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“2019 was an incredible year for Millimages”

Source chats to director of marketing Lise Cosentino about growth for Molang and Pirata & Capitano, plus new launches.

Firstly, how was 2019 in general for Millimages? What were the highlights?

2019 was an incredible year for Millimages and probably one of the most exciting for the company. Molang season four was produced and delivered; Molang launched on Netflix worldwide in July 2019; Molang featured in every Happy Meal (McDonald’s) in France from October to December 2019 and launched on major TV channels such as CCTV in China and KIKA in Germany.

Molang gifs were viewed more than six billion times and on social media, more than two million fans follow Molang pages every day. We also launched the first Molang online store in France, offering an exclusive consumer experience to our fans.

Meanwhile, Pirata & Capitano has been launched on major TV channels such as CCTV in China and Discovery in the US, while season two has just started to be produced.

Can you talk me through some of the latest developments for the Molang brand – in terms of TV, digital and consumer products?

The fourth season (52 episodes x 5 minutes) has been, for us, the most challenging one. In this season, Molang and Piu Piu’s timeless friendship goes back a long way. From the Stone Age to the 20th century, from Greek Antiquity to the Royal Court of Versailles, our much loved and acclaimed heroes take over history with their invariable wit and good spirit.

We have been working a lot on the backgrounds, props and new characters. Our team of designers went several times to the Louvre Museum to find inspiration and create, for instance, MOLANG’s hieroglyphs inspired by the real Egyptian ones. Every episode is a piece of art!

We also produced exclusively for the digital platforms, special video collections such as My Best Week compilations or behind the scenes videos. On YouTube, we have multiplied by four the number of our daily views.

On social media, we had a lot of fun producing pop culture posts such as La Casa de Papel, Ghostbusters, Peaky Blinders or Rick and Morty parodies. Our fanbase on Youtube, Facebook and Instagram is constantly growing.

Molang gifs have now been viewed more than six billion times and the brand has over two million fans on social media.
Molang gifs have now been viewed more than six billion times and the brand has over two million fans on social media.

Can you tell us more about the promotion with McDonald’s?

It was the first time for us that we have the chance to collaborate with a major QSR brand. Molang stationery packs were distributed in more than 1,450 restaurants all over France for 6 weeks. This was a strong opportunity for us and the impact on the brand awareness has been immediate.

Several months before the launch, we worked closely with McDonald’s France on a strong communication plan. We produced several ads for TV and social media as well. We promoted the collaboration with several posts on our social media pages, as well as a contest for our French fans.

In terms of CP, where do you see the major growth areas for Molang going forward?

Lifestyle product is a key category we strongly need to develop. Molang is not only a preschool property, but a transgenerational IP. Our fanbase is wide – from preschoolers to adult fan of Kawaii and cuteness. Most of our followers on our social media pages have between 18 to 24 years old.

The six-week promotion with McDonald's saw Molang featured in over 1,450 restaurants across France.
The six-week promotion with McDonald's saw Molang featured in over 1,450 restaurants across France.

Can you tell us some of the latest developments for Pirata & Capitano – in terms of TV, digital and consumer products?

The first TV season of Pirata & Capitano is a strong success worldwide. In the US, on Discovery Family Channel, the ratings are 20% above the channel average, while on Milkshake UK, it is the second most watched programme. In Italy, the show achieves 19% of the market share for ages four to seven.

We are currently working on the production of the second season. We have specially designed a wide collection of new vehicles and boats, and Pirata & Capitano is the most toyetic IP we have ever produced.

The awareness of the show is just starting on social media platforms. In only three months, our community has been multiplied by ten. We want our pages to be a reference for families looking for pirate-themed assets (DIY activities, videos, edutainment games, etc).

What do you see as the major growth areas for the brand in terms of CP?

Play-sets and figurines, but also water toys fitting the ‘friendly’ pirates’ universe of the show.

Preschool is a very crowded category – what’s P&C’s USP? How can it stand out – both on screen and on shelf?

The quality of this 3D CGI show is outstanding. Pirata & Capitano is the first animation series to be fully produced in ‘Global Illumination’, using technology developed by Dwarf Studios. The character design and the backgrounds are strongly toyetic.

The pirates thematic is universal and has always been a favourite with children. With Pirata & Capitano, we wanted to add a twist and to inspire little girls as well. Pirata is positive, cheerful and lively. She is the brilliant charismatic captain of the Pink Skull. She is a pirate for whom adventure cannot wait.

How were all the trade shows (both TV and CP) for Millimages last year? What benefits do you feel you get from either exhibiting or visiting? What shows are next on your radar?

We are always very busy during trade shows – our line-up is very popular worldwide and since 1991 we have built very good relationships with major partners.

Our booth during last MIPCOM was very appreciated as we are the only company to present during a TV trade show our wide collection of merchandising products in showcases. We also appreciated the new location of Brand Licensing Europe. It has facilitated discussions with our licensees.

Our TV and licensing and merchandising teams will be next attending MIP Cancun, ATF, Asia Licensing Conference/HK Toys & Games Fair, Nuremberg Toy Fair, New York Toy Fair, Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Bologna Children’s Book Fair and Kidscreen.

Pirata & Capitano is the second most watched programme on Milkshake in the UK.
Pirata & Capitano is the second most watched programme on Milkshake in the UK.

What are some of the biggest challenges the licensing business will face in 2020, in your opinion? How is Millimages placed to overcome these?

Today, licensees can choose from so many IPs and the leading ones are owned by huge studios, not always supportive and able to react quickly locally. Millimages takes very good care of its network of licensees and is committed to every step of the value chain from IP creation to products at retail.

Our strength is that we are a fully integrated independent studio structured to propose on demand and tailored solutions (additional content, marketing campaigns, etc). We have also team up with great local licensing agents – including Licensing Link Europe in the UK – which help us to adjust our strategies depending on local market changes.

We also believe that the current biggest challenge for the licensing business is the growing concern from consumers about their environmental impact. We are keen to work with licensees who are sharing the same value.

In terms of your home territory of France, how healthy is the licensing industry in general?

France is very competitive and if the country’s growth is positive, the consumption has not followed up entirely. Licensees used to get ten IPs a few years back, now their selection process has a new level of scrutiny and they are expecting full support from the licensor including a solid communication plan, promotion on social media and activation in retail.

Are there other brands in the Millimages portfolio which could be further developed through licensing?

We are currently working on a new Kawaii IP which some of you might have seen during the BLE. It is called The Valentines (working title) and it targets young adults. We know we have a strong design on our hands as the characters are already a hit on the GIPHY platform. In only five months, our gifs have been seen more than 200 million times.

Where would you like to be in licensing in say five years’ time?

In five years, Molang will be a major IP comparable to the Hello Kitty phenomenon – 3,000 skus will be available worldwide and our network of licensees will have increased up to 150.

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