands including the award-winning anthology Black Mirror;

the iconic reality format, Big Brother; one of the biggest animated YouTube sensations of recent years, Simon’s Cat; adventure-reality stalwart Survivor; global game show phenomenon, Deal or No Deal; action-packed family entertainment brand Wipeout; and

globally loved animation Mr Bean Banijay Brands has recently extended its partnership with MSC Cruises for its immersive entertainment MasterChef experiences, MasterChef at Sea and MasterChef at Sea Juniors, onboard cooking programmes mirror the global

TV phenomenon. In collaboration with Peaky Blinders series-owner, and producer, Caryn Mandabach Productions, has announced the extension of its partnership with Black Country Living Museum, to 2025, to host the hugely successful showthemed live experience nights.

Sony Pictures Entertainment (N214) hosts Sony Pictures Television – Kids (SPT – Kids), (formerly Silvergate Media), which will be showcasing its highly acclaimed and award-winning slate of children’s television properties including The Creature Cases and Octonauts: Above & Beyond as well as unveiling an exciting and fresh pipeline of content. Hot on the heels of the global premiere of Chapter 3 of The Creature Cases on Netflix, SPT – Kids’

Peaky Blinders The Creature Cases 3 Mr Bean

Octonauts: Above & Beyond

hit animal detective series, SPT – Kids will also outline plans for new consumer product retail launches and live events partnerships in key territories worldwide. On the other hand, Sony Pictures Consumer Products is announcing an impressive lineup of licensees in tandem with new film and television launches. Across its iconic properties, this roster of licensees includes major names in retail, food and beverage, toys and games, and more.

The iconic multi-media Ghostbusters franchise continues to deliver exciting new content and collaborations as it approaches its 40-year anniversary in 2024. Just ahead of Licensing Expo, the franchise commemorates Ghostbuster’s Day on June 8.

To celebrate the premiere of the upcoming Gran Turismo film, the first silver-screen adaptation of the best-selling PlayStation video game, a robust lineup of licensees will be unveiled including die-cast vehicles, apparel, accessories, specialty retail and e-comm.

Walker Books and Candlewick Press (N258) are celebrating 30 years of Guess How Much I Love You with a $300,000 global marketing campaign! Since publication in 1994, it has become a contemporary classic, with over 55 million copies in fifty-seven languages across all formats worldwide, the basis

of a worldwide licensing program. Aquarelle Publishing’s limited-edition prints of exclusive Jeram artwork will launch Q4 2023 in the UK, and new UK licensee Stickerscape will debut a new product. Rainbow Toy will expand its line with premium large and little Nutbrown Hare gifting plush.

Jainco is creating gift sets of children’s nightwear with mini books and door hangers, to be available at TK Maxx in the UK, Ireland, Poland, the Netherlands, Austria, and Germany, and the profits will be donated to children’s charities. Longtime apparel licensee Dennicci and retailers Sainsbury’s and Asda have new baby apparel lines in development.

In Germany, an exclusive line of ceramics and giftware from DTR has launched with bookseller Thalia; Miles is developing a set of lunchware exclusively for Aldi and Hofer; Promotion Pets has a new deal for products being developed for the animated series shown on Kika. Bekker & Blitz will be expanding Benelux offerings.

In North America, Kids Preferred has new products including a GHMILY My First Storytime Set (summer 2023) and a line of wooden toys. Hatley has a new color wave for their Books to Bed sleep sets, and Boxine has additional distribution and support for Toniebox products. Clothworks, Storiarts, and Carousel Calendars contracts were renewed.

The iconic, globally recognized brand B.Duck (D220) has joined forces with Stephanie Kupperman at Licensing 360 to bring the IP to the U.S. licensing market. For the first time, the characters B.Duck, Buffy, B.Duck Baby and more, are available for U.S. consumer product partnerships and collaborations. B.Duck

GHMILY My First Storytime Set by Kids Preferred

BLE 2023 celebrates the LBE theme

Brand Licensing Europe (BLE) brings together thousands of leading manufacturers, retailers and marketers with the widest range of brands available for license in Europe for three days of deal-making, inspiration, networking and trend spotting. The big licensing event returns to ExCeL, London, on October 4-6 and visitor registration opens online in June. 140 companies are already confirmed to exhibit including Paramount, Bravado, Jazwares, Capcom, Tour de France, Rights & Brands and MGA Entertainment. The Pokémon Company and Hang 10 will have an increased presence at BLE, and Spanish license Stor, BioWorld and The Wombles are exhibiting for the very first time. The location-based entertainment (LBE) theme will be woven into the following visitor features: LBE-focused keynotes on Wednesday Oct. 4 and Thursday Oct. 5; LBE Pavilion, a Goliath of a stand at 400 sq m (the size of two tennis courts), will house up to eight exhibitors showcasing immersive and inspiring LBE content that visitors can walk through, around and interact with; exhibiting inquiries are welcome from brands and licensees, with tailored packages available for show floor exhibiting and non-exhibiting companies; LBE Stage, spotlighting a series of impactful and engaging, crowd-drawing LBE moments throughout BLE’s three days; and finally LBE-themed show entrances

is not new to licensing. The brand was conceived by Eddie Hui in 2005 and inspired by the real story of 30,000 rubber duckies that fell into the Pacific Ocean in 1992, and bobbed halfway around the world landing in places such as The Arctic, the shores of Japan, Australia, Indonesia and South America. Now, nearly two decades later, the brand has amassed over 400 licensees in categories ranging from high-end fashion collaborations, to home décor, collectible figures, live events and NFTs. Furthermore, the brand has a rapidly growing fanbase of 20 million worldwide. All consumer product categories are to be had, with over 1,200 style guides.

Among IMG (G144)’s clients are Epic Games’ Fortnite, for which recent highlights include its first-ever makeup line with Revolution Beauty, its first hydration collection with Simple Modern and a new line of trading cards. IMG has facilitated a number of deals for Spellbound (Skydance Animation,

2024) to date, including a sleepwear, bath and fragrance collection with Centric Brands; a bedding deal with Franco Manufacturing; an apparel and accessories line with Bioworld PMI Ltd

is set to launch a global Spellboundthemed toys, plush and stationery line. Skydance Animation has also partnered with Spin Master as their Master Toy Partner to develop a Spellbound toy line that is expected to launch at retail in 2024, as well as a line of figures by Funko Pop!, and more!

Set to hit movie theatres on November 17, 2023, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes marks the return of one of the most popular entertainment franchises in recent history.

In deals facilitated by IMG, Lionsgate plans to launch themed apparel with American Classics; costumes, costume accessories and a pet costume line with Rubies; and a range of eclectic movie-themed merchandise with Rubber Road, including collectible ducks, lamps, advent calendars and Christmas sweaters.


Licensing Works!® (H102) showcases a variety of cherished iconic brands.

Eric Hill’s treasured preschool property Fun with Spot™ and Raymond Brigg’s heart-warming story of The Snowman™, two of the most beloved classic franchises from Penguin Ventures, present evergreen opportunities.

Moulin Rouge®, birthplace of the French CanCan and the #1 dinner-and-show venue in the world, celebrates 135 years in 2024. Moulin Rouge! The Musical continues to shatter Broadway and local box office records as it tours the U.S. and abroad.

The Little Prince® is one of the world’s most iconic books, selling more than five million copies annually. New Entertainment, new Immersive Experience Tour, new Publishing Partners, new Collectibles, over 40 North American Licensees… and more!

The Little Prince and Friends™ is a new television series, based on the iconic book, set to broadcast worldwide from Mediawan Kids & Family.

Winchester Mystery House® is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2023 with a wonderful line up of merchandise and promotional partners, including apparel, games, bath, publishing, seasonal and retail.

Zorro® has multiple new live-action episodic TV series launching in 2024 including an Amazon Prime series from Secuoya Studios/Mediawan and a Disney+ series starring Wilmer Valderrama. 2023 is the 25th anniversary of The Mask of Zorro

Jewel Branding & Licensing (C134) is focused on compelling licensing programs as well as creative services that can help manufacturers and retailers stay ahead of the curve.

In 2023 The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) brand has seen significant growth globally, particularly in apparel and fashion accessories. New partnerships in Japan include New Era for headwear, Mash Style Labs for sleepwear and Toyoshima and Logic Co. for apparel and accessories. In the US, the program also includes bath & body, fragrance, tea, home textiles, stationery, puzzles & floral subscription service. Celebrating five years of collaboration with NYBG, Tea Forte launched the Jubilee Collection, bringing together the best of past collections with a selection of jubilant commemorative tea blends. Jewel has signed several new clients that will be debuting at Licensing Expo. Tea Forte is an award-winning, innovative brand known for their luxury tea products and distinct flavors. It is committed to providing their customers with the highest quality teas, crafted to perfection. With an emphasis on health and wellness, Tea Forte’s products are designed to provide an indulgent experience with each sip. Categories available for licensing include teaware, tabletop, food & beverage, experiential, gift and décor, spa and wellness, home fragrance and health & beauty.

EttaVee x Enesco - Jewel Branding & Licensing Jubilee Collection


Interview with Paul Robinson

Licensing Magazine interviewed Paul Robinson, President of Kartoon Channel! Worldwide, Genius Brands International, to discover the latest novelties and to find out what he thinks about the new digital landscape.

How did the AI-created Kidaverse Fast Facts come about, and how is going the audience’s reaction a few months after its announcement?

Kidaverse Fast Facts is a series of short animated educational stories featuring characters such as History Henry, Science Sally and Sporty Steve. We wanted to create some interactive experiences for kids: we operate a linear channel, a FAST channel and a VOD channel, but we wanted to find a way in which kids could interact with content, creating proposals that were differentiating. We started experimenting with 3D content and to provide children registered on the app with customised avatars, to help them to find their way around. We called all of that metaversal and interactive content Kidaverse We thought to experiment

also with AI and ChatGPT in particular, to support children’s learning. Kidaverse Fast Facts therefore emerged from this creative universe.

The project has just started in the US, and so far the audience reaction has been very good. A Cambridge University’s research said that Generation Alpha’s children are happiest when they feel they are doing well: with Kidaverse Fast Facts we can help them to do a bit of maths or history when they are watching TV. This is just meant to inspire kids to think more about everything, then go on research online or to their textbook or ask their parents further questions.

Another AI-generated project, Minis based on the IP Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club, is now also in

production. Could you tell us more?

Warren Secret Millionaires Club is a full-length animated show co-created by the business magnate Warren Buffett, appearing as a cartoon version of himself. It was born to help children understand how to be financially responsible. It answers some important questions, for instance, How do you save up the money? If you get a new job when

Paul Robinson

you are a bit older, you know how much money should you get, and how you spend it?

Also in these new shorts, we would like to give children little tips and help them think about money, because it is important. To be honest, many children may not know who Warren Buffett is, but If parents know him, they will recognize he is a reassuring authority in conveying good information around financial literacy.

There is a big debate going on right now about the different uses of Artificial Intelligence. In your experience, how can and should AI be utilized in creative work?

There are many prejudices about AI, with a lot of people saying AI is terrible, is going to destroy jobs, and is not creative. But of course, AI is everywhere in our lives, and I think the important thing is that we use it to better our humankind. In my opinion, you can’t produce content just with AI, it is not a replacement for human beings. It is a tool, in the same way that Google or, in the old days, an encyclopaedia. In our work we are using AI for basic research, and we have done also some voicing, but the final curation is always done by producers and editors.

In an increasingly digitised society, what role do you think linear TV can play in the world and in the American market?

Some parents want to limit the time kids spent on screens. Of course you need to have a balance, to be outside and

playing with friends, but the screen and digital media are here to stay, and the little ones love them.

Kids and all of us watch TV as a great source of entertainment, usually talking about what we have seen, originating a shared experience at school, or in the office. TV’s not going away and can still be a container of positive values Now people talk about kids and linear TV declining, but on our US Kartoon Channel! app there is a linear channel that is played when you access the app, and that is watched very often. When we asked the children why during a survey, they explained that find it quite easy and did not feel like choosing a programme in the VOD services. The same experience can also happen to adults.

How far has Kartoon Channel! spread globally today? Genius Brands recently entered into an agreement with Star Times, for expanding in Africa… We have been in North America, US and Canada for about two years and currently, we are rolling out internationally. With Star Times we are now present in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Africa, in around 40 countries The platform has been advertising the shows in shopping malls, and we have been doing promotions in schools, with Kartoon Channel!-branded water bottles to give to kids.

In the last year we have arrived in Australia, New Zealand, Maldives, Philippines, Germany. We will be launching next in some Asian countries (Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia) and we are also having conversations in other European countries.

How are you continuing to build your distribution and content strategy?

As a company, we believe in valuedriven content, but also in innovating. Children are generally watching shorter shows, episode durations are coming down, and their attention span is more difficult to get. You must really grab them in the first few seconds, and we are generally finding now that stories are 11 minutes, not 22 minutes.

