Beanstalk’s chairman Michael Stone authors licensing book; Target ups the ante in the holiday toy wars; NFLPA’s top licensed product player sales; Walmart makes another online acquisition; USWNT presents World Cup opportunities; and other licensing news highlights of the week.

Licensing, marketing and retail expert/opinion leader Tony Lisanti, provides insight and perspective for the top headlines of the week. “Licensing and Merchandising Report” is a must read for top execs who want objective, straightforward and authoritative analysis. 

Beanstalk’s Stone Pens Power of Licensing

Beanstalk’s chairman and cofounder Michael Stone has officially released his new book that reflects the veteran licensing executive’s experiences, wisdom and accomplishments during his 30-year career spearheading many impressive corporate brand licensing initiatives.

The Power of Licensing: Harnessing Brand Equity (ABA Book Publishing) is part textbook, part memoir, and part how-to that reflects Stone’s personal experiences and success in brand licensing. It is a collection of business advice, anecdotes, and case studies that provide relevant information as well as an interesting read.

For any longstanding licensing and brand executive it’s a narrative that is informative and insightful in many key business scenarios. For aspiring licensing executives, it’s a convincing account of how rewarding and how much fun the business of brand licensing can be. For students, it’s one valuable lesson after another. And for everyone else, it’s a series of case studies about what brand licensing is, how it has evolved and why it’s become such an important business strategy for so many of the world’s leading brand owners.

The Power of Licensing is a quintessential business book that eliminates the hype and drama associated with today’s major titles and delivers the straightforward perspective and advice that readers really want. Even the unassuming cover with its red background and book title in big bold black type elicits Stone’s simple and direct real-world business approach.

Highlights of the 13 chapters of the 356-page book include: “The Evolution of Brand Licensing,” “The Benefits: The advantages of harnessing brand equity through licensing; “Celebrity Licensing;” “Understanding and Mitigating the Risks;” plus chapters devoted to international and the future of licensing.

With the sometimes used inner-circle nickname, “Godfather of Licensing,” Stone recounts the stories of several major brands that he worked with throughout his career in licensing including Coca-Cola, Stanley Black & Decker, Procter and Gamble, and HGTV, just to name a few.

Stone spent several years writing this book and ultimately, he found a way to get it done, which is a business lesson of sorts in itself. And so many readers will be glad that he did.

Target’s Major Toy Push

With holiday toy sales up for grabs this year, Target’s latest move indicates how serious the retailer’s commitment is to the category, but it also reinforces how high the stakes are and how important they are to toy companies and major licensors.

It’s not only a smart move for Target to emphasize the toy category for holiday, but to expand its assortment and improve its in-store design and approach to become a destination department year-round.

Target’s toy strategy consists of several moves that will launch in the next few weeks, including:

  • The expansion of toy departments by 250,000 sq. ft. across 500 stores;
  • The remodeling of toy departments in more than 100 stores;
  • A larger selection of toys and improved inventory that doubles last year’s offerings to more than 2,500 new and exclusive products;
  • Extensive in-store events for families;
  • An improved digital experience.

“For many guests, finding the perfect toy to wrap up and give their little loved ones this holiday is going to be their top priority. We want them to know that Target is here to help,” said Mark Tritton, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, Target. “Our team has spent months preparing for this season, selecting the assortment, deepening our inventory to offer more of the hottest items and reimagining the experience we have for toys in our stores and online. We’re excited to welcome more shoppers to Target this season and help them create memorable moments for years to come.”

In order to accommodate more toys such as electric ride-on vehicles, playhouses, outdoor playsets, Target will downsize its space for CDs and books.

Last month, Target unveiled Bullseye’s Top Toys for 2018, featuring the season’s hottest picks, including exclusive products—Melissa & Doug Deluxe One Stop Shop Play Store, furReal Rock-A-Too Show Bird, Pikmi Pops Giant Pikmi Flip, Lupita doll and book set. In-store events will include character appearances from Paw Patrol, Minecraft, and L.O.L. Surprise!, among others.

Target’s print toy catalog will arrive in homes next week and will be available in stores on Oct. 28. It will feature a new digital integration within the Target mobile app that enables consumers to use the barcode scanner to access product details, etc.

Walmart Adds to List of Online Acquisitions

When the world’s largest retailer acquired jet.com two years ago, it marked the beginning of an aggressive strategy and commitment to revamp its ecommerce business and become more focused and competitive with Amazon.

And thus far it seems to be working as Walmart has significantly grown its ecommerce sales by 40% in its most recent Q2 report and strengthened its portfolio.

It’s latest acquisition of Bare Essentials, a leading intimates online retailer, marks the seventh company Walmart has purchased since August 2016. The businesses include: Jet, Shoebuy, Moosejaw, Modcloth, Bonobos, and ELOQUII, which was also acquired this month.

