Interview: James Walker, Hasbro

The likes of Nerf, Monopoly and Furby are becoming true licensing propositions. James Walker, VP, Brand Licensing EMEA, tells us more.
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How have plans for Hasbro to become a ‘branded play’ company progressed since we last spoke?

Hasbro has evolved from a toy and game company to a branded play company that offers a wide range of brand experiences – beyond traditional toys and games – to become a developer of digital content, TV and filmed entertainment, a driver and influencer of pop culture and much more. In the past few years, we’ve taken our brands to places people didn’t think possible, and we will continue to drive the reach of our brands for long-term growth.

Can you highlight some of the main deals/achievements for your key properties over the past six to 12 months in the licensing space?

As part of our overall licensing strategy, we’ve focused on creating long-term relationships with best in class licensees in all segments to create stand out product. 

Examples include a range of Nerf electronics in the UK; trendy stylised fashions for many of our brands in the UK and across Europe; My Little Pony enhanced book apps and more. Also of note, the Monopoly gift collection from Gift Republic won Best Licensed Brand Range – Hard & Soft Goods at the recent Licensing Awards.

Certain Hasbro brands lend themselves well to licensing, while others, like Nerf say, are not so easily recognisable. How have you got round these challenges?

The Nerf brand has developed a passionate, multi-generational following with its diverse line-up, featuring everything from basketball sets to blasters. 

Hasbro continues to develop its Nerf franchise through targeted social media campaigns, cutting edge technology and captivating competitive events.

We are expanding the brand’s presence in a host of licensing categories including sporting goods, electronics, accessories and apparel. Key collaborations have included the Nike and NBA All-Star Kevin Durant programme in the US, as well as the edgy fashion statements created by Second Chance and No Fear in Europe.

What can we expect to see at BLE? Which properties will be on show at the Hasbro stand?

Our presence will continue the message we started at last year’s show and highlight our powerful global brand portfolio. 

Transformers, My Little Pony, Littlest Pet Shop, Monopoly, Nerf, Furby and Tonka will all be showcased. 

We will continue to expand worldwide licensing programmes, invest in resources and talent.

What brands would you highlight from your portfolio as ones to watch in 2013?

We continue our focus on My Little Pony and Transformers Prime, with new TV seasons landing as well as digital games. We are also looking forward to the launch of Littlest Pet Shop animated TV series in autumn/winter 2013.

This autumn we’re reintroducing the magic of Furby; with more than 40 million pieces sold worldwide in the first three years of production, the Furby creature quickly became a global phenomenon following its 1998 debut. Tonka has such great brand heritage – it’s going to be really exciting to launch this brand with HTI.

What would you like to have achieved in the licensing space in five years’ time?

Our licensing team takes our goal of being the world’s most responsive, collaborative and innovative licensor of products and stories seriously. Our goal over the next five years is to deliver on that mission through world class brand development, best in class talent acquisition and the delivery of premium product to key retailers around the world.

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