A Storied Past: License! Global Celebrates 15 Years
Feb 01, 2013
By Nicole Davis
When the bottom dropped out of the U.S. economy at the end of 2007, evergreen brands, with their already established fan base, rose to the top. Activity shifted from creating new franchises to capitalizing on old ones.
Over the last five years, Warner Bros. ramped up activity for Looney Tunes; Sanrio's Hello Kitty celebrated its 35th anniversary; Iconix, which had previously focused on fashion brands, acquired the classic Peanuts franchise in 2010; LEGO diversified its offerings through crossover lines with other evergreens like Marvel and DC superheroes, The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars; Hasbro rebuilt its Transformers brand; DreamWorks acquired Classic Media and its slate of classics including Casper the Friendly Ghost and The Lone Ranger; and Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer remained a constant on the kids' scene.
Licensors that didn't already have strong evergreens, and even those that did, looked to the past, causing a rash of retro revivals, from CBS's Star Trek to Nickelodeon's recent reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Despite the ailing economy, in 2010, Haim Saban created the brand management company Saban Brands and re-launched Power Rangers. The company plans to re-introduce two more retro brands this year–Digimon and Popples.
And then of course, there are the superheroes. While no one can quite explain the current craze, a large part of the success behind these brands lies in their longevity. These characters have been around for decades, and yet have the very superhero-esque ability to come back to life again and again, fresher and more appealing every time.
In 2011, Warner Bros.' reorganization of DC Entertainment led to an abundance of feature films, the most recent of which (2012's The Dark Knight Rises) brought in more than $1 billion in ticket sales alone. But in the arena of superhero franchises, Marvel's The Avengers takes the prize; the film broke box-office records and inspired hundreds of licensed products in 2012. Both DC and Marvel have also expanded their content to the small screen with superhero-themed TV shows like "Ultimate Spider-Man" on Disney XD and "Green Lantern: The Animated Series" on Cartoon Network.