Another point is that kids are smarter at tech than we are as adults, and they are not intimidated by it. We are therefore trying to be wherever they are: Smart TV, mobile phones, connected device, etc. We are working to innovate our distribution and content strategy, so that we keep up because the different consumers are smart and they have choices: we need to make sure that they choose us.


Interview with Maura Regan

On the occasion of the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, Licensing Magazine had the pleasure of interviewing Maura Regan, President of Licensing International, and learn more about how this important association, which provides important services to the licensing industry, is structured, as well as getting the point of view of a senior industry expert like Maura on the main current industry issues.

Licensing International will have a major presence at the Licensing Expo with a dedicated area for its members. In addition, the US event will be also the opportunity for the association to celebrate the much-anticipated Licensing Excellence Awards. The ceremony will be held on 12 June.

Can you tell us what is Licensing International in a few words? Where are you based and some figures about the association.

The licensing industry is all about creating connections between brands and consumers. Licensing International’s mission is to support licensing practitioners around the world in every aspect of that work, and to help those outside of our industry understand


the incredible power of intellectual properties.

Licensing International’s more than 1,500 member companies hail from over 40 countries. Members include executives from all sides of the business, including brand owners, manufacturers, retailers, agents, lawyers, approval software companies, and accounting firms.

While Licensing International is based in New York City, it is a truly global organization. Team members live and work in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Additionally, representatives are located in Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the Nordics to connect directly with members all around the world.

What do you offer to international companies interested in becoming your members?

In addition to providing exclusive research and in-depth analysis of the trends, opportunities, and obstacles facing the global brand licensing industry, Licensing International also organizes local events in partnership with its representatives and member companies to create opportunities for licensing practitioners to network and gain insights.

In your opinion, what is the state of health of the US Licensing industry today? How are retail and licensees changing their approach through brands and IPs? Are they more demanding? Developing, and strengthening, this relationship is more important than ever. Consumer habits have shifted significantly, which means the licensing industry is adjusting in response. And while there is concern about declines in consumer spending and inflation, it’s clear that brand loyalty is a major differentiator. Consumers are willing to spend on the brands they love, especially when their purchase reaffirms

the connection they feel for that property.

As a result, categories like locationbased entertainment, sports, and music (with a specific focus on concerts and

To find out about the services offered by Licensing International, please visit

related consumer products) are showing significant strength despite shrinking discretionary spending. And across the U.S., sales of licensed merchandise and services continued to grow throughout 2022. The industry displayed so much innovation in the past year, managing to maintain consumer interest despite the fact that lockdowns have ended and families are spending much more time outside of the home

and away from the screens they use to shop online.

This creates a significant opportunity for retailers to continue to grow brick-andmortar experiences that bring brands to life and increase engagement. Because online shopping is so convenient, consumers now have a different set of expectations for their in-person shopping experiences. In fact, a number of the expectations developed by consumers in recent years are expected to carry on throughout 2023 and into 2024. Sustainability, for example, continues to be a priority—especially for Millennial and Gen Z consumers.

Which are your expectations about the upcoming Licensing Expo?

The entire Licensing International team looks forward to examining these trends and many others at the 2023 Licensing Expo at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. Taking place from June 13 – 15, this event is an opportunity for licensing professionals from around the world to gather together to share insights and best practices, network, form partnerships, and launch upcoming consumer product offerings. This year’s Expo is focused on fashion, and will showcase the incredible innovation taking place in that category.

Which are the international key events where you are actively present?

Other key upcoming events include Future Megatrends (July), Brand Licensing Europe (October), and Sports Licensing Summit (January). We hope to see you there!

“Developing, and strengthening, this relationship is more important than ever. Consumer habits have shifted significantly, which means the licensing industry is adjusting in response”

Looking Ahead: Retail Trends for 2023

Over the past few years, the retail industry has seen significant turbulence, from supply chain restrictions to exponential eCommerce growth, and changing consumer habits. And, despite inflationary pressures, consumers continue to spend on more than just essentials, splurging on things like travel, restaurants, and experiences.

These factors have built a resilient retail industry: having overhauled ancient systems in favor of agile operating strategies during the pandemic, retailers are well-positioned to keep pace with the changing landscape of retail. Moving through 2023, retailers will need to implement a variety of strategies to remain competitive in an evolving marketplace.

Social Media Dependence

In 2023, there are about 4.9 billion global social media users online, more than half of the world’s population. In the US and abroad, consumers are using social media to research, review, and influence retail purchases. Retailers can leverage this social media presence to monitor brand sentiment – analyzing how consumers interact

with and talk about their brand online. This data can be used to engage with consumers and identify how they feel about competitors. Monitoring online interactions can inform decisions that improve customer experiences, stand out from competitors, and even predict future trends.

Synchronizing Customer Data

Consumers are demanding more from retailers, so to remain competitive, companies must provide a smooth and seamless shopping experience. From online, in-store, through social media, or live stream, consumers are interacting with brands in many locations. To effectively meet this demand of the modern consumer, companies need a holistic view of customer data that is consistent across business functions from customer support, merchants, social media teams, and other departments to enable them to make accurate, timely decisions.

Personalized Shopping Experiences

In 2023, customers expect a shopping experience that is tailored to their unique wants and needs. In fact, “hyperpersonalization” is even becoming the


norm for some companies. This ultrapersonalized customer experience can include virtual try-ons, tutorials tailored to specific shoppers (companies can leverage TikTok, trending videos, and user-generated content), and personalized recommendations. These efforts help a customer for more connected to a brand and deliver an experience that is unique to them, which can foster brand loyalty.

Store Design Shifts

The design of physical retail locations continues to evolve in a post-COVID world. For some, especially large-format stores like Walmart or Target, this means an exploration into downsizing. While this can mean smaller stores, it can also mean using space differently, such as for fulfillment centers for online orders. But, changing designs can also bring new features and experiences to a store. For example, Target has entered into a partnership with Ulta that will bring Ulta Beauty to hundreds of Target locations. This makes it easier for customers to shop for higher-end cosmetics and keeps them in-store longer, a win-win for both the consumer and the retailer. Other brands like Nike are changing designs to implement

interactive elements. For example, its flagship store features unique floors that include season merchandise and its “Sneaker Lab.”

Moving to the Metaverse

Brands are also thinking outside the box when it comes to ways to engage with customers. As new technologies like the Metaverse emerge, they can be

leveraged as a way to make shopping experiences more engaging. In Fall 2022, fashion retailer Tommy Hilfiger debuted its “See Now, Buy Now” collection. While a physical fashion show took place in New York, users of the game Roblox could virtually try on the new styles with their avatar and walk a virtual runway. These types of events provide a new way for brands to interact with consumers and reach new audiences.

Improving the Return Process

Some retailers have seen a significant increase in the number of returns over the past few years. This can be an excellent opportunity to improve the customer experience. According to a Crate and Barrel executive, over 70% of

returns go back to stores, which can be turned into an opportunity to connect with the customer. Retailers can provide return incentives such as a coupon on the return receipt, eliminate return fees, provide free shipping on exchanges, or provide bonus cash if a customer opts for a store credit. A better return process can make the difference between turning customers away from future purchases and building customer loyalty.

For retailers, leveraging these trends is an essential component of staying competitive in the evolving retail landscape. Ultimately, consumers are expecting more of the companies they choose to shop with – providing personalized experiences, improving the return process, enhancing retail design, and prioritizing social media, among other strategies can help retailers engage with customers and strengthen relationships.


10 Trends to Define Fashion in 2023

Fashion can (and does) change as quickly as the weather, with each season bringing forth the latest “must-haves” and trends to follow. Despite the quickmoving nature of the fashion industry, some trends stand out for the year ahead, including vintage-inspired looks, eyecatching colors, among many more.

2023 Women’s Fashion Trends

90s Gunge: For 2022, Y2K was on trend; everything from butterfly clips to Brittany Spears and miniskirts. In 2023, we’re going back another decade to the 1990s. Rather than the “angsty” teenage look, according to the Zoe Report, this year is about a grown-up approach to

the look. This trend is about achieving a moody unpolished look, characterized by dressing down in durable clothing. This can be characterized by plaid flannels, band tees, acid-washed denim, and combat boots. Ultimately, the style is practical and has room for personalization that can make the style unique to each consumer.

Daring Denim: Experts anticipate a resurgence of denim-on-denim styles as well as new ways to incorporate denim. On the runways, designers debuted looks made from denim dresses, boots, pants, and shirts, making way for the Canadian tuxedo to renter wardrobes across the country. Even once these trends fade, denim itself is always a classic, so anticipate timeless, versatile styles to be popular that can be worn for years to come.

Sparkle and Shine: Another notable trend is metallics, and not just for a night out. Rather than full ensembles,

metallic is making its way into closets in the form of stylish separates that can be paired with jeans. Silver looks to be an especially trendy color, as it can double as a neutral to brighten up any outfit. For a less daring look, metallics can be subtly incorporated by choosing fabrics that weave in strands of glittery silver or gold.

Skirts to the Max: With 2022’s Y2K fashion, miniskirts dominated look books. But for 2023, maxi skirts are making a comeback. These practical skirts are anticipated to play into other trends, made of materials like denim or adorned with cargo-pant-like pockets. However, skirts made out of satin, velvet, and bold prints are expected to be a hit as well.

Bold, Vibrant Colors: Bright colors are a major trend from the year, with cobalt blue, magentas, and red in the forecast. On the spring and summer runways, cobalt blue made a statement; an eye-


catching yet refreshing color. According to Refinery29, this color also pairs perfectly with the Pantone Color of the Year: Viva Magenta. The color of the year is a bold crimson red that strikes a balance between warm and cool tones and can be used as a statement color or found in accessories to bring a subtle liveliness to outfits. Along the same lines is a classic red, which can be paired with neutrals. Other colors like black are always “in” but can be worked in with aforementioned trends like a 90s grunge look.

Vacation-Inspired Wear: For the summer, Bermuda shorts offer versatility that can be styled both for days at the office and lounging around. In Spring/Summer runways, both Chanel and Tom Ford showcased designs that featured the knee-length style.

Nostalgic Styles: While we know that Y2K was a hit last year and grunge is on trend this year, other time periods are also emerging in the fashion world. Styles from the 70s and 80s are likely to make a resurgence next, with 18% and 17% of consumers liking these styles the most. Another factor in these trends is comfort, as consumers are more likely to purchase loose-fitting wide-leg and mom jeans.

Top Men’s Styles

Loose Over Form-Fitting: Over the past decade, men’s suit styles were often very fitted. However, this is starting to change. Designed are skipping the highly tailored look, opting for looser silhouettes. Think suits of the 30s or 40s, relaxed with room to move, but not baggy or unkempt.

Vintage Threads: Much like when it comes to women’s fashion, vintage styles are trendy. For men, it’s all about the 80s and 90s look: bright colorblocked design. This includes classics like a Ralph Lauren polo shirt, retro aviators, and windbreakers. This is the same when it comes to denim. For 2023, one of the leading trends in men’s denim will be 80s-inspired styles: light-washed and slim, with a relaxed fit.

Athleisure is Always In: The pandemic shifted consumer habits in many ways. During its peak, athleisure was the top

choice for men working from home that wanted to be comfortable. In 2023, menswear will continue to be dominated by athleisure and choices will be fashionable yet comfortable.

As always, keeping up with rapidly changing fashion trends can be a difficult task. However, we anticipate that nostalgia will reign supreme, bright colors will leave their mark, and denim will always be in, among many other trends. And, as the year progresses, we will be able to see how companies make these trends their own.



How are Branded Experiences Shaping Up in 2023?

After lockdowns lifted, the appetite for live events returned in fullforce. In fact, the majority of brands report that they are back to operating as many, in not more, events than they did pre-COVID.

This is good news for the branded experience space, indicating health consumer demand for in-person events. Even dispite rising pressures of inflation, brands still deem experiences to be an important marketing investment. Here are some top trends in the branded experience space for 2023.


While not a new occurrence, pop-ups will continue to be an important experiential marketing tool for brands across the country. Companies can use pop-ups to make a big impression that delights consumers and delivers one-of-a-kind experiences. Earlier this year, Coach began its “Tabby on Tour” campaign, aimed at growing its Gen-Z customer base. In this unique event, the company stopped at college campuses around the US, where visitors could take a personality test to be matched with the

perfect bag, enjoy some free ice cream, and take home a friendship bracelet. This event was as eye-catching as it was inventive; just one example of how experiential marketing can be deployed.

Branded Art Installations

These types of experiences are unique in that they get customers to engage with a brand both physically and often online. Art installations can be great for getting organic attention and starting conversations. They also can prompt viewers to take pictures and share them online, resulting in social media exposure and engagement. If executed well enough, it can even go viral for maximum impact.

Hybrid Events

Event though there is a significant demand for in-person, hybrid events are still a valuable strategy to reach a larger

audience. Hybrid events can allow for greater interaction between attendees and can be driven by new technologies such as augmented or virtual reality. These events ensure that both people who are physically present and digitally present can be included in these types of events.

