NBCUniversal launches infant and toddler brand

NBCUniversal’s Brand Development division is celebrating all families and the happy chaos of parenthood with the launch of its infant and toddler brand, Welcome to the Universe Baby! – delivering modern, trend-driven collections inspired by fan-favourite NBCUniversal characters, stories and culture-defining moments.

“Welcome to the Universe Baby! embraces the joyful, light-hearted moments of parenthood and reflects the modern lifestyle and attitudes of today’s parents,” says Marc Low, senior vice president and general manager, global lifestyle, Universal Brand Development. “We’ve taken a fresh, uniquely Universal approach to the world of baby, offering style-driven designs that appeal to parents with irresistible character art and catchy editorial,  inspiring them to share their fandom and passion with their own kids.”

With a rich portfolio of beloved global brands under one NBCUniversal banner, Welcome to the Universe Baby! features collections inspired by Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment’s Jurassic World, E.T. the Extra – Terrestrial and JAWS; DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek, Madagascar, How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda; classic properties including Curious George, Felix the Cat and Woody Woodpecker, and much more.

Welcome to the Universe Baby! is launching throughout the summer and autumn in key international territories. In North America, a dedicated Amazon brand store will offer outfit sets and accessories from Bentex and Happy Threads, along with cosy blankets from Crown Crafts and an assortment of soft toys and books. In Europe, collaborations include trend-setting social brands such as Sleep No More and Cribstar, alongside apparel collections launching at major fast fashion retailers such as Kiabi, C&A and Reserved. In Mexico, El Palacio de Hierro is the exclusive launch partner, and in Brazil partnerships include offerings from Riachuelo, Grendene and Capricho, among others.

Bespoke collections will roll out in key international territories beginning spring 2022, with a global expansion across categories, retailers and partnerships continuing throughout 2023.

IMG acquires Dubai’s 20too Licensing as it expands global licensing business

IMG, a specialist in sports, events, fashion, and media, has acquired the Dubai-based 20too Licensing agency to further expand the global footprint of its licensing business.

Established in 2013, 20too Licensing manages consumer product development and brand extensions in the Middle East and North Africa for many of the world’s most popular entertainment and lifestyle brands, including NBCUniversal, Hasbro, The Smurfs, Sega, Smiley, the Discovery portfolio of brands such as Fatafeat, Food Network, Animal Planet and Discovery Channel.

The acquisition will bolster IMG’s presence in the MENA region, with 20too Licensing’s founder and CEO, Christian Zeidler becoming vice president of licensing at IMG, and he and his team moving into IMG’s Dubai office.

IMG represents some of the world’s most prestigious corporate trademarks and institutions, sports brands, teams and federations, fashion labels, lifestyle, media and entertainment properties, as well as major personalities. The agency executes strategic licensing programs for its clients through 25 offices located in major markets across the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Bruno Maglione, president of licensing at IMG, commented: “This is an exciting acquisition for our licensing business and ever-growing portfolio of prestigious clients. Christian and his team have built one of the MENA region’s most successful licensing agencies through creative, strategic brand ideation married to a deep knowledge of the region’s business environment and culture.

“His team will now have the full support and resources of the global IMG network and Endeavor infrastructure, and we in turn reinforce the reach and expertise of our unique licensing organisation.”

Zeidler said: “IMG is the universally recognised licensing industry powerhouse, and we are proud to become part of this extraordinary organisation. We look forward to leveraging their diverse experience and depth of resource with our specialised regional expertise to turbo-charge our activity on behalf of our clients in this region rich with ever-emerging new opportunities.”

Universal Pictures will make new releases available for On Demand immediately

Current movies from the Universal Pictures stable, including the upcoming family film, Trolls World Tour, will be made available on demand at the same time they hit the theatres that remain open during the coronavirus pandemic, NBCUniversal has confirmed.

The new policy collapses the traditional theatrical window as the film industry grapples with unprecedented circumstances. Cinemas are entirely closed in 32 or more markets overseas and partially closed in another 15 territories, while more countries are expected to follow suit.

Most, if not all, cinemas are likely to ‘go dark’ this week in the US, where theatres have already been ordered to go dark in New York City and Los Angeles. Other locales are also seeing closures, while circuits staying open are starting to limit capacity to 50 people per auditorium per new CDC guidelines.

Movies will be made available on a wide variety of on-demand services for a 48-hour rental period at a suggested retail price of $19.99 in the US and the price equivalent in international markets. The announcement was made by NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell. Insiders say it isn’t a blanket policy for the studio’s entire 2020 calendar and that decisions regarding other titles and the duration of the policy haven’t been made yet.

The studio is hoping to provide options for consumers who cannot or should not go to cinemas.

“Given the rapidly evolving and unprecedented changes to consumers’ daily lives during this difficult time, the company felt that now was the right time to provide this option in the home as well as in theatres. NBCUniversal will continue to evaluate the environment as conditions evolve and will determine the best distribution strategy in each market when the current unique situation changes,” read the company’s release.

“Universal Pictures has a broad and diverse range of movies with 2020 being no exception. Rather than delaying these films or releasing them into a challenged distribution landscape, we wanted to provide an option for people to view these titles in the home that is both accessible and affordable.

“We hope and believe that people will still go to the movies in theatres where available, but we understand that for people in different areas of the world that is increasingly becoming less possible.”

The on-demand release of Trolls World Tour will benefit from the full arsenal of a marketing campaign already underway, including Comcast, NBCUniversal and Sky’s cross-company Symphony support, which will be in full effect, according to the studio.