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‘There’s a real sense of momentum in the business’

Universal Brand Development’s Hannah Mungo talks ambitious market share growth plans.

It’s certainly been a busy 12 months for Universal Brand Development – and a look at its packed portfolio of big hitters only goes to show that there is even more to come.

“We have already achieved a lot in a short space of time,” Hannah Mungo, country director for UK & Ireland, comments. “We’ve established the UK business, assembled a great team and the industry knows exactly what we are all about, which is testament to the excellent people I work alongside.”

Hannah leads a team of nine in the UK and is one of six country directors across the region. Over the past year, she admits that they have essentially started the business from the ground up, growing from 24 people to 65 across the EMEA region.

“We have made the move from using an agency to direct management of brands in-house and have also managed the transition of the newly acquired DreamWorks Animation IP to our portfolio,” Hannah continues. “As a result it’s been a very busy 12 months, but things have come together quickly and there is a real sense of momentum within the business.”

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In terms of stand out performers, DreamWorks’ Trolls and Illumination’s Despicable Me 3 have lead the way.

Further growth is now being eyed for Trolls following its storming success at the box office – and at The Licensing Awards, picking up Best Film Licensed Property and the Best Licensed Marketing Communication Award for the Vosene collaboration.

Trolls 2 is due in 2020, with content teasers premiering at the end of this year and also with campaigns that ensure consumers have regular, immersive ways to connect with the brand even outside of the movie windows. The Trolls Truck toured ten UK retailers this summer, the partnership with Hasbro will continue and there are plans for a Coronation party for Easter 2018 and the Hug Time booth at retail.

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Meanwhile, the depth and diversity of the Despicable Me 3 campaign has been a real highlight, says Hannah. “All of the major retail players were on board, while the franchise also attracted new partners with high street fashion chain River Island joining for 2017, with apparel launched under its River Island Kids brand.”

Experiential activity through the summer also proved key – including London Comic-con takeover, Illumination Square at London Pride and a touring Gru-mobile among others – as the team looked to bring the brand to life. The focus is now on maximising the DVD launch window and, later, working with other divisions to explore the promotional potential of the back catalogue. The marketing theme for 2018 – Destination Mayhem – will be introduced soon.

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Live events will also help to make the Fast & Furious brand more of a family event, says Hannah: “It promises a great shared experience and a great parent-endorsed entry point into the franchise.”

Meanwhile, the amazing heritage of the Jurassic Park franchise just cannot be ignored. The campaign for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – arriving in June 2018 – will run alongside the 25-year celebration of the original Jurassic Park film, reminding fans of its iconic status and offering another way for them to engage with the brand.

Hannah says: “It’s a huge franchise that we’re making the right size for every opportunity at retail and beyond. Toys from Mattel will lead the charge and we anticipate apparel for fans of all ages will also be strong.”

As if the movie portfolio wasn’t strong enough, there is also a newly imagined version of Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (November 2018) and Minions 2 (2020), as well as How To Train Your Dragon 3 (2019).

“With so many growth opportunities, it’s been really exciting,” Hannah concludes. “I know that the strength of our brands, coupled with the talented and experienced team we have assembled, will see UBD achieve strong growth and take significant market share over the next five years.”

Classic turns

As well as its strong movie business, Universal Brand Development also has a healthy portfolio of TV and classic brands and, as Hannah explains, is looking to grow these in the CP space, too.

“We certainly will [be expanding our CP activity to our TV properties], as part of our drive to expand our emerging IPs,” she says. “In 2019, we will be launching several DreamWorks Animation Television series free to air in the UK including Voltron Legendary Defender, Spirit Riding Free, Trollhunters and Dinotrux.”

Hannah says Universal is currently working closely with local channel partners to increase placement on terrestrial and free to air channels in a number of territories for the TV portfolio. Meanwhile, the company also has an enviable back catalogue and there are plans here, too.

“It includes iconic film properties that were largely untouched in terms of licensing – things like E.T The Extra Terrestrial, Jaws and Back to the Future,” says Hannah. “Now they each have a focus in fashion, gifts and lifestyle products. Primark, for example, has just launched a range of Jaws t-shirts for boys.”

Where’s Wally? is also ideal for the UK, says Hannah, as it’s very British. A promotion in Ask restaurants is currently running, giving away an activity pack with every kids’ menu, while a brand strategy is being worked on for 2018 and beyond.

Hannah adds: “These heritage brands are very satisfying to work with because they are so well known – you can be creative with how and where you use them, and a little bit more adventurous with the positioning.”

This feature originally appeared in the autumn 2017 edition of Licensing Source Book. Click here to read the full publication.

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