For 2023, many factor can influence the space of branded experiences. However, one thing is clear, customer interest is not letting up. To stand out, brands should create events that resonate with their audience to drive the most engagement and foster brand loyalty. Ultimately, these things can help brands devise new experiences that their customers want to attend, driving new sales and reaching new customers.



Retail, post Covid challenges and innovations

Despite the climate of uncertainty due to inflation and the lasting effects of the pandemic, retail is still a driving sector of the US economy.

As a result, many brands have developed strategies that have proven successful for their sales activities and have helped to overcome these complications.

One method that stands out in American

commerce is in-store technological innovation, as demonstrated by Nike with its Nike Live system that continues to sell products and attract new customers every day. Available in several cities across the US, Nike Live

allows customers to use digital devices to check the availability of products instore and pay for them without having to queue.

Another strategy used to attract shoppers is to focus on the circular economy, i.e. waste management. In 2021 Nike launched Nike Refurbished, an initiative that allows customers to return used shoes to the nearest shop to be refurbished and resold. In addition to recycling, Nike’s concept also promotes a sense of community, another strategic way to compete in the US retail sector.

Proximity, services, taste: what’s new

in the market in


Even before the spread of Covid-19, the US was one of the first countries to bet on smart-working, with large


multinational companies allowing their employees to work from home. Between 2019 and 2021, the number of people working permanently from home tripled (from about 9 million to 27.6 million), leading to the closure of several shops in large cities and the opening of businesses at non-centralized locations. Local shops have become a focal point for many Americans who now prefer to shop in their immediate area rather than going to a shop when they leave their office. DIY is one of the sectors that has benefited most from Americans staying at home, and several retail chains have taken advantage of this trend by expanding their offerings to include tools and products for the home and garden. Walmart for example partnered with the Glidden company to offer a new range of paints (interior and exterior) that includes over 100 ready-to-use colours and more than 3,500 custom colour options.

Beyond big cities, innovative solutions such as home delivery and click and collect have also developed in small towns. For example, for the opening of its supermarket in Denver Kroger offered a home delivery service with temperature-controlled vans and optimised routes that ensured that the freshest produce could be delivered to

customers’ homes. And Dick’s Sporting Goods (a partner of Nike), gives its online customers the choice of picking up their orders at a Dick’s shop, with the option of choosing the most convenient location based on distance. In large cities a sector that continues to generate growth is that of public establishments, such as bars and restaurants. As in other sectors, innovation and sustainability are essential strengths to win over new market share. Starbucks, the well-known coffee shop chain, launched a food and beverage delivery service with DoorDash last March and is working to make its shops more sustainable, for example by installing solar panels or water recovery tanks.

The potential of e-commerce and social media

While sales in physical shops are still struggling to recover, online sales continue to grow. According to the latest estimates, e-commerce revenue in the United States will increase between 2023 and 2027 by a total of USD 551.9 billion (+54.59%). The upward trend has prompted many brands to invest more resources in their online

shops and improve their shopping experiences. One example is Under Armour, which not only increased its overall sales by 3% year-on-year (USD 454 million), but also generated 46% of total business from e-commerce in Q4 2022. Social media can also be used to promote products. For example, for the expansion of its paint range Walmart launched the hashtag #PaintHack which has racked up more than 138 million views on TikTok. Social media can also be useful for presenting new products, such as when Starbucks used Instagram to advertise its Frappuccino line to American and Canadian audiences.


The eagerly awaited 2023 edition

Featuring thousands of new and unique toys, games, edutainment, entertainmentdriven experiences, licenses, and more from around the world, the New York Toy Fair continues to offer attendees a competitive edge no other trade event can match. LM spoke with Steve Pasierb, President & Ceo, The Toy Association, to know more about the muchanticipated 2023 edition.

looking forward to a Toy Fair® that will continue its 100+ year legacy of helping the industry build valuable business and networking connections while offering a reimagined show that best serves all in the toy and play community. The much-anticipated 2023 iteration will take place from September 30 to October 3 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City

What changes can we expect from the Toy Fair 2023?

that will require exhibitors to make products visible in at least 20% of their booth space. The initiative is designed to encourage exhibitors to create visually creative and inviting booths to welcome buyers, global press, and play professionals into their space. The most playful and attractive booths will be up for one of Toy Fair’s inaugural Reimagination


It has been three years since the last in-person New York Toy Fair. How have you worked during this period to keep the spirit of the event alive?

Our efforts during the pandemic, from the pioneering Toy Fair Everywhere digital platform to hosting retailer private previews, kept The Toy Association in close collaboration with our Toy Fair exhibitors and toy buyers. With 98% of available exhibit space already sold out (in mid-May), we are

This year’s show will feature several new innovations and enhanced opportunities for the entire global toy and play community.

One of the most exciting additions is a new visual merchandising initiative

What feedback are you getting from the industry on the new edition of the event, in particular for the new dates? Comments were increasing each year and it was clear coming out of Toy Fair 2020 that the February timing of Toy Fair was no longer ideal as development and sell-in calendars and retail buying cycles have progressively shifted earlier.

LM will be present as a Media Partner at the next NYTF with the Fall issue. Write to to learn more how to be protagonist in our next big issue!

Steve Pasierb

A great many were seeking a late August-September timeframe closer to when the majority of buying decisions were made and pre-holiday PR and consumer press could be leveraged — Things that Toy Fair in the media and financial capital of the world can deliver.

What are the latest retail trends you are observing in the toy industry? Did you plan to highlight them in some way within the fair?

Back to basics, authenticity, and pop culture influences are among the current trends. The importance of kidults also highlights how much more inclusive the play landscape has become; play is for everyone. At the show, you’ll see this idea play out through Toy Fair’s new “neighborhood” areas for product discovery, such as Pet PLAYce (featuring playful pet products), and new pavilions dedicated to parallel industries like Halloween

Will you have any special initiatives or areas dedicated to sustainability?

The Toy Association is committed to helping our members reduce product packaging, respond to extended producer responsibility requirements,

and pioneer new approaches to product sustainability, including accelerating the work of our dedicated Environmental Sustainability Committee

Our environmental initiatives include a digital Toy Fair Locator guide available exclusively through the official Toy Fair Mobile App; new Toy Fair University educational sessions that focus specifically on product design and

packaging sustainability initiatives; and long-time partnerships with the show’s service providers, T3 Expo, to implement greener practices year after year that generate less waste and use more sustainable show materials.

For more information visit



The variety of American Animation

The cutting-edge news from animation studios running inside the American and worldwide markets.

Blanca Pictures is an animation studio that produces original young adult and children’s scripted edutainment content. Their scripts are written in New York, while the characters are created and voiced in Los Angeles by some of the industry’s top artists, actors and directors, many of whom won Annie, Emmy and Oscar awards. In April 2023 two episodes of GINJI series won the 56th WorldFest Houston International Film Festival. GINJI is an English original scripted 2D animation series about the adventures of a teenage horse Ginji, who comes to the big city and almost immediately finds herself at the center of a mystery.

Trilogy Animation Group (TAG), the Californian quality animation studio, acquired the complete portfolio of PorchLight Entertainment. The company

is updating the Emmy®-nominated preschool series Jay Jay The Jet Plane, and Emmy-winning Tutenstein, as well as presenting original series. The New Adventures of Jay Jay The Jet Plane is the newly-updated CG show that features STEM education and social-emotional learning packed in each 11-min episode. The series follows some of the original show’s favorites, including the playful, energetic jet plane, Jay Jay, and his pals Tracy, Snuffy, and Ricky Rescue, featuring a fresh and vibrant new look, and introducing more

characters and fun destinations.

Tutenstein, an adventure series for kids ages 8-12 (22-min episodes), shows what happens when a 12-year-old girl and 4,000-year-old-mummy boy become best friends – and her cat gains the power of speech!

Rubbernecks is an animated 3D stopmotion series for kids and families


set in the town of Desperation, where the residents are a quirky, mixed bag that includes a snake, tortoise, roadrunner, and a few lizards. They all prove the well-known hypothesis that overexposure to intense heat can drive you nutty. The series features art by Deane Taylor, award-winning art director from the Oscar-nominated feature,Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, a new vision for animation

Renowned kids’ veteran Mevelyn J. Noriega announced in May the official launch of Wonderworld. Fun LLC, a new production and distribution company specializing in premium cutting-edge animation content. Operating out of Los Angeles and established under the direction of Mevelyn Noriega who will serve as CEO, Wonderworld.Fun will work in partnership with Deepak Nayar’s production company Kintop Pictures, VFX and animation studio ReDefine (part of the DNEG Group), and Namit Malhotra’s production company Prime Focus Studios, to create, produce, and distribute innovative, highquality animated content for a global inclusive audience. Wonderworld.Fun will also seek to produce and distribute thirdparty developed and owned IPs with strong international appeal. Wonderworld.Fun will unveil three new shows, currently in production, that reflect a fresh and dynamic approach to the art of animation. Targeted at Kids and Family the original comedy, action-adventure series all underpin the company’s vision and commitment to excellence in animation.

A homage to Native American culture

The new film Four Souls of Coyote by the Hungarian animation film studio Cinemon Entertainment had its international premiere in the United States during the Arizona International Film Festival, where has won its first award, and at the Sunscreen Film Festival, where the film/ director have been nominated for Best Feature, Best Director and Best International Feature.

Four Souls of Coyote retells Native American creation myths instilling their relevance in a present-day context. Directed by Áron Gauder, the film will compete against ten other feature films at the prestigious Annecy International Animation Film Festival for the main prize, the Annecy Cristal.

The Mexican Animation Studio Exodo announced its debut as an exhibitor at the upcoming Licensing Expo in Las Vegas. As a renowned animation service provider and content creator, they have been in the industry for over 16 years, and are thrilled to showcase their work to the world at this prestigious event. The industry always seeks fresh,

exciting, and innovative content, and that’s precisely what they bring to the table: their team of skilled animators and creative minds has produced a wide range of properties perfect for licensing in various markets. From action-packed adventures to heartwarming family stories, their animated properties have something for everyone, across


all age groups. Among their projects, Fearnando, a CGI 3D Animated Short. The protagonist is a normal kid, however, there is something about him that brings strange things nearby. This is the first story of a saga to be known as Fearnando: One Thousand and One Creepy Stories, and the first-ever short film completely made in-house at Exodo Animation Studios, from script to concept art to pre and post-production. The Fearnando saga became the winner of the 3d animation category at the Pantalla de Cristal Film Festival and was listed as Official Selection at the Miami International Science Fiction Festival, among others.

The National Film Board of Canada presented its last film selection at the 2023 Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film (ITFS). In world premiere, Thao Lam and Kjell Boersma’s animated short doc Boat People, a documentary that uses a striking metaphor to trace one family’s flight across the turbulent waters of history. The film speaks across time and culture to anyone who’s ever fought to protect their family or

Interview with Kjell Boersma, co-director, Boat People

hear people’s reactions. The film seemed to be well-received, and it is interesting to hear different points of view regarding its meaning and the different points of entry people have into the story. It was interesting especially to see the film with a European audience at a time when so many people have been displaced because of war—it was a poignant reminder that the issues the film is grappling with are still very much with us.

What do you wish for the future of this project?

How was the reception of Boat People at ITFS in Stuttgart? It was rewarding, after so much time making the film in isolation, to see it with an audience and

I’m excited to find out what the rest of the film’s festival journey will be. I also hope we manage to find opportunities to screen the film for refugee diaspora communities and engage with them, both at home in Canada and abroad. I think the film could have a big impact there.


Harvey, a short film produced with Folimage, adapted from the graphic novel of the same name by Hervé Bouchard, illustrated by Montreal filmmaker Janice Nadeau (La Pastèque), depicts a young boy who candidly recalls the spring day when his world turned upside down. Filled with original little touches and told through the eyes of a child with an overflowing imagination, this luminous work by Janice Nadeau, featuring elegant music by Martin Léon, poetically examines bereavement and coping with the loss of a parent.

Kjell Boersma Boat People Harvey


A diverse world of unique characters

The second edition of BRANDmate, the German B2B networking event for brand cooperation, partnerships and licensing, will be on 21-22 June in Offenbach, near Frankfurt. Here is the latest news for the German market from some of the many exhibitors attending.

Behind Universal Music Germany’s super cool rhino-like DIKKA stands Simon Müller-Lerch alias Sera Finale, one of the most successful German lyricists, who has received more than 50 gold and over 30 platinum records for his work to date - for various singles and albums and best of albums. On the second album Boom Schakkalakka

there are again lots of wild, cheeky and funny songs for strong childrenand just as much for their parents! In Autumn, right before Frankfurt Book Fair,

they will release with Edition Michael Fischer Verlag the first DIKKA friendship book, and this summer they will also launch a delicious DIKKA ice cream. In Owl finds the beat, the successful radioplay from Germany, a little owl takes kids between 3 and 8 on an exciting journey of discovery, showing them a variety of music along the way. 4 albums have already been released. Nine years after the first part was published, Owl finds the beat has long been more than just an audio play. Small and large fans have integrated Owl into their lives, in classes, on

Dikka by Universal Music

stages and also on the Toniebox. Owl finds the beat toured festivals all over Germany, is performed as a musical by school classes, and since 2016 the official owl theater-concert has been on a sold-out tour through Germany. The merchandising includes more than 280,000 owl tonies sold since 2017, T-Shirts, stickers, tattoos, Story Book by Edel Kids, Teaching books for music lessons in school.

