How Brands Like Barbie and Looney Tunes are Tapping Licensing Trends All Marketers Should Know

This story was originally printed on CO— by U.S. Chamber of Commerce and was written by Mark Hamstra.

Mega brand names including Hot Wheels, Barbie and Looney Tunes are forging licensing collaborations that align with social causes and faucet into the very hot electronic collectibles market — tendencies that corporations of all measurements can monetize, far too: That’s mainly because they are courting younger audiences by using the purchasing triggers shaping how they shop for toys to T-shirts now, executives claimed at the 2021 Licensing Expo attended by CO—.

Dr. Seuss and NFTs: ‘This is a full new way of deciphering the characters’

Dr. Seuss Enterprises, for instance, is getting ready to roll out its 1st NFTs (non-fungible tokens), which are confined-version or 1-of-a-kind electronic functions of art that have fast turn into collectors’ products, and are notably well-known between younger shoppers. They are traded on electronic networks and these kinds of as Ethereum and usually bought and sold making use of cryptocurrencies.

“We are leaping in in a massive way with our people,” stated Susan Brandt, president, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which publishes the well-known children’s textbooks showcasing people this sort of as The Grinch and Horton the Elephant. “This is a total new way of interpreting the characters.”

Furthermore, Mattel recently unveiled Hot Wheels NFT Garage, which is a line of NFTs leveraging the toy company’s iconic toy car brand. The line debuted with three a single-of-a-type electronic variations of common Hot Wheels cars and trucks that Mattel auctioned off this summer time.

“We put a large amount of contemplating into it,” claimed Richard Dickson, president and chief running officer at Mattel, who famous that it was the company’s first foray into the NFT room.

Robert Marick, government vice president of world-wide purchaser merchandise and encounters at MGM, explained consumer curiosity in NFT collectibles “opens up a complete new earth of collaborations” for licensors.

“I am excited to see what that morphs into in the decades to occur,” he said.

In the same way, he reported MGM attributes these as the James Bond film franchise also lend themselves to electronic formats common with youthful individuals, this sort of as video games. Obtaining a accredited brand name into a video video game tends to have a ripple impact, spilling in excess of into other licensing chances in the type of new goods and activities.

Relevant: Google, Walmart’s Outdoor Chain, QVC and Much more on Turning Inspiration Into Innovation

Aligning with social leads to: Recycled plastic Barbie hits cabinets

Brands are also achieving buyers by concentrating on social causes, these types of as sustainability and variety.

Barbie, for instance, not too long ago launched its first doll manufactured from recycled plastic, known as Barbie Enjoys the Ocean, supported by the tag line, “The future of eco-friendly is pink.”

Millennials and Gen Z are attracted to makes that show a function, said Dickson of Mattel, which owns the Barbie franchise.

“Our makes have been purpose-created proper from the commence,” he mentioned, noting that the company’s corporate values about range and inclusion are also woven into the tales of just about every of its models.

Dr. Seuss also lends itself to tie-ins with social brings about, explained Brandt, citing the achievements of the company’s partnership with sustainable garments manufacturer Tentree and the Dr. Seuss ebook, “The Lorax,” about a character who “speaks for the trees” towards forces that would ruin them.

The partnership has produced thousands and thousands of social media impressions, she reported, holding the Dr. Seuss character entrance-and-middle amongst people intrigued in sustainability.

Related: Not Just Pores and skin Deep: Marketers From CVS to Startup Geenie Just take on Mental Wellness in the Splendor Aisle

Expanding e-commerce by way of DTC ventures

As they lean into trends, licensors are also growing their get to by means of immediate-to-customer (DTC) platforms, even though they have to tread very carefully to keep away from conflict with their brick-and-mortar and e-commerce associates, executives said.

Mattel, for illustration, has recognized a new DTC brand name called Mattel Creations that options constrained-edition collectibles. The target of these DTC ventures is to enhance the choices of other stores, reported Dickson.

Likewise, Warner Bros. also has its possess DTC e-commerce and retail channels, but functions closely with its retail partners to have an understanding of their consumers.

“We lean into what the retailer needs in terms of what they see as the even bigger opportunities,” reported Pam Lifford, president, WarnerMedia World-wide Brand names and Encounters.

Details analytics are critical to making sure that licensed solutions charm to the precise purchaser demographics of every particular person retailer, she explained.

“It’s not just vital for us to recognize who our client is, it’s also significant for us to comprehend who is going for walks into the Walmart environment and the Target environment, and knowledge what their desires are, and then bringing all those two factors with each other,” reported Lifford.

Case in position: Accredited item associated to the Looney Tunes-themed motion picture Place Jam: A New Legacy, has been a sturdy good results, she explained.

Warner Bros., which owns the Looney Tunes and House Jam franchises, labored intently with LeBron James, the pro basketball participant who is the star of the most the latest incarnation of the movie assets, together with his sneaker companion, Nike. (The new movie arrives 25 yrs following former pro basketball participant Michael Jordan launched the initially strike Room Jam movie in partnership with Warner Bros. and Looney Tunes.)

“The fact that that we confirmed up in all the suitable places at the right time, integrated with the ideal [intellectual property] — it is pretty distinctive,” stated Lifford.