Weekly E-News, March 16, 2004

Soaking up SpongeBob Fun
Nickelodeon wants families to soak up the sun with its favorite sea sponge in a unique partnership with the Cayman Islands. The pair will partner on the first Cayman Islands Sea School with SpongeBob. This free program is designed to give children who are going to be in the Cayman Islands this summer the opportunity to have fun while learning about the island's marine environment. The sessions will include a SpongeBob episode, a short talk on the importance of preserving the marine environment, hands-on activities--both indoor and outdoor--and customized activity books and crafts. At the conclusion of the program, each child will receive a diploma presented by SpongeBob. The partnership is one ingredient of a multifaceted marketing campaign underway for The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, due in theaters November 19.

Equity Marketing Still Top Dog for Scooby-Doo
Warner Bros. Consumer Products extended its global licensing deal with Equity Marketing as master toy licensee for Scooby-Doo. As part of the multi-year deal, the company was granted distribution rights in the U.S., Canada, and other international regions. Equity Marketing currently manufactures a line of action figures, playsets, and basic and feature plush, and will create toys based on the upcoming live-action sequel, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed.

Oldham Designs New La-Z-Boy Collection
Todd Oldham will bring his creative side to a line of home furnishings this spring at La-Z-Boy. The funky, yet practical Todd Oldham by La-Z-Boy collection features furnishings for the living and family rooms including the "Snap" sofa with a removable back and arms; the "Toybox" ottoman with an upholstered pillow top that lifts up; and the "Arc" reclining chair that has no right angles, but a series of modern arcing lines. The collection also includes coordinating tables, entertainment cabinets, rugs, and accessories.

National Geographic Grows Portfolio
National Geographic expanded its licensing program, signing on Sphinx by Oriental Weavers to create a line of decorative area rugs that celebrate the cultures, traditions, and diversity of the world, while complementing the existing home collection. The initial product mix will include five different natural fiber colorations, constructions, and price points, and will be launched at the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market in July. All net proceeds go to the Society's World Cultures Fund to support the study and preservation of world cultures. In other news, National Geographic partnered with EganaGoldpfeil USA on a collection of watches inspired by expedition and exploration. The National Geographic Explorer Watch Collection will debut in Basel, Switzerland, next month; its U.S. introduction will follow at the Watch and Jewelry Show in Las Vegas in June.

Trio Pair on Star Wars: Clone Wars promotion
Lucasfilm Ltd., Cartoon Network, and Hasbro will participate in an exclusive promotion with ConAgra Foods and its Chef Boyardee kids' brand. The fully integrated marketing campaign centers on the March 26 TV premiere of Star Wars: Clone Wars, an animated micro series based on the classic Star Wars characters. The program runs through May 31 and includes an instant-win sweepstakes on the back of Chef Boyardee can labels, a self-liquidating offer for free videos, exclusive online gaming, collectible digital trading cards, and online drawings for series' posters and Lucasfilm home videos.

MZB Lands David & Goliath License
MZB was named master timepiece and accessory licensee for David & Goliath and will create a line of watches, clocks, accessories, and gifts due at specialty and department stores in spring/summer 2004. The watch line will include graffiti patterns, jumbo cases, and leather and multicolored straps. Additional David & Goliath timepiece designs are expected to include oversized metal twin bell alarm clocks, molded wall clocks, and other retro-inspired alarm clocks. Two freestanding David & Goliath stores recently opened in Hawaii and London with additional stores to come in Las Vegas, Tampa, and New York. The property is represented for licensing by King Features Syndicate.

Licensees on Board for Astro Boy
The licensing program for Astro Boy is taking shape with Bandai America and Briarpatch bringing products to market for back-to-school 2004. As worldwide master toy licensee (excluding Asia), Bandai will create a series of action figures, an 11-inch electronic interactive Astro figure, role-play toys, vehicles, and playsets. Briarpatch is developing a series of board games, travel games, and games in collector tins for children ages 6 and up. Astro Boy premiered on Cartoon Network's Toonami block on Monday, March 8.

Hummer Electronics Makes Retail Debut
Conair Consumer Electronics Division will launch a line of Hummer electronic products as part of an exclusive licensing deal with General Motors. In an unconventional move, the line recently debuted at Bloomingdale's and also will be sold in other high-end distribution channels. The initial product line will include a 7-mile, two-way radio product with a built-in digital compass and portable audio products, including a replica Hummer H2 that is also an AM-FM/alarm clock/CD player.

Retail Moves
Kmart hired Paul Guyardo as senior vice president and chief marketing officer. In his new post, Guyardo will spearhead marketing, advertising, promotions, and external communications. Last year, Kmart shifted its advertising and marketing duties to Karen Austin, its chief information officer. Guyardo now will assume the advertising and marketing responsibilities, while Austin will remain CIO. Guyardo joins the retailer after eight years at HSN, where he served as executive vice president of television and marketing. In other retail news, Rick Leto, executive vice president and general merchandise manager of apparel and accessories, resigned from Kohl's. On an interim basis, the apparel and accessories and product development functions will report to Kevin Mansell, Kohl's president, who currently oversees all merchandising as part of his responsibilities.

K'B Toys Makes Additional Cuts
K'B Toys further trimmed its headcount, cutting 81 total jobs at its corporate office and distribution center. The retailer will shutter its distribution center in Pittsfield, MA, but will continue operating distribution centers in Glendale, AZ; Montgomery, AL; and Clinton, NJ.

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