Licensing and Merchandising

My tenure at 20th Century Fox included a stint in licensing and merchandising – or L & M for short. What our team did was “support the franchise” (my properties included Ally McBeal, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Simpsons and assorted others) by developing consumer products. Our consumer products included special edition video collections, t-shirts and mugs, games, stickers and notepads, CDs, candy bars, action figures and one of my favorites, The Simpsons 10th Anniversary Limited Edition Grill. You’re familiar with these tchotchkes. Not only are they frequently at the top of wish lists, they’re often the first item to go into the yard sale pile.

Recently I came across two items that I think stand out as successes.

Exhibit A: "The Biggest Loser" merchandise

Exhibit A: Anyone who knows me knows how much I loathe reality tv. But these products to the left not only build brand awareness and keep consumers connected to the franchise, they actually help consumers by encouraging thoughtful meal preparation. A redeeming quality! The Biggest Loser is a winner! Claire Atkinson dissects the efforts in this case study.

Exhibit B: The Bro Code

Exhibit B: I find How I Met Your Mother very smart. But what kind of products – beyond the basic logo gear – are a good fit for the audience? As best as I can remember, The Bro Code spans a two-episode story arc and was not mentioned before and has not been mentioned since. Actually, only a small portion of The Bro Code is revealed, which builds anticipation (very likely, coincidentally) for an audio version of the code, read by Neil Patrick Harris. Inventive for sure and certainly very funny, too.

It can be a real struggle to come up with inventive products that will excite consumers. L & M is fun but not often easy and not always successful.

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