December 20-2014
The biggest winner for licensing this year was the FIFA World Cup 2014: Jiggy George

FIFA 2014 was not only a huge success story on the viewership front, but a quieter revolution was afoot on the FIFA 2014 licensed merchandise front in a cricket crazy country. The merchandise programme championed by Dream Theatre was a phenomenal success with apparel, bags, and watches being lapped up by eager fans. Fuelled by the latent demand and the huge following that international soccer clubs enjoy in India, we have further strengthened our sports portfolio by adding Real Madrid and AC Milan to its portfolio.

We are at an early stage for licensing in India and entertainment licensing (brands that emanate from entertainment mediums like TV, movies, digital etc.) rules our world. To add to this, a simple rule of thumb works: if it’s popular on TV, it’s popular on licensing.

The one welcome aberration was the digital brands like Angry Birds that have sustained their popularity outside of the core game in the world of merchandising. Rovio is making all efforts to keep the excitement alive via animated shorts, new edition of games until the movie that comes up in 2016.

We at Dream Theatre consolidated our belief in digital brands by signing two iconic digital brands: Talking Tom from Outfit 7 and Candy Crush from King (both brands enjoy more than 1 billion downloads a piece worldwide).

On brands emanating from TV, a theme here to stay is local content that scored yet again and Chotta Bheem continued to rule TV and launched merchandise in slew of categories. There are more brands like Mottu Patlu that have shown popularity and are being licensed into a few categories as we speak. Dream Theatre too jumped on the local content space with Kid Krrish and will be launching a slew of products under the Indian animation banner with Kid Krrish, starting with publishing via its tie-up with Harper Collins, which is in stores now.

Another significant trend within Entertainment licensing in India was the strong presence of Japanese animation. Doremon continues to be a strong show on TV, but the biggest re-launch of the year was the grand re-entry of Pokemon on India Television. Dream Theatre entered the Content Syndication space with its tie-up with Disney on Hungama TV.  A robust programming and promotion strategy has made Pokemon the best-launched show of 2014 and its stellar ratings 16 weeks running has made it one of the biggest shows on Indian Television currently.

Within the entertainment licensing space, I believe Super heroes made a big comeback in India too, echoing the international trend with DC Comics and Marvel dominating the scene. We saw significant launches by Disney via content and they backed it with tying up a range of categories from apparel and bags to back to school supplies and toys. In one of the biggest FMCG promotions of the year, Dream Theatre tied up a Warner Bros. Justice League Promotional Licensing deal with Cadbury Gems, which is currently in stores across India – the promotion has Justice League super hero premiums and is superbly supported by a very fun TVC on air.

In yet another landmark FMCG licensing foray, Dream Theatre’s Parle Biscuits tie-up saw Tom and Jerry Parle Milk Shakti taking biscuit shelves by storm – the launch was promoted with a customised animation Tom and Jerry TVC and followed up with the introduction of double cream flavors echoing Tom and Jerry’s brand DNA. WWE superstars continued their dream run across licensed merchandise in 2014 as well.

I have always maintained that we in India have tow of the three “tickmarks” for licensing growth. We have a vibrant entertainment economy and our consuming class is significant. However, organised retail growth is still limited and not servicing the fans! E-commerce, this year has been a significant catalyst to licensing growth and fueled by private equity money: it is bound to grow further!

In conclusion, Licensing will be one of the most exciting sectors going into 2015. Most of the “majors” have set shop in India and there are a burgeoning number of independent licensing outfits. 2015 will have more local animation shows, more Japanese shows ruling the kid’s entertainment space. There are big Superhero releases with both Marvel and DC slated for release and we all will constantly be looking forward to the brands that disrupt the mold like Angry Birds did a few years back.

We at Dream Theatre will be at the centre of this action, syndicating kids’ content and looking for innovative models for licensing and merchandising across genres.

(These are purely personal views of Dream Theatre, Founder and CEO, Jiggy George and does not subscribe to these views)