Cherokee expands Tony Hawk; Music licensing icon Dell Furano sells Epic Rights; Target adds PL baby brand; Lowes partners with NFL; NBA extends 2K Partnership; Sears still hanging on; plus other licensing and retail news.

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.

Cherokee Unveils Upscale Collection  

The Batra Group and Cherokee Global Brands unveiled its new streetwear brand, the Tony Hawk Signature Line, during Paris Fashion Week.

This new initiative could be a strong shot in the arm for the brand owner as it looks towards future growth and expansion. Eric Beder, a financial analyst at Small Cap Consumer Research who closely follows Cherokee and attended the Paris event, stated in his research report: “We are reiterating our Buy rating, $1.75 price target and estimates for CHKE after attending the launch of the Tony Hawk Signature Line and new Hi-Tec offerings. We believe both of these lines, by creating a luxury tone, will bolster overall sales and brand image and create opportunities for further expansion in the mid tiers for Tony Hawk and Hi-Tec. One of our key Cherokee theses has been the company becoming more aggressive in expanding and upgrading their stable of brands, driving desirability from potential licensees and users; we view the Paris event as a key strategic step forward and reiterate our Buy rating.”

To officially launch the collection, a special photography exhibition was held featuring the skateboarder who was photographed by Anton Corbijn. Tony Hawk said, “The vision behind the range was to give fashion and skate enthusiasts alike a rare glimpse into my life before and beyond skating. So, when the opportunity arose to work with Corbijn—someone who shares a mutual passion for music and raw, unfiltered art—I knew instinctively that the creative direction would be extraordinary.”

The Autumn/Winter 2019 range—“designed for fans, innovators and iconoclasts,” according to Hawk—arrives late June in select top tier fashion and specialty skate stores globally.

Henry Stupp, CEO of Cherokee Global Brands, said, “Continuing to raise the profile of skateboarding and streetwear globally as we move towards the 2020 Summer Olympics was part of the motivation behind this launch. Most importantly, the collection was inspired by the multi-faceted self-made man that Tony is—he is unequivocally the most credible and iconic voice in skate culture. But he is more than just an iconic skater & global sports personality. We are proud to celebrate Tony—the father, entrepreneur and philanthropist.” 

Dell Furano Sells Epic Rights

Universal Music Group’s Bravado division has acquired boutique music licensing agency Epic Rights, which was formed by pioneer and veteran executive Dell Furano in 2014.

Epic Rights represents such a diverse group of artists including KISS, Billy Joel, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, AC/DC, Eric Clapton, Kevin Hart, 21 Savage, Madonna, Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, Sting, David Bowie, Lionel Richie, Hollywood Vampires, Britney Spears, *NSYNC, Zac Brown Band, ZZ Top, Marc Anthony, the Woodstock festival, and CBGB.

This deal makes sense for both brand agencies providing Epic Rights with more resources and global reach while giving Bravado top artists in different genres that it can expand worldwide. It also gives Bravado the insights and perspective of Furano, a pioneer in music licensing.

As part of the agreement, Furano, along with his team, will remain with Bravado working with their roster of artists.

Mat Vlasic, CEO of Bravado, said, “As the industry’s preeminent brand management company, we are constantly looking for ways to evolve our company while providing fans around the world with an ever-growing array of products and experiences. I’m excited to work with Dell, a true icon in our industry, and expand the Bravado portfolio.”

“I have great respect for Mat and his teams at Bravado and Universal Music—they have taken product development, marketing and global distribution to an entirely new level,” said Furano. “I’m very proud of all that we’ve achieved at Epic Rights and look forward to expanding Epic’s roster and artist services in this next chapter.”

Lowe’s Builds Partnership with NFL

The National Football League has named Lowe’s Companies the official home improvement retail sponsor of the NFL.

The exclusive, multi-year sponsorship gives Lowe’s the opportunity to work with the NFL throughout the year, including at key events such as the Super Bowl, NFL Draft, NFL Combine, NFL Kickoff and the NFL’s Salute to Service. This is a great opportunity for both the NFL and Lowe’s to raise their profile and awareness to fans and consumers. More specifically, it gives Lowe’s a competitive platform against rival Home Depot.

“We’re proud to have Lowe’s join as an Official NFL Sponsor in the home improvement retail category,” said Renie Anderson, senior vice president, NFL Partnerships, Sponsorship and Consumer Products. “We look forward to working with the team from Lowe’s and their network of more than 1,700 stores to connect with NFL fans in communities across the United States.”

