Weekly E-news, Issue #245, January 3, 2008

G-III to License New Calvin Klein Line
Phillips-Van Heusen Corp. subsidiary Calvin Klein signed a strategic licensing deal with G-III Apparel Group for a new line of women’s performance apparel. The Calvin Klein Performance line will include athletic and performance wear suitable for sports including yoga, running, tennis, and biking. It is planned to include pants, capris, shorts, tank tops, T-shirts, and hooded jackets, as well as tennis skirts and dresses.

G-III Apparel Group, which already holds licenses under the Calvin Klein brand name for men’s and women’s better outerwear, will distribute the Performance collection to active, sporting goods, department, and specialty stores in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. A soft launch is scheduled for the spring 2008 season, with a complete rollout expected in the fall.

Apple, Fox Plan Movie Deal
Apple Inc. and Twentieth Century Fox are set to announce a deal that will allow consumers to rent movies through Apple’s digital iTunes Store.

The agreement will allow rentals of Fox’s latest DVD releases by downloading a copy from the online iTunes store for a limited time.

Some studios already work with iTunes to enable consumers to purchase movies. This includes Walt Disney, which allows its current titles to be bought online, as well as Paramount, MGM, and Lionsgate, which sell their back library titles.

Stride Rite to Lose Tommy?
Stride Rite Corp. may be in danger of losing its lucrative license to create and sell Tommy Hilfiger-branded shoes.

Collective Brands Inc., the new parent company of the Lexington footwear maker, listed the potential loss of the exclusive license as a risk factor in a regulatory filing in December. The license brought in $93 million in sales for Stride Rite in fiscal 2006.

“Whether the license with Tommy Hilfiger will remain in effect depends, in part, on our achieving certain minimum sales levels for the licensed products,” the company said in its quarterly report for the period ending Nov. 3. “We did not meet the minimum sales threshold for the period ended March 31, 2007. There can be no assurance that we will be able to meet such threshold in the future or that the lease will be renewed.”

Stride Rite has created Tommy Hilfiger shoes for the last 10 years under various short-term licenses that have been renewed and extended. In July 2006, the companies extended the agreement through March and then extended it again through Dec. 31, 2008, in this year’s first quarter.

Revenue from the license, which covers shoes for men, women, and children, was deemed as a “significant” portion of Stride Rite’s business in the company’s last quarterly report, filed in July, before it became part of Collective Brands. It realized $20 million in sales from the license in the second quarter and $41 million for the first six months of the year, according to the filing. In June, Stride Rite said second-half sales would be weaker, due in part to the relocation of its product line in a key department store.

Losing the license would affect the larger Collective Brands, which acquired Stride Rite in August, to a lesser extent, but still would be significant.

In July, Tommy Hilfiger Corp. announced it had bought its European footwear licensee, which generated sales of more than $81 million in the five years since the brand was introduced in Europe.

“We believe that there will be strong continued growth in the future and that integration within the Tommy Hilfiger Group will optimize activities both in terms of product development as well as commercially,” Tommy Hilfiger Group president Fred Gehring said in a statement then. “This acquisition is in line with our strategy to consolidate brand management and approach the market in the most coordinated manner possible.”

Luxottica Set to Expand to India
Luxottica, the Italy-based luxury eyewear company with annual revenues of more than $6 billion, is planning to set up shop in India.

Luxottica Group has in its portfolio eight strong house brands, including Vogue, Persol, Arnette, Revo, and Ray-Ban, the world’s best-selling eyewear brand. It has licensing agreements with fashion brands such as Versace, D&G, Chanel, and DKNY, among others.

The company, already operating in India through its subsidiary Ray Ban India Holdings, is preparing to have a wholly owned subsidiary by the name of Luxottica India Eyewear Pvt Ltd. The company also plans to set up wholesale operations from the beginning of the next calendar year.

The Nutcracker Inks Holiday Home Decor Deal
In the latest deal for its upcoming movie, The Nutcracker: The Real Story, Target Entertainment signed Roman Inc. to produce festive decorations for the 2008 Christmas and holiday season, and beyond.

The deal was negotiated by Richard Oren, Target’s vice president of licensing for USA, Canada, and Latin America. Tying in with the wintertime setting of the movie, it includes seasonal ornaments, nutcrackers, 3D figurines, snow globes, night lights, and yard decor. Nutcracker-themed products are expected to roll out in November 2008 to coincide with the release of the movie and the beginning of the holiday season.

Barcode Kitties Heading to India
Dubai-based STAG International LLC will expand distribution of its Barcode Kitties licensed product lines into India, where there has been growing interest in the girls’ character-branded property featuring cute little kittens with bar codes for whiskers.

STAG already produces Barcode Kitties stationery, notebooks, mouse pads, bags, ceramic mugs and breakfast sets, trolley sets, lunch kits, tins, slippers, and children’s T-shirts, as well as melamine and plasticware for distribution throughout the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, and Yemen.
 