Welthungerhilfe is supporting refugees in Sudan

The popular songs of the successful YouTube channel Hooray Kids Songs have been delighting millions of children for years, and now worldwide and even in different languages! The songs about the siblings Frida and Karlchen and their family, the tooth monster Hacki Backi or animals like the baby giraffe, the little kangaroo, the dragon Funki, Ben the seal and many other animal fun friends are not only available on YouTube, but also on two music albums for listening at any time and on DVD for the children’s or living room. Hooray Kids Songs present current topics in a child-friendly form in a snappy, catchy pop sound - and not only kids love it. The songs are all written by Hamburg-based musician and children’s radio play author Kai Hohage. The song and video of the tooth monster Hacki Backi alone, for which parents are grateful because their children like to brush their teeth with it every day, has already been watched over 220 million times.

Creata is a global brand activation agency that transforms passive consumers into active customers by opening up new ways for brands to be relevant in the real lives of their target audience. In this way, they help achieve short-term conversion targets and strengthen brand loyalty in the long term. Their international clients such as McDonald’s, Kellogg’s, BP, Woolworth, MARS, Revell and many other partners rely on their expertise: from brand partnerships within MONOPOLY or Happy Meal for McDonald’s to product design developments for Schleich or Kellogg’s

Welthungerhilfe is one of the largest private aid organisations in Germany and has no political or religious affiliations. It is fighting for “Zero Hunger by 2030”. Since its inception, it has provided funding of EUR 4.46 billion for more than 10,895 overseas projects in 70 countries.

Welthungerhilfe is currently allocating an additional EUR 300,000 to new emergency-aid measures in response to the current crisis in Sudan.

“In Port Sudan people are desperate because they lack everything they need to survive: water, food, shelter, and medical care. For many, this is not their first time being displaced. We are mobilising our forces throughout the country to provide effective and rapid aid,” says the country director, Michael Gabriel, describing the situation on the ground.

They are pleased to present some exciting projects from the last year, such as the McDonald’s Smurfs promotion that won the Kids Licensing Award in Bologna, their sustainable food containers for MARS Retail, the MONOPOLY sweepstake promotions for McDonald’s and BP, or the new promotion for Kellogg’s Brazil Their merchandising collections for McDonald’s in Australia and also LATAM, whether for the online catalogue or also festivals such as Lollapalooza not only inspire fans, but also present interesting approaches to the digital

Michael Gabriel Hooray Kids Songs by Universal Music Creata x M& M’S Creata x M& M’S

expansion of haptic gaming experiences with augmented reality. Experiencing your favorite characters in the physical but also digital world offers new, exciting possibilities. Versatile edutainment at a high level for a broad target group is offered by the book promotions they have realised. They are happy to develop new exciting cooperations with our partners.

Founded in 1953, Carlsen Verlag is now the market leader for children’s and young adult books in Germany and excels in this field in various divisions. In picture books, one of the rising stars in recent years has been a green little monster named The Little US. It disappears when people treat each other with disrespect and grows huge when kindness and companionship prevail. Carlsen‘s PixiTM mini books with a print run of more than 450 million copies since their beginnings in 1954, are known to every child in Germany and

many children abroad. Guidance for children aged 2 to 12 is provided by the character Conni, who appears in a wide variety of formats. Carlsen also offers a huge range of

entertaining fiction for children. The School of Magical Animals series, which has sold over 8 million copies and whose film adaptation was the most successful German movie in 2022, is certainly outstanding.

Another very successful series is Please don‘t open, in which the three main characters are regularly surprised by the delivery of mysterious packages containing stolen toys that have come to life and have different quite extraordinary skill sets. In addition to the problems they cause when they grow out of control, their appearance is also accompanied by some pretty crazy climate changes in the small town of Boring, the hometown of Nemo, Fred and Olga.

Furthermore, Carlsen publishes YA fiction under the label Impress, in both print and digital formats.

The list of authors licensed by Carlsen includes names like J.K. Rowling, Rick Riordan, Victoria Aveyard, Clementine

A talk with Felix Jaumann, Head of Sales GSA, Funko Germany

What will be Funko’s biggest licensing news and what are the best-selling products in Germany?

The whole Anime category is on fire. One Piece is selling exceptionally well with extraordinarily strong sales this year, especially with the new Netflix live action series coming later this year.

What goals would you like to achieve in the coming years with respect to the German market?

Keep up the amazing momentum and help our retailers continue to be at the forefront of the growing pop culture zeitgeist. We want to be within the Top 10 manufacturers in the German Toy Market within the next 3 years.

Felix Jaumann Creata x Monopoly

Beauvais and Philip Pullman

And last but not least Carlsen stars an impressive list of graphic novelists and is a major player in Manga publishing.

With the new Tonies® from Wdr Media Group’s characters Käpt’n Blaubär (Captain Bluebear) and Shaun das Schaf (Shaun the Sheep), the children’s room becomes the stage for exciting new listening experiences. As an old sea dog and experienced storyteller, Captain Bluebear has many sailor’s yarns in the store. But watch out and prick up your ears, because the retired seafarer is the most likeable lying bear of all time. He doesn’t just tell his grandchildren stories, he makes them up, and so a funny and exciting game of truth and fibbing ensues. But no matter which stories are truth or legend: with his unmistakable voice and his humorous charm, he takes little and big landlubbers from the age of four into the exciting world of the seas and oceans.

The first Shaun the Sheep Toniebox also promises lots of fun for listeners from the age of six. Whether bath day, the circus with Timmy, or the abracadabra - who doesn’t love them, the adventures

with Shaun the sheep? With his mischievous and imaginative nature, Shaun causes a lot of chaos and fun on the farm. In addition to the original song to sing along to, Shaun fans will find four funny and entertaining radio play stories, read and interpreted by the actor Christoph Maria Herbst

What do you get when you combine magic, glitter, flour and sugar? A recipe for fun - and a Chubby Unicorn! This is the land where honey flows in rivers, and lollipops and cakes live next door. Most call it the Glitterworld, but the Chubby Unicorn and his friends call it: home! With their hearts of gold and their bellies full of cookies, they teach us that it’s perfect not to be perfect!

Since 2016, the team at Chubby & Friends (called “Das Pummeleinhorn” in German) has created a diverse world of lovable and unique characters, each with their own stories. The result has been sweetening the lives of over 330,000 enthusiastic fans! With the support of 20+ licensees, they have been delighting customers with more than 400 merchandise products, including board games like Germany’s Nr. 2 bestselling edition of Monopoly. But that’s far from all: the Glitterworld has starred in hours of bestselling original entertainment. What began as an audio production for our partners Amazon Music and Audible has blossomed into five seasons of all-ager family adventures, each with top 3 placements on several bestseller

lists. In May, the latest licensing partner Tonies® released a Chubby figurine that streams two new short audio adventures, introducing Chubby & Friends to millions more potential fans in a younger age group! Further productions are on the way for 2023. Chubby & Friends is on a journey to spread stories about friendship, growing up, body positivity and enjoying life with all its ups, downs and delicious cookies.

WDR Media Group Pummeleinhorn

This year the Frankfurter Buchmesse celebrates its 75th anniversary. What will be the major innovations of this edition?

Frankfurter Buchmesse is the platform for the publishing and media industries to showcase their innovations. Our customers come from all over the world and all the spectrum of this industry. As such, we always change and adapt,

Frankfurter Buchmesse is ready for its 75th anniversary

Frankfurter Buchmesse is preparing to mark its 75th anniversary, from 18 to 22 October. In order to learn more about the most recent developments and the opportunities available to licensing professionals, LM interviewed Jenny Kühne, Director Rights & Licensing Solutions, Frankfurter Buchmesse.

trying to support their innovative spirit by offering different ways for our exhibitors to highlight their work, meet new business contacts and exchange as well as develop ideas. One of our new initiatives particularly interesting for the licensing community, I believe, is the Comics Centre. This is an exhibition area for Comic publishers to present their books, including networking activities for the comics industry. For many years, the Frankfurter Buchmesse has been focusing on children’s media, which, as you can see in the market, is a strong driver for the licensing industry.

Besides, we offer stages and curate our own events to provide room for discussion on the major trends, threats and opportunities for the industry as well as the whole world. From the war in Ukraine to AI, we live in challenging and interesting times which will be reflected in our diverse programme.

As for our anniversary, we have a plethora of measures to celebrate the special occasion – from a yearbook to social media campaigns and more, we are looking to engage with the community, both looking back as well

FRANKFURTER Jenny Kühne © Frankfurter Buchmesse/Anett Weirauch © Frankfurter Buchmesse/Pia Springsklee

as forward to the, hopefully, next 75 years.

In what ways are you currently collaborating with the other book fairs around the world?

Our director, Juergen Boos, is in close contact with all other book fair directors and we are organizing collective exhibitions at 20 international book fairs. Furthermore, Frankfurt is a founding member of the European Book Fairs network ALDUS, promoting the internationalization of the book sector and the innovation of book fairs’ formats. ALDUS and its follow-up project ALDUS UP, which Frankfurt is also a part of, are projects co-funded in the framework of Creative Europe Programme 2014-2020.

What are the new special initiatives in the Rights & Licenses area?

We are looking forward to the rights & licensing community (re-)uniting in Frankfurt again and have some special new offers for anyone selling or buying creative IPs; of course, business is happening everywhere on the floor grounds, but we are looking to provide both knowledge and meeting opportunities for the different players, mainly through interesting events on all aspects of the rights & licensing business. We are, for example, bringing back the Frankfurt Rights Meeting in a new format, with four digital sessions in September and a physical networking reception in Frankfurt, where the most pressing topics affecting the rights industry will be addressed (www. We are also planning to dedicate the Friday of the Fair to Film and Licensing field, with a programme consisting of panels, guided tours and matchmaking sessions being worked on as we speak. This programme will take place in THE ARTS+ area, which is the gateway between publishing and the international creative industry. This year, THE ARTS+ area is focusing on visual content and its power ( theartsplus).

Why should licensing professionals attend the fair?

Frankfurter Buchmesse is the international publishing industry’s biggest trade fair and the most important international marketplace for content. In 2022, only two years after the pandemic, we had 4000 exhibitors from 95 countries and 93.000 trade visitors from 121 countries; we expect these numbers to grow in 2023. What I am trying to say: Frankfurt provides a

unique opportunity to discover stories, characters, and ideas from around the world in one single place – it is a melting pot and incubator.

Rights and licensing trading is at the heart of most of the meetings and one major goal of the sellers and buyers attending the Book Fair. This ranges from “publisher to publisher deals”, like national licenses to translation rights deals, over to other deals with other creative industries such as film, games and merchandising. Indeed, many of our clients are already active in the licensing and merchandising business, especially in character-driven sectors of the industry, like children’s publishing or comics, and are looking for partners to grow their portfolio further, both by selling as well as buying IP. Having said this, I

LM will be present as a Media Partner at the next Frankfurter Buchmesse with the Fall issue. Write to info@brands-media. com to learn more how to be protagonist in our next big issue!

realize that Frankfurter Buchmesse can feel intimidating and hard to navigate for new attendees – but as described before, we will be providing insights and networking opportunities at events and orientation through guided tours for licensing professionals. We are really looking forward to welcoming licensing professionals here in Frankfurt and are eager to discover more ways to foster exchange and growth.

“Frankfurter Buchmesse provides a unique opportunity to discover stories, characters, and ideas from around the world in one single place. Rights and licensing trading is at the heart of most of the meetings, and one major goal of the sellers and buyers attending the Book Fair.”
© Frankfurter Buchmesse/Anett Weirauch


From touching stories to trail-blazing animation

In the 2022 Animation Germany report, 462 German films were evaluated in 77 countries and achieved a turnover of 107 million euros outside Germany, reaching audiences of over 14.6 million. Let’s discover together the latest productions and previews from two important German studios.

Telescope Animation is currently in production (and partially in development) with their multi-platform story universe The Last Whale Singer The original IP tells the story of a family of humpback whales who can heal the oceans with their magical song. The feature film, an international coproduction between Germany, Canada and the Czech Republic, is currently in production with a worldwide theatrical release in 2025/26. The game is the prequel to the feature film: a prototype is currently in production and game development is slated to begin in 2024. The series (in development, the production start is planned for 2025) directly links to the feature film and continues the hero’s adventures.


Telescope is also in production with the debut short film Epifania; it has in addition more original IPs in development, vast story universes to be told as exciting, touching, and meaningful tales on multiple platforms.

