Key Hasbro executives – including Casey Collins and Marianne James – discuss being mindful of the needs of consumers, new content and the return of location-based entertainment.
A plethora of senior executives from Hasbro lined up yesterday (October 6) to take part in a Festival of Licensing panel session – and touched on everything from the integration of eOne and the new content pipeline, through to shifting theatrical dates.
However, the over riding message from Casey Collins (gm and svp global consumer products), Marianne James (vp EMEA consumer products), Matthew Proulx (vp location-based entertainment), Michael Kelly (vp global publishing) and Paula Kupfer (senior director global promotions) was that while there are still many unknowns, licensing is a resilient business.
Casey said that the company had successfully been able to integrate eOne throughout the lockdown period, commenting: “We have created the very best combined team to drive and leverage the growth of our brands. I truly believe we have one of the deepest and most well balanced portfolios in the entire industry.”
Marianne said that Hasbro has been ready to pivot and diversify its category base: “We’re looking at moving quickly and strategically into those areas which families are spending their time in now,” she said. “We’re trying to align ourselves with trends that are familiar with the home environment such as health and nutrition and arts and crafts, for example. We’re mindful of the needs of consumers – we know that the work and home environments have blended now, so we’re trying to ensure that our categories are reflecting that.”
The company has also been accelerating its ecommerce plan and bringing it forward into everyday business.
“Licensing is resilient,” pointed out Marianne. “While there are still big unknowns, in our industry we can create products which are able to meet what consumers need now, in terms of their spending levels, etc.”
The company is also bullish with regards to location-based entertainment and its eventual return, as Matthew Proulx explained.
“In the short-term, [the pandemic] has obviously had a major impact because social gatherings are ultimately at the heart of location-based entertainment,” he told panel moderator Ben Roberts, content editor UK and EMEA at License Global. “In the long-term, it’s given people a chance to think about where this business can go. People will want to get out and do things together and we’re going to see them emerging and wanting to experience these kind of things.
“Malls are also going to be restructuring themselves – they will need to be shopping centres and entertainment centres, which gives us a great opportunity.”
On the subject of new content, Casey said that there are over 34 active projects in the pipeline, covering a variety of platforms and utilising eOne’s capabilities. “This includes the likes of films, animation, short-form content, etc,” he said. “I have never seen this many projects at my time at Hasbro; it’s very exciting.”
In terms of big releases for 2021, the new My Little Pony movie has been dated for September 24, while Snake Eyes (the GI Joe film) is currently slated for October 22.
“These are two very different movies, but they are two amazing franchises which we are looking to excel through entertainment,” Casey explained. “Of course, no one has a crystal ball but we feel good about the dates right now.”
Marianne concluded: “But our IP is not just theatrically led. It is very important to us, but there is also the core 365 content and the new content which is coming through the pipeline, too.”