Target Takes to the Vineyards; Mattel Partners for another movie; Toy Licensee plans showcase Store; Martha Stewart to develop CBD products; Walmart adds baby brand, plus, other top brand 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 for the retailers, licensors and brands.

Target Heads to the Vineyards

Target is launching several new brands this month featuring lifestyle apparel, value priced wines, and sleepwear and intimates.

As Target adds three new brands to its merchandise collection, the move reinforces the retailer’s strategy to enhance and expand its collabs and private label offerings. These moves further enable Target to make strong brand statements, better control sourcing, inventory, and pricing and boost margins. And the result is less space and fewer partnerships with licensed brands.

With a longstanding history in major brand collaborations, Target’s latest partnership is with vineyard vines, the popular apparel brand founded in 1998. With its pink whale logo, the brand is inspired by summer lifestyle on Martha’s Vineyard. The new collab is expected to launch on May 18.

‘The limited-edition collection includes more than 300 items including home and outdoor goods, pets, apparel, accessories and swim for the entire family. The tableware and games products represent the first brand extensions for vineyard vines into those categories. “Vineyard vines is a brand that our guests know and love, and one that exemplifies our shared sense of optimism and joy through their use of bold colors and prints,” said Mark Tritton, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, Target. “We worked closely with the vineyard vines team to create a collection of well-designed, affordable items that are meant to bring people together, whether it’s for a shared meal with friends or a family trip to the beach. Launching just as summer kicks off, this is the perfect collection to help our guests create lasting memories with family and friends, all season long.”

“Our partnership with Target allows us to share our brand with more people than ever before,” said Ian Murray, CEO and co-founder of vineyard vines. Shep Murray, CEO and co-founder of vineyard vines, added, “We are excited to collaborate with Target, a brand that shares many of our same values including fun, optimism and innovation. We look forward to testing out new product categories and ultimately spreading our message of ‘Every day should feel this good’ in a new and fun way.”

Target is also launching a new assortment of premium California wines on March 3. Called The Collection, the line includes five varietals—cabernet sauvignon, red wine blend, rose, pinot grigio and chardonnay, all priced at $9.99—sourced from the Delicato Family Vineyards, based in Napa Valley, Ca.

In addition, Target is introducing three new PL brands—Auden, Stars Above and Colsie. “Within intimates and sleepwear, we know our guests want to look and feel their very best, and we see potential for Target to offer both current and new guests so much more,” said Jill Sando, senior vice president, general merchandise manager, apparel and accessories and home. “From new brands and experiences, to a campaign that celebrates that women come in all different shapes and sizes, we want to create the ultimate destination for our guests—one that’s inviting and ins inspiring and allows all women to feel comfortable and confident.”

Mattel Plans Another Film with MGM 

With much criticism about its lack of strategic content initiatives that leverage its portfolio of well-known brands, Mattel has announced its fourth movie in two months.

Mattel and MGM will develop a live-action film based on View-Master, the 3-D toy line which was introduced in 1939 at New York World’s Fair.

Mattel has demonstrated finally the ability to move fast and develop its content, which ultimately benefit its overall consumer products business. While its content initiatives will take a few years to unfold and evaluate, it’s a much-anticipated and much-needed strategy to reinvent the company and reposition it for the next decade. And its all happening under the helm of Ynon Kreiz, the former CEO of Disney’s Maker Studios, who took over as CEO last April.

Mattel Films and MGM will co-produce the film and Robbie Brenner, Mattel’s head of film and Cassidy Lange, MGM’s co-president of production will oversee production.

“Since the 1940’s, View-Master has inspired wonder and joy in children of all ages, creating huge opportunities for storytelling,” said Brenner. “MGM Pictures has tremendous expertise and a proven track record in capturing audiences’ imagination through film, and we’re proud to be partnering with them to bring another Mattel franchise to theaters. This marks another important milestone as we transform Mattel into an IP-driven, high-performing toy company.”