Since last year, Ulysses Filmproduktion is in production with the film Niko3 - Beyond the Northern Lights. In the third film about the flying reindeer, Niko’s long-awaited place in Santa’s flying squad is disputed by the unexpected challenger Stella. The film will be released worldwide in the winter of 2024. Global Screen has world distribution rights to this animated adventure.

Already completed and traveling all over the world, The Amazing Maurice is now in theaters in more than 85 countries, including successfully in France as well as the U.S., where it opened on more

With the motto Animation connects!, ITFS celebrated its 30th anniversary in April 2023. The general public as well as professionals and filmmakers made intensive use of the offers. The organizers recorded 7,300 guests in the cinemas and around 32,000 spectators at the Open Air. With the 5,000 guests in the other venues such as VHS TREFFPUNKT Rotebühlplatz, the ITFS reached a total of 44,300 visitors. The event was not only very popular in Stuttgart, but also internationally: a total of 150 of over 260 invited filmmakers from abroad visited the ITFS.

Among the visitor highlights of the ITFS were the events with Disney Legend and animator Andreas Deja. His Master Class Character Animation was packed to capacity and his first independent animation film Mushka, which celebrated its European premiere at the ITFS, was also screened in a fully booked cinema. The GameZone with its animated games attracted a particularly large crowd of gaming fans: over four days, well over 1,500 people tested and played the best-animated computer games from Germany. Kids were also able to enjoy animated films at this year’s ITFS: all events and workshops at the VHS were fully booked, such as the preschool premiere Bugs Bunny’s Builder & Batwheels.

The Honorary Trickstar of the 2023 Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film has gone to Latvian animation artist Signe Baumane Uwe Schmitz-Gielsdorf, Managing Director of Film- und Medienfestival gGmbH (ITFS), stressed: “In Signe Baumane’s wonderful films, one can experience that philosophy and the art of animation are like siblings: Both of them abstract and thus clarify something that previously had been blurred in the abundance of appearances. Her film My Love Affair with Marriage is a fine example of this.”


than 2,000 screens. The film was invited to the Sundance Festival and is now nominated for the Golden Sparrow 2023, one of the most relevant Children’s Film Festivals in Germany in the category best feature film.

Ulysses Films’ new project in financing is also picking up steam - the screenplay for Pirate Mo and the Legend of the Red Ruby won the German Animation Script Award at ITFS 2023 for the greatest international market potential. The production of this adaptation of Kirsten Boie’s bestselling novel Seeräubermoses will start at the end of 2023. This will be co-produced with Letterbox (GER), Arx Anima (AUT) and ArxLight (ESP). World distribution is

handled by The Playmaker Munich and the first territories have been sold. More features and two TV series with

global exploitation potential are in the development pipeline for the next three years.


Dully&Dax is a German creative duo from Cologne, formed by Sabine Dully, illustrator, and Eva Dax, author. Since 2015, they have started a flourishing career in the children’s publishing and the next goal is to turn their stories into animation productions.

At Cartoon Next 2023 in Marseille, they presented the project in concept Jeppe’s Pixie World, in which pixie boy Jeppe and his friends, the selfsatisfied hamster Oswald and the freedom-loving garden-pixie Runkel, craft and tinker together, and experience funny. The warm-hearted IP is based on a book series and is now to be implemented in a 360° campaign. Plans include a TV series, DIY tutorials and a game.

At the ITFS 2023 in Stuttgart, they proposed another project, Achoo, Hiccups & Co, in co-production with Meike Fehre and Ahoifilm from Hamburg. The TV special for ages 4 and up is dedicated to the secret of body sounds! Be it sneezing, farting, or burping – they are all caused by tiny little creatures that live inside us.


Where retail and brands meet

For the first time Licensing Magazine is Media Partner of Brands & Retail Conference, starting with the summer edition in Birmingham on 4 July.

importance of having such a great global publication as LM. Our first conference took place in London on the 24th February 2022 in London and since then we have had over fifty brands present key IP updates, marketing plans and new IP launches to our audience of VIP Retailers and Licensees.

It seems like the event has been going for years and we can probably put this down to us holding two a year, our Winter conference in January and our Summer conference which takes place on the 4th July.

First of all we want to thank Licensing Magazine who are our media partners for Brands Retail Conferences. As we grow internationally we know the

The event is now cemented in our industries mindset and I am always delighted when new brands and manufacturers from around the world get in touch because they have heard great things about the event. For our summer 2023 conference I

have picked what I believe to be the two best venues in Birmingham for this new location. Millennium Point conference centre where we will be holding the screenings has one of the biggest cinema 4k IMAX screens in the UK. If you are a brand your presentation will look incredible on the giant screen. Our new Gala dinner will be held at the 5 star Grand Hotel in the city centre. The Ballroom dates from the 1920’s when the hotel was built and is one of Birmingham’s oldest buildings. Having a Gala dinner will make Brands Retail more special and with packages for brands to host a table of 10 VIP Retailers and Licensees for the dinner will add something special to those taking part and attending.

With some of the world’s biggest brands taking part such as Warner Bros. Discovery and Mattel and our audience confirming their limited seats our new summer conference is going to be extra special.

For the first time I have brought in some education panels, and I am delighted Cristina Angelucci, the editor-in-chief for LM will be moderating our panel of major UK licensees. I have known them for years and they have huge experience so if you are an international IP owner and want to get your new property into the UK taking part in Brands Retail will get their attention in one 15-minute slot.

Details of our great event are on our website and I look forward to seeing you in the summer in Birmingham UK.



At the Brands & Retail Conference Summer edition, to be held in Birmingham on 4 July, LM will have the pleasure of moderating a panel with some of the leading licensees in the UK and beyond.

We interviewed them in advance to get their thoughts on the relationship between licensing and retail and their view of the market today.


From a licensee’s perspective the new Brands and Retail conferences have added a seasonal opportunity for all elements of the licensing industry to get together over one day to discuss the important topics that face them in what has become a challenging environment. It is the only forum of this sort and fills an important white space for that reason.

When you look at the perfect licensing triangle of Licensor, Retailer and Licensee, 99% of the conversations occur between two of the three parties. Having the ability to have the viewpoint of all three participants in one place

is almost unique and has proven to be something that should happen more often as it leads to a far greater understanding of the needs of each party.

With the challenges we all face in a tough economic climate that need for understanding becomes even more important. We all want to see the industry expand and none of us wish it to become too static and safe. Innovation is the lifeblood of the industry and it would be heartbreaking if we don’t work together to see new brands tested with the consumer. Hopefully, this upcoming conference will again showcase some new brands that deserve to see the chance at retail they deserve.”

In this page images of licensed collections by Difuzed Jeremy Orriss


How important is licensing for the development of your product lines?

We publish children’s magazines, so licensing is really important to us. The magazine space is very crowded and

licensed properties rule the space! Without a license, it is difficult to be seen and to create sufficient awareness to survive on the newsstand.

In your opinion, how much is retail changing towards licensed products?  In magazines it is a much easier sell to retail if the magazine is based on/or features a licensed property. Buyers like to know how much support the license will get from other categories and indeed from the Licensor themselves. They are interested in non-licensed magazines too and you have to have a very compelling story to be considered. I believe they prefer a licensed property though in the children’s sector due to higher overall investment and awareness.

Physical Stores vs. e-commerce, or omnichannel strategy? Which is your approach?

Physical stores are still the most

important channel for magazines, especially in the children’s category where many purchases are an impulse buy. We use e-commerce for subscriptions and for selling single copies. We would love to be able to offer more through e-commerce. However, due to the fast turn-around and frequency of a new issue being published, it is a challenging area for us.

How important is, in your opinion and related to your category of products, the customer experience in the stores?  I think this is massively important. In the children’s section of the magazine category, it is important for all titles to be merchandised effectively and kept tidy! However, in reality, it is probably one of the messiest parts of a store. Children like to look through magazines and see what else is on the shelf to make sure they’ve chosen the best one, which results in untidy displays. It’s important that they can find what they’re looking for. Also, it would be great to see more instore theatre for magazines. It is more difficult than for other categories, again due to the speed at which a new issue of a magazine goes on sale in addition to cost and small margins. However, it would be great to try something a bit different which might draw more people to the category.


Licensing plays a key role for the business and has done so for over 25 years. Having a portfolio of licensed brands enables us to target key age segments with specific products for every user occasion from snacking through special occasions. Having a

Julie Jones Daryl Newlands

real mix of core licenses and emerging new licensing opportunities allows us to be really innovative in some cases depending on license and size of opportunity.

Retailers do see the benefit and need for licensed products, as they provide a real point of difference to their categories. Retailer own label can sometimes be a preference depending on the category or retailer strategy. However, every child, whether young and old, has an emotional connection to a something, and without licensing you wouldn’t be able to provide consumers with exciting products they are truly looking for / or will want when they see them. I do believe there will always be an everevolving need for licensed products.

I have seen over the years certain categories have really suffered due to trend driven retailer own label alternatives. However, it also depends on how relevant licensing to each category is or could be. Licensing is as exciting as it has ever been and becoming more diverse, this is allowing different licensees to navigate categories differently and create new and innovative opportunities. We are primarily retail stores due to the nature of our products. We do see a percentage of our sales go through retailer online channels, but you will find the majority of what we produce at retail. This is due to how shoppers engage with our products and the type of occasions they are used for. The evolution of this market has certainly grown over the last couple of years, partly due to COVID, and an area that will continue to over the years ahead. Therefore, we fully acknowledge this is something we need to consider.

We feel that the instore customer experience is very important as in order to be able to grasp shoppers attention they need to be able to engage with the product. For example, Celebration cakes are seen as just as important as the main gift for a Birthday, so being able to browse the product range in store is very important - location in store is key as well as how the range is merchandised to ensure the products can be seen and capture the engagement of the shopper.


How important is licensing for the development of your product lines? Our business is focused on three key pillars, licensing, brands and private label. Licensing is a fundamental aspect of product development and creation.

Our design and merchandising teams work closely with our licensors and retail partners to establish how to bring these amazing brands and licenses to life through our products. These insights provide us with access to innovative design directions, new technologies and trends, and the ability to call on a wealth of knowledge to exceed end consumer expectations through our products.

In your opinion, how much is retail changing towards licensed products?  Beloved characters, references and motifs bring a magic that end consumers want to draw into their everyday lives. Whether they’re proudly wearing their gaming hero on a t-shirt while at the cinema with friends or heading out to school with a film favorite emblazoned on their shiny new sweater,

Tom Rossi

these products just make life more fun! Licensed product will always be part of retail due to end consumer demand, but as an industry, we cannot be complacent and need to keep pace with the world around us. We are seeing innovations

in digital, in store and of course in the products themselves.

Is licensing still decisive for penetrating certain retail sectors?

Yes, 100%, being able to incorporate the

power of a well-known brand or license into our product offering is hugely valuable and enables us to cater for the full range of our retailers from low to high tiers across the UK, EU, India, Africa and beyond.

Physical Stores vs. e-commerce, or omnichannel strategy? Which is your approach?

In all honesty to be relevant in this everchanging world you must be able to support all routes to market. It has always been a key strategy of ours to have customer focus at the forefront of everything we do. This has enabled us to move from our humble beginnings as a bricks and mortar supplier over 37 years ago to now supplying all types of retailers from pure e-commerce through to department store.

This ethos and drive to be agile will surely take us into new realms in the future and we are excited to embrace this.

How important is, in your opinion and related to your category of products, the customer experience in the stores?  This will no doubt be a key element of the future shopping experience, with many of our customers already defining location-based entertainment strategies. This is not just limited to in store but also in digital environments such as the metaverse.

The great thing about apparel and accessories is our products naturally lend themselves to being at the forefront of these experiences through the end consumer being able to wear them. To really bring this to life the key is to integrate the physical with the digital, which will no doubt be the future.

On the previous page and on this page images of licensed collections by Erve

What’s new from Cartoon Next 2023

The second edition of Cartoon Next took place from 18-20 April in Marseille, clustering 221 participants from 23 countries. 17 panels have been held on the future of Animation, thanks to 40 experts, and 8 new transmedia projects were presented.

The conferences touched on various topics on the future of animation, which appears to be vibrant, also drawing new life from areas such as gaming. The Warsaw-based video game studio CD Projekt Red took the winning example of its gaming franchise Cyberpunk 2077, which sold millions of copies and resulted in Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, the recent Netflix series created by the studio, in collaboration with powerhouse anime Studio Trigger

In another panel, Thierry Baujard (Spielfabrique/DE/FR) and Teddy Kossoko (Masseka Game Studio/FR) talked about opportunities in Africa

The country has many creatives and a market potential that is not yet fully exploited; furthermore, it has a very

young population that continues to grow and has shown great interest in video games and movies.

Jean-Philippe Randisi (bRAND-WARD/ UK) explored the phenomenon of silo marketing, thanks to which it is possible to transform IPs according to one’s target audience. Adam Woodgate (Dubit/UK) curated a focus on linear TV, which is still really popular among children; this is why giants such as Sky, Dreamworks and Paramount are continuing to launch new kids’ linear services. Relevant case studies were discussed,

such as the multi-nominated & awardwinning I Lost My Body (Xilam/FR), representing the growing importance of adult animation.

