Entertainment licensing is a fluid process. A brand debuts, gets attention and licensees and then, if it succeeds, moves into new cycles of line extensions and licensees.
This process means that brand marketers constantly have opportunities to get involved with entertainment licenses, and licensors stay alert to marketers' interest.
"It's an ongoing process of looking for new partners," said Leslye Schaefer, senior vice president of marketing and consumer products at Scholastic Productions.
This formula will hold true in 1996, which is shaping up as a strong year for entertainment licensing.
Schaefer, for example, has one of the hottest licenses around: the Goosebumps line of scary books for young people (it also airs on the Fox Children's Network). "People are knocking our doors down about Goosebumps," she said.
As an example of how licensees rotate through a property, Schaefer said General Mills' Honey Nut Cheerios did a tie-in last fall, followed by a Kraft Handi-Snacks tie-in set for this spring. Scholastic also anticipates mounting what Schaefer called "a comprehensive consumer promotion that involves a number of brands beginning next fall."
Elsewhere, 20th Century Fox is already mulling follow-up ideas for licenses for its major summer theatrical release, "Independence Day."
"It will do for aliens what 'Jurassic Park' did for dinosaurs," said Michael Malone, vice president of licensing and merchandising at 20th Century Fox Licensing and Merchandising. (The movie is about an alien invasion, and will be released on July 3).
The company has already licensed games, models, trading cards and other merchandise, with packaged goods companies still to be announced. Malone is already looking ahead. "Depending on the legs of the movie and the reception to the merchandise, we are looking to extend the license with a second line to coincide with the projected video release or the success of the film," he said.
Another big fall license is "The Mask" animated series. It debuted in 1995 and will be airing six days per week this fall, according to David Imhoff, vice president of licensing and merchandising at New Line Cinema and Television. That exposure is crucial to selling licensed products such as Halloween tie-ins (a natural, obviously, for "The Mask"). In a spring promotion, the animated character will appear on flagship Quaker Oats cereal brands from May through the end of the summer.
"It may be positioned as a perennial," Imhoff said of the license's success in attracting partners.
The Halloween season promises to be another busy one for the Official Universal Studios Monsters from MCA/Universal Merchandising. In this case, a company has an ongoing relationship with M&M/Mars, which uses the license for retail displays each Halloween season, according to Anne Giangardella, vice president of promotion at MCA/Universal.
MCA/Universal has other licenses available with back-to-school possibilities, including Casper and Earthworm Jim. The latter is based on a successful video game and TV show. Giangardella said, "We have developed a diversified product mix, with classical and theatrical licenses. It gives brand marketers a lot of different things to choose from."