You don’t just have to play with product to engage with toy brands, you can wear them. Billy Langsworthy talks to Katherine Buckland, senior licensing director at Hasbro Europe, about bringing the likes of My Little Pony, Transformers and Monopoly to the catwalk and whether toy stores should start stocking clothing lines.
How has 2015 been for Hasbro so far in the licensing space?
We have an incredible momentum behind our brands; 2014 was the best year in Hasbro’s licensing history.
Hasbro has rapidly evolved beyond a traditional toy and game company into a truly branded play company with a rich portfolio of franchise brands that have become bona fide global lifestyle properties, each driven by strong entertainment, immersive storytelling, and comprehensive licensing programmes.
What brands have performed well across the different categories?
There is currently a global success story around our Transformers and My Little Pony franchises.
Through a total brand approach for each property, we’re engaging fans of all ages with innovative consumer products and brand experiences across all major licensing categories including entertainment, digital, fashion, toys and games, digital gaming, publishing, and much more.
Whether it’s a £1 My Little Pony keychain or a £500 My Little Pony sweater, our franchises have incredible stretch across a wide span of licensing and retail channels.
The My Little Pony brand has a global presence across all major consumer products and promotional categories, since its re-launch in 2010.
The fifth season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic kicked off in the US earlier this year and airs on television in over 180 territories, on over 24 networks and is also distributed on iTunes, Google Play and Netflix.
Its rich storyline and cast of characters has expanded the brand into an array of product categories, in addition to promotions and corresponding retail and experiential programmes worldwide.
The Transformers brand is one of the most iconic franchises of this century and continues to carve out its spot in pop culture history.
Fans around the world have connected with an expansive range of Transformers branded content and lifestyle experiences, from the Transformers: Robots in Disguise and Transformers: Rescue Bots animated series to consumer apparel and more.
Have any partnerships surprised you this year?
To see how different designers and tastemakers interpret our brands and give them high-fashion appeal has been astounding.
From the extravagant rhinestone appliqués that form Transformers characters on designer dresses from Philipp Plein, to the fun and quirky Au Jour Le Jour prints and patterns made up of classic Monopoly iconography, our most beloved brands have now become modern must-have style through the eyes of some of fashion’s most acclaimed personalities.
With the return of Stickle Bricks, Action Man and Stretch Armstrong, how important are retro properties to your plans moving forward?
With more than 1,500 properties in the Hasbro ‘vault,’ we have an incredible opportunity to leverage nostalgic and beloved brands moving forward – we’ve barely even scratched the surface.
We’re constantly re-evaluating our properties and looking to re-introduce heritage brands to keep them fresh and tell new stories when the time is right.
In addition to those you mention, another great example is Jem and the Holograms, currently being reimagined for a new generation with the launch of Universal Pictures’ live-action, motion-picture adaptation inspired by the Eighties cult classic, set to premiere in the UK in February 2016.
Do you think toy retailers should be stocking the wider Hasbro lines, like the fashion collections?
Having branded apparel merchandised alongside our toy and games business would be a great opportunity for children and fans to engage with our brands at an even deeper level.
When a child finds and falls in love with a character they relate to, there’s a greater chance for them to express themselves through those characters and their stories.
We feel that an expansive range of consumer product offerings across retailers, from toys to apparel and more, is critical to reaching those consumers and delivering the great brand experiences that fit their lifestyle.