Cristian Jezdic (Cartoon Italia), Samuel Kaminka (AnimFrance), Kate O’Connor (Animation UK), Justė Michailinaitė (Lithuanian Animation Association) conducted a well attended keynote on the State of the Animation Industry in Italy, France, the UK and the Baltic region. The Italian market, with 80 companies and a concentration in preschool productions, is very open to co-producing, also to solve the European problem of labour shortages. The French sector achieved a turnover of around EUR 600 million, but there are some aspects to be improved, such as creating better working conditions for young talents, or more substantial funding for young adult productions. UK animation has many assets (e.g. craft skills, attention to storytelling, various animation techniques and styles), which wants to continue to share with the European market, beyond the limitations imposed by Brexit. As for Lithuanian Animation, at the moment, mainly short films on social themes are produced for an adult audience, with a few TV series, but a new national fund to produce animation will be launched in 2024.

Among the other experts from numerous

© Cartoon © Cartoon

panels were also Aaron Davidson (Amazon/USA), who pointed out that animation is now in great demand and hoped that adult productions would increase in the future, and Mark Gustafson (Molevista/USA) & Alexander Bulkley (ShadowMachine/USA), codirector and producer on Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, who communicated the latest updates on the stop-motion technique phenomenon.

In addition to the conferences, 8 interesting new transmedia projects were also presented. For instance, Babookums (tv series, 18x10’), in which the protagonists are unique creatures and robots that live among us. In this show (partners are being sought for season two), there is strong musical development and potential for gaming and licensing developments, including live shows and the creation of toys. In the movie Sirocco and the Kingdom of the Winds, Agnès, the neighbor of the sisters Juliette (4 years old) and Carmen (8 years old), writes children’s books that take place in a fantastic world, The Kingdom of the Winds. A book is being published with Actes Sud, and a video game, TV series, Music based on wind, and other licensing developments are also planned.

Cyberpunk 2077, from gaming to Transmedia Storytelling

rest of the world. But we managed to overcome all the problems and create a really unique anime.

The game Cyberpunk 2077 is giving birth to a vast world. After the Netflix show and the comic books, what other declinations would you like to explore?

LM interviewed Bartosz Sztybor, Comic Book and Animation

Narrative Director, CD PROJEKT RED, to know more about the new series Cyberpunk: Edgerunners and the future developments for the game which inspired it, Cyberpunk 2077

Can you tell us how the anime Cyberpunk: Edgerunners came about?

From the early moment of developing Cyberpunk 2077 we knew our franchise needed an anime, as the cyberpunk genre is so connected with this format. We were lucky enough to make Studio Trigger fall in love with our passion and then we started a 5-year long process of making it a reality. We all wanted to create something unique, that’s why the process of development took us almost 3 years. We had to pick the right story and get to the real essence of the Cyberpunk 2077 world. Later we had to start speaking the same artistic language with Studio Trigger and finally be in line about the story we want to tell and the impact we want to make. It wasn’t easy and the universe was not helping when the development started, also the Covid pandemic hit Europe and the

As you said yourself, it’s a vast world, there are a lot of stories to tell and we would like to narrate the ones that are best and most emotional, engaging. Later this year we are publishing Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty, an expansion to the mentioned game. We are also finishing a new comic book mini-series called Cyberpunk 2077: XOXO. We have more plans for the upcoming years but it’s too soon to tell, don’t want to spoil anything. Besides, we are a group of perfectionists so it’s always about the quality of the story, not quantity. We need to be sure the stories we want to tell will move, engage and stay with the audience for a long time. And it takes time to do that.

Bartosz Sztybor Sirocco and the Kingdom of the Winds

Spotlight on African Market

African animation is increasingly present and appreciated all over the world, thanks to its talented studios and professionals. Here are the latest productions and IPs.

This year is a big, shiny year for Africa’s leading animation studio, Triggerfish Kiya & the Kimoja Heroes, an animated action-adventure series for preschoolers, was released by Hasbro/ eOne, streamed on Disney Junior and Disney+ and broadcast on France

Télévisions. It continues to be released to global audiences. The show is about a trio of friends that combine their everyday passions with extraordinary powers and teamwork, in the fictional Kimoja City, a city inspired by the sights and sounds of Southern Africa.

May 4th saw the release of the studio’s short film, Aau’s Song, as part of the acclaimed Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 anthology series on Disney+

Another highly anticipated release for Triggerfish is Supa Team 4 (previously Mama K’s Team 4) for Netflix, and coproduced with Cake Entertainment Supa Team 4 is set in the neo-futuristic city of Lusaka, Zambia, where four teenage girls join a retired secret agent on a quest to save the world as undercover superheroes.

Finally, to cap off a huge year for the award-winning studio, Disney+ will be releasing their much anticipated animated sci-fi anthology, Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire, which presents ten futuristic visions from Africa, inspired by the continent’s diverse histories and cultures.

Kiya & the Kimoja Heroes Aau’s Song

Pixcomm animation studio is based in South Africa and focuses on 2D animation and creating brands for African children, such as the biggest children’s show, Jabu’s Jungle, which is broadcast in several languages and across 40 countries on the continent.

Jabu’s Jungle is negotiating with retail stores across Africa to bring local merchandising and licensing opportunities to African children, as an alternative to imported brands. This has not yet been done in Africa, and offers a huge opportunity to create a ‘new’ industry.

A recently completed new series, Zizi & Hannibal, is another preschool series with a focus on African girls. The series was first broadcast in December 2022, and will be appearing on a range of clothing and accessories, initially in South Africa.


Legends of Bulan is an epic Afro-fantasy feature film from Magic Carpet Studios, that combines comics, animation, and Afrocentric themes. Set in the mythical land of Bulan, it envisions an Africa untouched by colonization, filled with powerful warriors, superhuman heroes, and untold legends.

The mini-series showcases the strength and resilience of the African people, with a captivating storyline that takes audiences through great kingdoms and battles.

The stunning 3D animation brings a richly imagined world to life, featuring intricate landscapes and lifelike characters. From the sweeping vistas of the African savannah to the bustling cities of the great kingdoms, every frame of Legends of Bulan is a work of art, thanks also to seamless motioncapture technology that truly brings the characters to life.

Pixcomm appeared at Animation Production Days (APD), Stuttgart, April 2023, to pitch their ‘coming of age’ animated feature on Nelson Mandela. The rights to produce the animated life story of Nelson Mandela are based on a 200-page graphic novel that was a bestseller internationally and translated into several languages.

The opportunity to attend Stuttgart under the banner of APD, ITFS and FMX, allowed the studio to showcase their other animated series in development (Ting Ting, Wildlife Warriors, and The Errors), identifying a number of interested parties.

Since 2017, Johannesburg-based Cabblow Studios has carved out a niche for itself with medical animation. Led by mom & daughter duo – Dr. Tshepo

P. Maaka and Kabelo Maaka, the studio specialises in 2D digital animation with a hand-drawn feel and personal stories drive their creativity.

Now that the medical animation machine is well-oiled and running

the studio is shifting its focus to entertainment content with their flagship project Rorisang & The Gurlz, a teen/ tween series that follows Rorisang, a K-Pop super-fan, on a journey to creating her own Afro-Pop (African Pop) band with her group of besties at their conservative high school. The Cabblow Studios team has pitched the project at various festivals and markets including the inaugural Stories x Women programme hosted by WIA & FIAPF, MIPJunior 2022 and recently wrapped up Animation Production Days in Stuttgart. With a 360 approach to the Rorisang property, the studio produces a bi-weekly Webtoon and manages Rorisang’s personal Instagram and TikTok accounts - her handle is @rorisaaang. Rorisang’s TikToks have

over 7 000 views in just one month of posting. Cabblow Studios is now looking for licensing and merchandising partners for Rorisang & The Gurlz to raise funds for the series.

Rorisang & The Gurlz isn’t the only property from this innovative studio. The studio has 4 other series in development including the heartfelt, yet whacky superhero series The Mom & Daughter Clean Up Crew about a mom and daughter who don’t save the day, but rather save relationships. These characters were also part of a tourism campaign for Cape Town. Regarding the medical animations, they have developed 3 health mascots also available for licensing – Dr. T - a virtual doctor, Nurse Joy and Lesedi, a teen diabetes advocate.

Animated feature on Nelson Mandela Rorisang’s dream concert in Cape Town

Videogames 2023: a year full of novelties

The video games industry has been thriving for years, for the number of interesting releases announced each year on the different platforms, and for the endless possibilities of Ips development on the licensing front. This year looks like to be a period of big announcements and launches from gaming companies, with new releases and big comebacks after the pandemic slowdowns.

In the run-up to Summer Game Fest (which replaced the well-known E3 event), there is lots of news being announced by major industry players. This year’s Summer Games Fest takes place in California on June 8th The event welcomes 40 big companies including developers and producers such as Activision Blizzard, Bandai, Capcom, CD Project RED, PlayStation,

SEGA, Ubisoft and Xbox, to name a few. Netflix and Amazon Games, both of whom have been developing and launching video games for years, will also be participating.

The first half of 2023 has already given the gaming market a lot of excitement, and strong titles, for both gamers and non-gamers.


Since the beginning of the year some big titles like Dead Space, Resident Evil 4 - Remake have been released, as well as the game that has monopolised the internet and streaming platforms for several weeks: Hogwarts Legacy, featuring the world’s most famous wizard and one of the most transversal IPs ever: Harry Potter.

Another great narrative of the 20th and 21st century returns to consoles and PC with a new title: Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. The franchise continues to be active on the video game market, giving its fans brand-new games to experience exciting adventures inside the Star Wars universe, following stories and plots that enrich the brand’s storytelling even further.

From movies to books and licensing, Star Wars is a franchise that fits perfectly within different worlds and content, and the video game market is no different, providing an opportunity to experiment with a world that is renowned the world over.

In May there will also be a big return on Nintendo Switch, the handheld console par excellence, of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, the much-awaited sequel to the previous game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The overall growth in the industry has also been the case for titles that did not originate from native gaming IPs but had already been active in the market for a few years with several successful titles.

For example, Microids recently unveiled

The Smurfs 2: The Prisoner of the Green Stone, an action-adventure game with interactive mode, which will be released in the fourth quarter of 2023. The production company also announced the release date of Smurfs Kart, which will be available on various platforms as of August 22nd.

2023 will not only be a year of new releases, but big comebacks to the scene of one of the most beloved genres of all times: fighting games. By

2024 the three biggest fighting games in history will return to entertain gamers around the world.

The first two to be released with a confirmed date are Street Fighter 6, which can be played starting on June 2nd, followed by Mortal Kombat 1, due out on September 19th, both of which will open the door to a whole new narrative universe. Still to be confirmed is Tekken 8, another title highly anticipated by its fandom.

Yet another eagerly awaited title is the return of the Japanese fantasy saga Square Enix with its new game Final Fantasy XVI, to be released on June 22nd. Also in June, Diablo IV will be released on all platforms.

Lots of other new games will be released in the second half of 2023 as well, including Pikmin, Avatars: Frontiers of Pandora, The Lords of the Fallen, Silent Hill 2 Remake among many others.

In ‘behind the scenes’ news in the video games industry, the European Commission approved Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard

creating a heated debate as to the fairness of the merger in question.

Square Enix, the company behind Final Fantasy, recently revised its business strategy to focus on attractive Triple A games for international audiences, and faster production of video game titles with shorter waiting times for different releases.

And the years-long partnership between Eletronics Arts and FIFA has come to an end. After the FIFA 23 release, there will be a new EA football game partner, EA Sports FC

In terms of platforms, Switch is still the best-selling console this year with 125 million units sold in March alone, according to data presented by, making Switch the second best-selling console of all times.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Smurfs Kart

Experiential marketing. The potential of online gaming

Video games are not just tools for entertainment but can also be useful for developing new opportunities and communicating values to targeted audiences. This is well established among the many brands that use online gaming to promote new initiatives to enhance their reputation. As compared to a promotional video or an image on social media, games offer the user an interactive and entertaining experience. The best platforms for playing games include apps (downloaded on smartphones), websites and social media.

Co-branding is undoubtedly one of the most effective methods for launching branded-content games because it allows new elements to be added to the usual brand narrative. One example is the Pringles Mind Popping Cup launched last April, a digital tournament created by Pringles, PG Esports and Dentsu which offered users offline experiences in addition to the online game. The tournament started with four Online Qualifiers (qualifying matches were live streamed on Twitch) and continued with the final with the best hundred players at PLB World’s studios in Milan. The final event was open to the public and broadcast on Twitch. One of Amazon’s most recent marketing projects was also a co-branding operation. Created in collaboration with Niantic, Amazon Anywhere is a

service for viewing and purchasing products available on Amazon within Peridot, a new augmented reality animal breeding game. What sets Amazon Anywhere apart from other apps is the convenience of execution because the user does not have to leave the game to browse the catalogue. By installing

the app, Peridot adds an element of reality to its fantasy settings dominated by magical animals and creatures. This is not the first time Amazon has been involved in launching video games, with the e-commerce giant’s platform Luna being one of its most popular.