‘The acquisition of Bare Necessities fits well into our broader acquisition strategy, which includes two different types of companies: 1) category leaders with specialized expertise and assortment that can help enhance the customer experience on Walmart.com and Jet.com [think Hayneedle, Moosejaw and Shoes.com] and 2) digital brands that offer unique products customers can’t find anywhere else [think Bonobos, Modcloth and the recently-acquired ELOQUII]. Bare Necessities fits into the former,” said Denise Incandela, head of fashion for Walmart U.S. e-commerce.

Noah Wrubel, CEO and co-founder of Bare Necessities, will lead the intimates category for both Walmart.com and Jet.com, while also continuing to run Bare Necessities.

NFLPA’s Releases Top 50 Players’ Sales

Tom Brady, New England Patriots quarterback, reclaimed the No. 1 spot in overall sales of licensed merchandise for the period March 1 to August 31. Brady is the only player to top the NFLPA’s quarterly sales list six different times. The top 10 among all licensed products sold were:

  1. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
  2. Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
  3. Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
  4. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
  5. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
  6. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
  7. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers
  8. Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
  9. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
  10. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants

Top individual players for licensed product sales in specific categories include:

  • Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Pat Mahomes topped sales of all women’s collegiate fashion tops from G-III Apparel Group.
  • New York Giants’ Saquon Barkley topped collegiate co-branded Fathead wall decal sales.
  • New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski’s University of Arizona jersey led all players among sales of collegiate co-branded jerseys from adidas, Fanatics and Nike.
  • Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott sold the most jerseys from June 1 through August 31, including men’s, women’s and children’s versions.
  • Philadelphia Eagles’ Nick Foles sold the most autographed memorabilia from Fanatics Authentic and The Highland Mint.
  • Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott sold the most player calendars by The Lang Companies.
  • Brady led all players in socks sold by Strideline, FBF Originals and Freaker.
  • Brady ranked No. 1 for Funko Pop! Vinyl sales.
  • New York Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. brought led sales of cake toppers from DecoPac.
  • Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson sold more licensed novelty products by Wincraft including buttons, clocks, drinkware, flags, banners, jewelry, luggage tags, tattoos, towels, welcome mats, and more.

You can view the complete list here.

USWNT Kicks into World Cup Mode

The U.S. women’s national team qualified for the World Cup 2019 earlier this week with a win over Jamaica in the CONCACAF tournament, moving on to the championship to defaeat rival Canada.

The USWNT has the potential to be one of the most popular group of athletes as it continues its journey to FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019, which begins June 7 in host country France with the finals scheduled for July 7 in Lyon. Its players are popular stars, from veterans who were on the last championship team in 2015 to new players who are part of team for the first time.

As in previous women’s world cup appearances, the USWNT has garnered huge fan support, which translates into a huge merchandising opportunity.

The USWNT players are represented by REP Worldwide, a brand management agency that NFLPA is major shareholder.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

With four weeks to go before the 92nd annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, Macy’s has unveiled its new approach this year partnering with Netflix and its new film, The Christmas Chronicles. The parade will feature four balloons depicting the elf stars from the film: Fleck, Bjorn, Jojand and Hugg.

“The Parade’s signature mix of whimsy and magic is the perfect place to showcase Santa’s loveable elves who team up to save Christmas in the film and ignite joy in the hearts of millions along the Parade route and in homes across the nation,” said Jordan Dabby, vice president, partnership marketing for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The Macy’s Parade, which has historically marked the official beginning of Christmas season with the arrival of Santa, will again provide a huge boost for holiday shopping.

And in the first year without Toys ‘R’ Us, it will help drive toy sales and boost awareness of popular characters and licensed products. This year’s parade will include such popular franchises and brands including Pillsbury Doughboy, Pikachu, Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, Ronald McDonald, Charlie Brown, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Flying Fish, the Nutcracker, Sinclair’s Dino, Paw Patrol’s Chase, Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, Super Wings’ Jett, and Olaf from Disney’s Frozen, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Elf On The Shelf, Toothless from How To Train Your Dragon, and Trolls the Hidden World.

The Christmas Chronicles, a new holiday film tells the story of a sister and brother whose Christmas Eve plan to catch Santa Claus on camera turns into an unexpected journey, will debut on Netflix on Thursday, Nov. 22.

Licensing Deals of the Week

Joester Loria: Corona branded limes

From licensee Earth Source Trading, Corona-branded limes will be available year-round and are sourced from the Michoacán region in Mexico. The Corona limes will be packaged in both units of 6 packs of limes and bulk boxes and are intended to be merchandised in the beer aisle not in the produce section.

Seltzer Licensing: Popeye’s biscuit mix

From licensee C.H. Guenther & Son the buttermilk biscuit baking mix will launch at more than 3,000 Walmart stores. It will be featured in the baking aisle.

Broad Street Licensing: Tony Roma’s sauce

The popular restaurant brand is exporting its premium American BBQ products to Walmart/Seiyu in Japan. The program will feature a new Tokyo BBQ sauce, which was developed exclusively for Walmart/Seiyu and the Japanese market, plus other Tony Roma’s menu items including baby back ribs, pulled pork, seafood, and BBQ sauces.

NOTE: Please be sure to look for my insights, Lisanti on Licensing, every Friday. You can sign up here.