“Many of us experience our biggest NFL moments at home with family and friends,” said Jocelyn Wong, chief marketing officer, Lowe’s. “As an official sponsor of the NFL, we will build upon the NFL’s growing popularity and fans’ live viewing habits at home to deepen relationships with customers. Our partnership with the NFL will be a great source of pride for our more than 300,000 associates, who look forward to being able to share in their passion with fans.”

Target Expands Baby PL Brand

Since launching Cloud Island in May 2017, Target is expanding the brand into essentials, including diapers, wipes, toiletries and feeding products complementing its nursery décor, bedding, bath and layette products.

Target is again demonstrating the importance of PL to its merchandise assortment and how it monitors a brand’s performance and leverages its popularity with additional product extensions.

“With all of Target’s new brands, we think about ways to expand upon the original idea,” says Mark Tritton, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, Target. “As we talked about Cloud Island, the essentials category was always there. The idea was around better-for-you, dependable, affordable and accessible products that are good for your baby and your family. Now, building on the success we’ve seen with the brand over the past year, we’re bringing that idea to life.”

The expansion of Cloud Island includes 30 baby-essential items with most under $10.

NBA Extends 2K partnership

The National Basketball Association announced a multiyear global extension of its partnership with 2K, publisher of the NBA 2K video game, and a subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive Software. The agreement, which also includes the National Basketball Players Association, will; build upon the success of the game, which has sold more than 86 million units worldwide over the past 17 years.

The NBA 2K franchise celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and the milestone will likely offer additional marketing opportunities and brand extensions.

“The NBA has been an outstanding partner throughout the history of the NBA 2K franchise, contributing significantly to its unparalleled success and the ability to grow its audience around the world across a myriad of platforms and offerings,” said Strauss Zelnick, Chairman and CEO of Take-Two. “We’re thrilled to be in business with Adam and the entire team at the NBA and enter into the longest-ever partnership extension between our organizations. Together, we’re confident that we will continue to find new and innovative ways to captivate and engage basketball fans and expand further the success of the NBA 2K brand.”

The company recently launched NBA 2K19 following record sales of with 10 million units sold for last year’s edition.

“An entire generation of basketball fans engage and connect with NBA teams and players through NBA 2K,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “We are grateful to extend our partnership with Take-Two and the NBPA to build on the enormous popularity of the NBA 2K franchise and the continued global growth of basketball.”

The partnership also includes NBA 2K Online and NBA 2K Online 2, NBA 2K Playgrounds 2, NBA 2K Mobile, and the NBA 2K League which launched in May 2018.

Panini Enters Esports Sector

Panini America has partnered with Complexity Gaming for its first venture in esports.

“By teaming up with one of the most reputable traditional sports brands, Complexity Gaming and Panini are furthering the intersection of esports and traditional sports through new product innovation and content,” said Daniel Herz, chief revenue officer and vice president, Complexity Gaming. “With the traditional sports world’s growing interest in video games and Panini’s roster of talented professional athletes and teams, this partnership creates more opportunity for integration across gaming, football, basketball, and more.”

This deal reflects the growing importance of esports as more and more companies develop content and licensing ventures to target new audiences.

As part of this partnership, Complexity and Panini will create content for both esports and traditional sports fans on a Panini Twitch channel that launched in mid-January.

“The esports audience shares similar demographics and interests as traditional trading card fans, so being able to engage those fans in new ways and where they are spending their time is important. It’s also a way to engage a younger audience and introduce them to our Panini trading card products,” said Jason Howarth, vice president of marketing, Panini America. “Partnering with Complexity, an organization that shares a similar vision to creating compelling content, reaching new audiences and leveraging the crossover appeal of gaming with traditional athletes is why we are really excited about this partnership.”

In addition to creating original content, Panini and Complexity will provide live fan engagement opportunities that include Complexity gamers signing custom cards, posters, and more during various events.

Date to Watch: Feb 1

While the court approved a deal with ESL Investments chairman Eddie Lampert to acquire 425 Sears stores and other assets for $5.2 billion, another hearing was scheduled to hear grievances about Lampert’s “misconduct” against the retailer over the years.

Stat of the Week: Fortnite

Epic Games’ Fortnite generated more digital revenue than any game in history reaching $2.4 billion last year, according to a report from Nielsen’s SuperData Research. The report also projected that the video game industry, which earned earned $119.6 billion in 2018, is forecast to hit $128.8 billion in 2019. Second to Fortnite was Dungeon Fighter Online from Nexon at $1.5 billion and No, 3 League of Legends from Riot Games, Tencent at $1.4 billion.

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