Without a doubt the target audience most responsive to new developments on the video game front are the young and very young, but seniors are also passionate about games and can be an interesting target audience as well. However according to a study by AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), seven out of ten gamers aged 50+ stated that new game formats do not suit their interests and 28% of respondents prefer to play consoles such as Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo Switch. Let’s see how this trend will evolve in the future.


The Kidult phenomenon and opportunities for manufacturers and retailers

Up until recently toys were associated primarily with children, but today that is no longer the case. Over the last few years, the Kidult phenomenon - a trend where teenagers and adults indulge their passion for toys, tailor-made just for them - has exploded.

According to NPD’s latest survey, kidults and adults accounted for a quarter of all toy sales this past year, worth around $9 billion. Kidults have greater

spending power than children and are drawn to products based on cartoons, superheroes and fashions that remind them of their childhood. For this reason,

lots of toy brands that used to make products just for children have started to focus on the kidult target as an important way to expand their market. For example, this year Lego launched Icons Classic Land Rover Defender 90 for Rover’s 75th anniversary, a 2,336-piece set for building the famous car intended primarily for adult users: in addition to celebrating a classic car model, the game presents a greater difficulty than a construction set for children.

Some companies have also focused on licensing that appeals to kidults, creating products that include nostalgia elements but with modern day materials and functions.

Kidult development factors

The kidulting trend started to take off about a decade ago when superhero films and comic book culture reached the general public (just think of the Harry Potter or the Star Wars series). The rise

Lego’s Icons Classic Land Rover Defender 90

of video games and TV quizzes also helped to bolster the passion of people who had outgrown the traditional age for fantastical character toys (figurines, posters, puppets) and board games. But what definitively established the kidult phenomenon was the birth rate crisis starting in Europe which is facing a demographic challenge that coincides with an ageing population. Over the past 10 years, the number of children under 12 has fallen by 2% across Europe, which in commercial terms means three quarters of a million fewer child consumers. Although Germany and the UK have seen an increase in the population of children up to the age of 11, France, Italy and Spain have seen significant declines.

adults who like to spend their evenings challenging their friends with roleplaying games or quizzes. Another sign of the kidult phenomena is the popularity of social-media pages with posts, interviews and famous quotes devoted to the 1980s and 1990s that get lots of likes and interactions. Even the physical retail sector is a successful way to target kidults, albeit with less impact. For example, kids and adults like to go to shopping centres or individual stores to buy collector’s items, boxed games or merchandise related to their favourite films or TV series.

From products to online sales: opportunities for brands

launched three construction sets based on the Indiana Jones franchise that are suitable for both adults and children, due to their ease and design.

To date, the kidult market in the five European countries surveyed (the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain) is worth around EUR 4.6 billion (with a growth rate of 28% in 2022). As for individual territories, France proved to be the most robust for boxed games popular with young people and young

The growth of young (and young-atheart) toy enthusiasts has prompted several brands to launch new products for this market segment, and evoking nostalgia is a feature that unites the strategies of several brands, especially manufacturers. In addition to the Defender set, for example, Lego

Mattel has gone a step further, having launched its Virtual Collectibles platform and expanded its offer with its own peer-to-peer marketplace which allows owners of virtual collectibles by Mattel to show, trade and sell their goods. Inclusion is also an effective strategy to win over kidult interest. For example, last May Mattel, in collaboration with Boss Beauties, launched a virtual collection of 250 Barbie dolls with different careers, such as artists, astronauts, CEOs, doctors, vets, and pilots, to promote female empowerment. The collection initiative was launched with a $250,000 charity event supporting women’s projects promoted by Barbie Dream Gap Project and Boss Beauties Foundation Kidults are an important target group to be valued that have become major players in the entertainment and toy markets.

Indiana Jones by Lego


The future of retail

Last May LM attended its first Shoptalk Europe, an event entirely dedicated to the world of retail. Shoptalk is a very successful US format that was held in Europe for the first time this year and was a great success with all the participants.

Over three days there were highlevel sessions with Europe’s leading retail players, as well as speed dates scheduled throughout the event where most participants enjoyed a very busy


This event was beneficial above all because it helped to identify macro trends in the retail sector that could be applied to the licensing industry to


Ipsos is one of the largest market research and polling companies globally, operating in 90 markets and employing over 18,000 people.

Research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. The 75 solutions offered by Ipsos are based on primary data from our surveys, social media monitoring, and qualitative or observational techniques.


help keep up with the market. The key words that emerged were Customer Experience, Omnichannel and Live Streaming, with a focus on Gen Z

Customer experience in the post-covid era is a watchword for anyone creating products and services aimed at the public, and the same applies to brand integrity. Customers not only need to be taken care of, but also expect personalized treatment. The consumer is a unique individual with his/her own particularities and as such wants to be acknowledged by brands and retailers, whether online-only, physical-only or multi-channel. One of the companies we met at Shoptalk that demonstrated the importance of the customer experience was Survey Monkey, an agency specialising in helping companies optimise customer experience in retail. From their perspective, one figure above all shows the importance of this factor: 57% of consumers do not buy from retailers again if they have not had a good or valuable customer experience.

The next hot topic is the omnichannel experience. We often refer to the

importance of promoting products on multiple channels, of exploiting products through traditional retail together with online sales. But there can often be unforced errors when experimenting with a multi-channel approach that could end up being fatal to a brand’s reputation. Valuable advice on this subject was discussed by

Generation Z - Do they exist and what influences them?

Ipsos recently conducted research on the definition of Gen Z in the UK, a sector which is influencing more and more brands and retailers in terms of their positioning and buying power.

The research concludes that they (Gen Z, ed.) have the weakest cohort identity of the four main generations, with many also identifying as Millennials. However, those who do identify tend to do so strongly. This means those who use the cohort name to communicate with young people will be speaking to a motivated subset rather than a wider audience.

& Ominchannel Activation at The Lego Group at a well-attended panel on the topic. Sutch described the long journey that led to LEGO becoming a well-positioned brand across all sales channels, from the focus on customer experience and the type of store, to the ability to be easily tracked and available on every platform. Technology in this area helps a lot without interfering with the main objective for the consumer, i.e. ‘pure shopping’. So the experience must be flawless from any perspective, and on any technological or physical platform used.

Generation Z show

signs of

greater financial optimism


Millennials. There are also signs that generational income inequalities are weaker than they were in the 2000s. However, this greater sense of optimism will collide with an economic environment that may prove to be as disruptive for Gen Z as it was for Millennials.

The report also explains the difference between Gen Z and other generations in terms of finances, politics, and values. The following excerpt describes a very interesting approach to values.

When we start to consider generational values we see some of the biggest differences between Generation Z and older cohorts. Gen Z are notably more ‘liberal’ (...).Gen Z are also less concerned about ‘traditional values’ Compared with Millennials at a similar age, they are less likely to feel young people do not have enough respect for traditional British values. Gen Z do not appear to be a greener or more environmental generation. The most striking pattern of recent years has been a rise in interest and concern about the environment among all ages. Gen Z are more into being seen as caring for the environment than Millennials at a similar age. (...)

To read the full research go to

Another matter is the growing use of live streaming to invite digital and social generations to shop online while they live the content. Storytelling is increasingly a live video experience, and platforms such as Tik Tok, Twitch and Instagram provide opportunities to locate and create a live experience linked to impulse buying. They can emulate a trend or depict someone who at that moment is using or wearing a particular fashionable object or item of clothing in a live streaming video.


New collaboration opportunities between European and Asian studios take centre stage at Cannes’ Marché du film

The 5th edition of the Animation Day unspooled at Cannes’ Marché du Film on 21 May.

The event, organised in partnership with the Annecy Film Festival, was kicked off by the Annecy Animation Showcase, featuring five animated works-in-progress from across the globe, presented by their creative teams to prospective sales agents, distributors and festival programmers.

The showcase was followed by two conferences. The first focused on the sales and distribution strategies of post-pandemic independent animation, whilst the second revolved around the untapped potential between European animation players and their Asian counterparts

The latter was moderated by Juraj Krasnohorsky. It saw the participation of Simon Crowe, of SC Films (UK), Ervin Han, of Robot Playground Media (Singapore), Ayumi Inoguchi, of STUDIO4ºC (Japan), and Jean-François Le Corre of Vivement Lundi! (France)

Inoguchi zoomed in on her studio’s successful co-operation with France’s Ankama on the making of the feature Mutafukaz. STUDIO4ºC was initially approached by Ankama for their distinct creative approach. The script was codeveloped, and the production was co-directed by Shōjirō Nishimi and Guillaume Renard

Han spoke about the team’s upcoming WW2-set feature The Violinist, a coproduction between Singapore, Malaysia and Spain. Most of the story takes place in Singapore but the Spanish director’s past work in Disney will serve the team’s goal to deliver a style that is “Disneylike” but also “classical,” “elegant” and “European.” The other important project in the pipeline is A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts, based on Chinese culinary and folk traditions and characterised by an “international flavour.” It’s set in different cities around the world and revolves around the Chinese diaspora.

Le Corre and Crowe expressed their interest in co-producing more with Asian partners Crowe in particular highlighted how “stories with universal appeal can come from any country of the world,” and how Asia is gaining more and more prominence within the streaming and production landscape. Crowe revealed he is now working on a co-production with the Philippines and closing two more projects with Japan and Singapore. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to link Far Eastern and European studios so that they can access European soft money, which will be crucial to make films going forward,” he concluded..


Markets and trends, all the opportunities of Luxury

Despite inflation and economic difficulties, the luxury market continues to register increases. According to Bain&Co’s latest report, as the economy recovers, luxury sales are set to grow between 3% and 8% in the world’s major markets (US, China and Europe) over the next few years.

The United States regained the number one spot for luxury sales in 2022, surpassing China, with 25% growth and a turnover of EUR 113 billion, approximately USD 121 billion. Even in China, despite experiencing losses due to the Covid-19 emergency closures, shops have resumed selling luxury goods to domestic and international audiences.

Europe also recorded strong growth (+27%), helped in large part by American tourists spending on luxury goods in several countries on the Old Continent. Moreover, with the arrival back of the Asian tourists, new increases in luxury goods sales are expected in the upcoming months.

As for buyers, the most influential people in the world seem to be under the age of 45, so much so that in 2022 they

were people belonging to Generation Y (people born between 1981 and 1996) and Generation Z (people born between 1997 and 2012) who drove growth. On the other hand, younger people are more familiar with online buying and selling tools, whether marketplaces or payment systems. The Alpha generation (especially young boys) is also attentive

to peculiar and expensive products. But how can users in the luxury segment be won over? In addition to promoting high-end products, co-branding is a very valuable technique. One example is Diesel, which has partnered with Samsung to launch covers for the Galaxy S23 smartphone series. The graphics of the Diesel x Samsung collection feature the Diesel- for successful living logo with the brand’s colours (red, white and black) in different versions: in black and white, printed with an exclusive rubberized effect for the Diesel Cover, a classic case made of TPU type elastic silicone that makes it shock-resistant with raised edges to protect the screen; in red and white for the Swappable Backplate, the plate that can be superimposed on the Samsung Frame Cover (available only for Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra). Of course, the physical shop also continues to be a point of reference for buyers, as demonstrated by the case of Ermenegildo Zegna, which together with Microsoft has expanded the services of Zegna X, a technology already tried and tested by the fashion group, having enhanced the in-store experience to select and choose clothes.



The benefits of augmented reality in e-commerce

Due to its potential and functions, augmented reality can provide benefits to various economic sectors, including online commerce.

While an image or text can only show certain characteristics of a product, augmented reality can immerse a customer in the complete vision of that product because the technology can provide information that details and enriches the concept of an object.

In recent years, many retailers have invested more and more resources into the development of augmented reality systems to enhance the shopping experience on their e-commerce sites with apps that can be downloaded directly from a smartphone or tablet. One of the pioneers in the use of augmented reality is Ikea, which launched the Ikea Place app in collaboration with Apple in 2017. By tapping on the display, a customer can select an item and then, by taking a picture of a room, see if it looks good in that space. If a user is undecided about the colour of a sofa for their living room, or the size of a table for their kitchen, they can select the product, place it in the photo of their room at home, and make an informed decision. The products have exact measurements and fabrics colours that accurately reflect

the models in the stores. Augmented reality can be a valuable asset in the clothing industry as well, for example H&M and Snapchat created an app that allows you to try on clothes directly from a smartphone without going to a shop or having to input your height or weight. To see how an outfit looks on, all you have to do is take a photo with the Snap camera and select a product on the bottom of the screen. Improving product promotion is not the only benefit of augmented reality: augmented reality systems are able to capture data about their customers that can then be used to personalise the next shopping experience or to create an advertising campaign.