Japan Named Country of Honor at MIPTV 2008
Japan is to be the country of honor of the 45th MIPTV, featuring MILIA, in April 2008. Japan, the second largest TV market in the world, will be celebrated on Japan Day, April 7, through conference sessions focusing on the Japanese animation and format export markets; digital media experts speaking throughout the week, and an opening cocktail party focusing on Japanese programs and genres, such as animé.

Paul Johnson, director of the television division, said: “We are proud to highlight Japan at the 45th MIPTV. Japan has always played an important role at our markets and more importantly is a key player in the global entertainment industry particularly in digital delivery. The Japanese have also been some of our most loyal clients with their attendance at MIPTV dating back over 40 years.”

In 2012, Japan is predicted to be the second-largest market for mobile television services behind the U.S. and ahead of Italy. Nearly 60 percent of the animation produced in the world is currently made in Japan.

MIPTV featuring MILIA will be held in Cannes from April 7-11, 2008.

“Huevocartoon” Goes Mobile
Al Ovadia & Associates inked a licensing deal for its popular Spanish-language animated satirical property “Huevocartoon” with mobile content provider Airborne Entertainment.

“Huevocartoon,” a series of Web-based, flash-animated comedic shorts starring a group of outspoken eggs who partake in satires of cultural and social aspects of life, was launched in Mexico in 2002. Since then, “Huevocartoon” has built a worldwide fan base of more than 100 million people, and has spun off countless projects including an animated film and a full line of merchandise. Airborne’s mobile suite of products will include wallpapers, ringtones, video content, and more, featuring popular “Huevocartoon” characters like Huevo Santa, Osama Bin Huevo, Los Huevos Rancheros, Huevo Zen, and others.

M-1 Global Names Licensing Agent in Japan
M-1 Global LLC, an international mixed martial arts (MMA) organization, signed an agreement with Total Sports Asia (TSA) to represent the company in Japan.

M-1 Global is the newest MMA organization and announced recently the signing of Fedor Emelianenko, who is widely regarded as the best heavyweight MMA fighter in the world. Emelianenko is a household name in Japan, having also won the last heavyweight pride event.

In addition to developing a licensing program for M-1 Global in Japan, TSA will be tasked with developing for M-1 Global a Japanese language Web site, a mobile Web site, and a fan club targeted toward M-1 Global fans in Japan.

Fireback Entertainment Launches “Captain Mack”
UK-based Fireback Entertainment is launching its “Captain Mack” children’s series aimed at 4- to 6-year-olds on CITV in spring 2008.

Using live action and CGI animation, “Captain Mack” follows the adventures of its eponymous brave and daring sky captain who performs daring deeds and flies heroic missions.

Fireback controls worldwide rights and is in final negotiations to secure worldwide TV and video distribution. “Captain Mack” joins the company’s existing children’s IP, including “Tom & Vicky,” also licensed to CITV, as well as “The Treacle People” and “The Fourth King” under license to Channel 4.
 
Basil Brush Back on BBC
UK-based Entertainment Rights’ Basil Brush will be back on live BBC television from Jan. 5 until March 22, with “Basil Brush’s Swap Shop.” The series is made by The Foundation, which is part of the Rdf Media Group.

The agreement between the BBC and The Foundation follows the sixth series of “The Basil Brush Show,” which aired on CBBC and BBC1 in autumn 2007.

The new studio-based live entertainment show is a revival of the classic Noel Edmunds 1970’s “Multi-Coloured Swap Shop,” this time hosted by Basil Brush himself. Presenting alongside Basil Brush will be BAFTA award winning Barney Harwood.

Bulldog Licensing Signs Deals for “Thumb Wrestling Federation”
Bulldog Licensing penned deals for its “Thumb Wrestling Federation: TWF” property, with Aykroyds TDP on apparel and Sambro on toy distribution across the UK.

The live-action comedy series debuted on the BBC in September 2007. Created by the U.S. Animation Collective, “TWF” airs three times a week and the BBC has bought all three finished seasons of the series, while the fourth is currently in production.

Sambro is creating a range of thumb wrestler masks and a toy wrestling ring, based on the original “TWF” ring.

Aykroyds TDP is to launch a range of nightwear and underwear based on the series’ artwork as well as a range of adult T-shirts aimed at the student market.

Executive Moves
Laurent Taieb was promoted to vice president, Nickelodeon and Viacom Consumer Products (NVCP), France. Taieb’s promotion underlines the company’s strategic commitment to expand and deepen its licensing and merchandising operations in the market.

Taieb has managed NVCP’s strategy in France since January 2006, including oversight of “Dora the Explorer,” which under his leadership has become a licensing and merchandising phenomenon. Taieb is also credited with the strong positioning of NVCP’s latest property rollouts including “Go Diego Go!,” which is set to launch in magazine format at the end of 2007, as well as close partnerships with TV Mania and Canal Toys.

As vice president, Taieb will continue to extend NVCP and MTVNF’s portfolio of brands, managing all local consumer products activities, including tentpole events, development and coordination of the organization’s retail presence, plus management of day-to-day relationships with agents such as TF1 Licenses and CPLG.

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