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The Licensing Q&A… with Tom Gunn

The Source delves a bit deeper into the licensing lives of some high profile execs. Today, it’s the turn of Nickelodeon’s Tom Gunn.

Tom Gunn,
International Brand Director EMEA, Nickelodeon and Viacom Consumer Products

My route into the licensing industry went something like this…

I started out in publishing, moved over to retail and marketing on licensed publishing before moving fully over to marketing and brand management across all licensed products.

How many years in the industry?

Six – one at Disney, two at Warner Bros and three at Nickelodeon.

When I was growing up, I had no idea licensing was an industry so I wanted to be…

A concert pianist – but I was too lazy to put in the practice.

The deal I am most proud of is…

The creation of a Harry Potter shop in Harrods in 2011. It was done to coincide with the DVD release of the final film and involved a huge range of licensing partners, Bloomsbury, the DVDs, videogames and the just-about-to-launch Harry Potter Studio Tour. It was a fully immersive installation using real props from the films, sets created for the huge premieres and of course all of the fantastic product created over the 10 years of the film franchise. It was a fan’s paradise!

My most interesting experience in licensing has been…

Getting to work on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I was a huge fan of the series, and toys, as a kid so it was great to be able to be part of a huge team that helped bring these fantastic characters back for a new generation. As well as being a kids’ property we also create product for the original series so older fans like myself can indulge in a bit of nostalgia as well.

Flynn Rider

In a film of your life, which licensed character would play you?

Flynn Rider from Tangled (how I wish I looked!).

The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is…

To learn as much as you can from the people around you. Licensing is such a diverse industry with people from all sorts of professional backgrounds who all bring unique perspective and knowledge.

If I wasn’t in licensing, I would be…

Leading Harry Potter walking tours.

Who do you admire most in the industry (and why)?

George Lucas. He is best known as a film director but he, more than anyone, helped create the licensing industry as we know today, as well as creating one of the most successful film franchises ever.

If I could change anything about the industry, it would be…

The reliance on a relatively small number of properties. Newness is the lifeblood of any industry and it can be hard for new properties and ideas to break through when the shelves are often so dominated by large franchise properties that have been around for decades. Nostalgia and creating shared experiences are brilliant and important, but it’s the IP that’s aimed just at the kids that I find really exciting.

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