The value of augmented reality has also been proven in numbers: according to a survey by Techjury, 70 per cent of consumers think that intelligent systems provide benefits when choosing products and 57 per cent of customers say they are more likely to buy from a brand if it uses augmented reality.


Interview with David Tommaso, marketing & sales director of Leolandia

David Tommaso talks to Licensing Magazine about what’s new at Leolandia in 2023 and how the park is moving into the licensing world.

Thanks to an agreement with BBC Studios, Bluey has launched at Leolandia. How is it being featured in the park?

Bluey is a main character at the Meet & Greets which has exclusive mini live shows featuring original sketches, where she interacts with the park animators and engages children to play; these are followed by an opportunity to take a souvenir photo.

Bluey debuted in Leolandia in March and has been extremely well received and welcomed by guests, to such a point that we had to increase his number of daily appearances in order to meet the huge demand.

In terms of acquiring licenses, your approach includes customizing content and adapting it to the specific needs of

the park and the Italian market. Could you elaborate?

Our goal is to offer immersive content so that guests can feel like the star of an exclusive experience. This requires

a thoughtful creative process that we always share with our IP partners: we start with the development of the format, which could be a show or a minilive experience, then we work on the story, refining the content.

The narrative must be related to

David Tommaso

the expectations of the guests, the storytelling of the park, and the cultural context in question; in parallel, it must also respect the guidelines of the property, with the design features and distinctive elements of the series, which are instantly recognizable and therefore have a reassuring effect: in the case of Bluey we use the theme song, the magical xylophone, the Keepy Uppy game, and so on.

On stage we always place our animators next to the property as a link between the character and the park, and to maximize their interaction with the audience. This approach, which has been our hallmark for many years, has been an important part of Leolandia’s evolutionary process: in addition to being a successful strategy for the park, it is much appreciated by the IP partners themselves, who are expressing more and more interest in collaborating.

waste-sorting system, which includes the elimination of single-use plastic in the dining area. The subject of sustainability is also present in our content: we communicate positive values to children through interactive activities that often involve our partners.

dancers, singers and acrobats, paying great attention to all aspects of the production: music, sets, costumes, choreography and special effects. The aim is to create a spectacle that will entertain and amaze everyone, even adults.

The main new musical, L’isola perduta (The Lost Island), is based on impressive themed paintings that indirectly recall the subject of biodiversity and respect for the planet. In addition, there are shows about pirates and cowboys, and animation aimed at younger children, with games and baby dances.

The park has just added a new water area. Can you tell us more about it? This attraction is designed to make Leolandia’s summer even cooler and more fun, and it is the first step in a new project that will continue over the coming months. On a strategic level, we have been working on upgrading the water areas for the past few years, a key element to coping with warmer days, especially for a park like Leolandia which is dedicated to young children.

How is Leolandia working on sustainability?

It is an ongoing commitment for us ranging from making the facility more efficient to adopting more sustainable practices. For example, we use a photovoltaic system for energy supply from renewable sources and a detailed

With acqua San Bernardo, for example, we closed a deal that embraces a joint effort to communicate our mutual commitment to sustainability and recycling. And at the new attractions our small TrenOrto train runs through a real vegetable garden to show children how much commitment and dedication is required to bring the fruits of nature to our table every day. The park also features a reptile house, an aquarium and an educational farm where children can learn about and respect the animal world.

What’s new in 2023 for your live shows? Which licenses are involved?

This year we are presenting a completely updated schedule of nine live shows: the shows are produced inhouse with a cast of 30 artists including

On the licensing front, we offer exclusive and highly successful appearances of Masha and the Bear, Bing Bunny and Flop, and Miraculous Last but not least there is Esiste Davvero! (It really exists!), the only show in Italy that brings together all the most beloved cartoon characters on one stage: in addition to those already mentioned, we also feature PJ Masks and the beloved hosts, Leo and Mia Launched last year, the show is already a classic in high demand by our guests and was awarded Best Family Attraction of 2022 at the Parksmania Awards, the Oscars of amusement parks.


Avatars, the way to qualitative research in the Metaverse

Notes from “An Application Pathway for Qualitative Research in the Metaverse, a Growing Phenomenon,” by four researchers (Massimo Cealti, Daniela Fujani, Stefania

Luca Meyer) of TAMTAMING, a community of independent research experts.

The metaverse is an emerging phenomenon that has been steadily growing worldwide and promises to offer great opportunities in the near future. It can help people with disabilities, save time, and generally do much more than just provide a platform for playing by mixing virtual or augmented reality with real reality, radically changing how entertainment could be much more immersive with personalized and unique experiences.

To understand the many possibilities of the Metaverse, a group of researchers embarked on a mission: to investigate what application opportunities there are for qualitative research and identify problem areas

It all starts with avatars

The key to entry into the metaverse is an avatar which represents a person’s virtual self that can be easily constructed on designated sites. Avatar creation offers total freedom of expression allowing people to decide to be anyone or anything and transform into someone or something completely different with a few simple clicks. But what are the motives for entering the metaverse?

From a motivational point of view, the metaverse represents the possibility of acting out one’s need to be identity fluid: younger generations often choose an abstract concept with a strong personality and low anthropomorphism; there is a perceived need to separate from oneself on earth to inhabit an alternate form that allows for complete freedom of expression.

The departure from reality frees individuals from their real identity and

allows them to go beyond their physical, real self. An interesting possibility of an alternative world emerges in which the motive for engagement is completely open. For men under 30, entering the metaverse, meeting new “subjects”, exchanging real-life references in order to meet again, allows for a cognitive and free experience which fills a need for relationships for boys in this postpandemic period.

While the pandemic confined boys at home for a very long time, limiting their interactions with the outside physical world - with activities, sports, interests, groups - the metaverse becomes an easy and immediate option, allowing them to live in a parallel, open, unrestricted context, in which many aspects of themselves can be enacted, whether they fit in in the real world or not.

For digital natives, the metaverse is the fulfilment of their identity that is both real and virtual. It allows them to have experiences that otherwise would not be possible and to access other realms without ever leaving home.

TAMTAMING Stefania Gogna, Semiotician Daniela Fujani , Co-Founder, Tips Ricerche Massimo Cealti, Founding Partner, Altitude C

The metaverse is a diverse place, and people project themselves into it in many different ways. It is not just a place for gaming, but a parallel reality open to explore, experience, buy or sell, a reality that is not just virtual, but also factual, concrete, practical, present and tangible

As qualitative researchers, the TAMTAMING team is very interested in the many possibilities for research applications that the metaverse offers in terms of setting (an immersive reality) and its potential in terms of expression and creativity

The group did their research on the Roblox platform which has a decidedly young audience: of the approximately 60 million players that visit Roblox on a daily basis, 86 percent are under 16 years old and 54 percent are under 12. This allows for interaction with a difficult but interesting target audience: it is for these specific digital natives that new methods of qualitative research are being created in order to determine how to maintain a high level of interest and

involvement, what kind of natural modes of interaction put them at ease, where they can freely express their views and opinions, and how useful observations and dialogues can be established. But what is the metaverse? Let us describe it from a semiotic perspective. As researchers and scientists on human behavior, we start with a positive view and assessment of the metaverse: videogaming is a serious subject and the research attempts to understand why.

• The metaverse is a narrative within which new and multiple meanings are created.

What dynamics are realized within the metaverse?

1. The dynamics of Experimentation

• It is non-sequential, non-linear text. Engagement, learning by doing, exploration and autonomy are some of the key elements of non-sequential contexts.

• It is an interactive environment: interactivity experienced as active enjoyment, influence over the narrative. The interactivity facilitated by the video game allows the user/ videogame player to influence and modify events and become the author of the unfolding story himself.

• Reality within fiction: the concept of interactivity expands its meaning, granting to the realm of fiction what is not possible to accomplish in reality.

The analysis that has been conducted suggests that the most important dynamic regards the multiple possibilities allowed by the virtual environment of the metaverse: to be able to choose between good and evil; to experiment with new ways of living; to use the same dynamics in reality and try them out to objectively evaluate them, without the consequences that they would have in the real world; to perform actions that are difficult to experience in everyday life; to develop skills and abilities that are also useful in real-life activities. Hence this has been defined dynamic experimentation.

2. The dynamics of Comparison and Collaboration

A peer group, which creates a sense of belonging to a community of gamers and requires equal collaboration in a tribe, is of particular importance. In this sense, the Confrontation and Collaboration dynamic is consciously defined, with respect to the fact that attitudes and behaviors of Aggressiveness and Opposition often develop.

3. The dynamics of Alter ego and Authorial Power

The authorial power of a metaverse user, that is, the ability to directly

Luca Meyer, Freelance Market Researcher

intervene in the narrative, modify its paths, plots and the course of the storyline, can also be amplified through the creation of an alterego (avatar).

4. The dynamics of Motivation

The dynamics of Motivation that determine the engaging factors of video game activity consists of: the mission the player participates in in the first person; the set goals; the extraordinary powers he or she can equip him or herself with; the progression of skills he or she gains in game practice within the metaverse; the responsibility for the actions of the alter ego (simulacrum of identity); and accumulation of a score.

Opportunities for Qualitative Research

A recurring theme which runs through all of the practical application is the immersive experience that the video game domain of the metaverse provides. This makes it an incredibly immersive medium and an opportunity for research as well by exploiting what the subject wants to be and wants to do during the process of learning to transform.

In addition to players’ mood and basic motives, and the various activities they can do in the metaverse, the metaverse also presents opportunities in terms of data collection:

• Observation of behaviors, interactions (“meta-ethnography”)

• Involvement in research activities through individual or group interviews

This second type of research analyzes the opportunities and limitations by interactively engaging Roblox users in research activities.

• Specifically, the following points should be discussed here:

• How to define the identity of a Roblox user (who can we contact, who are we talking to?)

• How to motivate the Roblox user to participate in a research project

• What advantages and limitations are there to different approach strategies

• During the TAMTAMING experience with Roblox, the team came into contact with many people with varied profiles (however access to the speech feature is restricted to those

over the age of 13).

• From an operational point of view, to do research with and about the metaverse, TAMTAMING identified some initial conclusions and operational basics:

• The team concludes that recruiting people must be done directly on the platforms as there is no advantage to recruiting in a traditional way, using the platforms just as group chat rooms.

• Apart from via avatar, moderation of individual or group discussions seems to be closer to traditional modes, especially those of creatively oriented discussions.

• Performing passive, active, accompanied observations, etc., and ethnographic or semiotic studies are applicable opportunities with minimal adaptations.

Finally, as social scientists, one also has a duty to point out the dark side of the metaverse: the pitfalls, the excesses and the dangers.

One of the negative aspects is the control of user interactions via text messages, an activity that is referred to as moderation. The system operates with A.I. that still needs significant improvement. In contrast, the filtering of verbal conversations seems to be more limited, although this probably depends on the language of conversation. Unfortunately, cases of both verbal violence (insults, accusations, judgments, winks, profanity) and visual violence (inappropriate gestures and dress) were not uncommon.

These digressions have a strong likelihood of recurring almost every time the platform is accessed: is this a “practice what you preach” double standard or an objective difficulty in setting up effective automated control systems?

The urgency of these examples stems first and foremost from the need to protect an audience that is too young to have the psychological resources to properly process and deal with incidents of violence, as well as and the related risks arising from the lack of sanction and the blurring of lines between virtual and real life.

On the other hand, lawmakers are having a hard time keeping up with the fast evolution of the Web universe, which is why it is hoped that while researchers figure out how to make the best use of the opportunities offered by the metaverse, lawmakers must establish a framework that allows everyone to access it without any risk whatsoever. In a world where many symbolic points of references have been lost (ideologies, trust in institutions - scholastic, religious...), is there a potential risk, especially for future generations, of progressively losing the references that enable them to distinguish between the real world and the metaverse? This is perhaps the most serious aspect that TAMTAMING has observed.

The Metaverse most definitely offers extraordinary advantages and solutions, but the team still points to the need for stricter guidelines for norms and rules of behavior



Keep up-to-date with industry news from all over the world

Licensing Magazine is one of the only trade publications that:

- Reaches over 110 countries,

- Has over 60,000 monthly readers on its digital and print magazines, weekly newsletters, social media pages and allnews website,

- Offers transmedia coverage on the licensing, digital, entertainment, animation, fashion and publishing industries,

- Presents “outside the box” insights on the hottest trends and themes,

- Is a fully integrated media platform, with a magazine - print and digital format -, all-news website, social media pages, and weekly newsletter accessible to its readers around the world 24/7,

- Is the Media Partner of over 30 leading B2B licensing, entertainment, fashion, toy and animation trade events in Europe, USA and Asia.

The next events to follow!


Licensing Animation





Sao Paolo, Brazil

Gwangju, South Korea

Toulouse, France

New York, USA


Entertainment Animation Toy


Las Vegas,
Annecy, France Offenbach,
Birmingham, UK
us and
receive our
newsletters, LM e-news, to keep updated on the latest industry news.
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.