“View-Master was the first device that allowed families all over the world to escape their reality and take them places they never thought they could go. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Mattel to create a family adventure integrating the old school turn and click stereotypic device with the modern world of virtual reality,” said Jonathan Glickman, MGM’s president, Motion Picture Group.

Funko to Expand Retail Presence

Pop culture licensee Funko plans to open a second retail store in Los Angeles by year-end.

With the loss of Toys ‘R’ Us, more toy companies––and licensees in other product sectors as well–are developing various strategies to sell products directly to consumers. For Funko, it’s a smart move to showcase its licensed products especially in such a popular tourist and entertainment driven location.

The 40,000 square foot store will be located on Hollywood Boulevard in East Hollywood.

“It was a no-brainer to open our second retail location in the television and film mecca of the world—Hollywood,” said Brian Mariotti, chief executive officer at Funko. “We couldn’t be more excited to have a presence among the most influential production studios and creative talent delivering pop culture content.”

Funko’s first retail location opened in 2017 at the company headquarters in Everett, Washington. Funko continues on a strong growth path reporting net sales increased 33% to $686.1 million in 2018.

Walmart Adds Baby Brand

Walmart has added another baby brand called Hello Bello. And it reflects the world’s largest retailer’s commitment to new brands that offer value pricing and more acceptable ingredients for today’s consumers.

Prents Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, along with Sean Kane (co-CEO), Jay McGraw (co-CEO) and Jennifer Pullen (CFO & COO), founded this new collection of plant-derived baby necessities.

“As a mom of two, I know how beautifully messy parenthood can be, and that’s why we created Hello Bello – a line of premium, super-effective baby care products to take care of your kids from head-to-butt-to-toe,” said co-founder Kristen Bell. “Our products are fresh and fun. More importantly, we use plant-based ingredients and organic botanicals that are better for our kids and better for our world.”

Hello Bello features 10 products including: diapers, wipes, shampoo & body wash, bubble bath, baby lotion, diaper rash cream, hand sanitizer, mineral sunscreen, bug spray and laundry detergent.

“We want to be a destination for parents to get everything they need for baby. Hello Bello is a fantastic addition to our assortment, enabling us to offer a fun, exclusive and affordable option for parents who prefer products made with organic and plant-based ingredients,” said- Melody Richard, vice president of baby at Walmart.

Champs Partners for Rugrats Collab

Retro iconic ‘90s brand, Rugrats, which Nickelodeon relaunched on TV last year, continues to demonstrate strong consumer interest at retail.

Champs Sports has teamed up with Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products and FILA for an exclusive Rugrats-themed line of footwear and apparel.

With nearly 550 stores and a core customer base that hits the millennial sweet spot, this collab should easily be a win-win for Champs, FILA, Nickelodeon, and of course, the Rugrats franchise. While collaborations like this one require enormous productivity, time and coordination to execute, they deliver results in all areas from marketing to brand awareness to incremental sales.

“At Champs Sports we are constantly looking for new ways to tap into youth culture, through disruptive and innovative concepts,” said Jason Brown, vice president of marketing, Champs Sports. “With this exclusive FILA x Rugrats Collection, we are not only allowing devoted fans to celebrate one of the all-time greatest cartoons, but we’re collaborating with FILA, a brand that has had one of the greatest resurgences of late in fashion. Champs Sports and our partners at FILA and Nickelodeon are excited to bring these well-known characters to life for a new generation, ahead of their big-screen premiere.”

The collection includes three special-edition sneaker styles for men and kids and an apparel collection featuring eight men’s styles, created in white, navy and red to tie back to the footwear.

“When Rugrats launched in 1991 the series was an instant hit with audiences and became a groundbreaking phenomenon, spawning consumer products and blockbuster films,” said Jose Castro, Senior Vice President, Global Collaborations and Softlines, Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products. “Today, fans still have a connection to these characters and seeing Tommy, Chuckie and Angelica on FILA’s classic designs will be a treat for those who grew up with the series.”

Martha Stewart Partners with Cannabis Company

Canopy Growth Corporation and Sequential Brands Group announced that Martha Stewart will assume an advisory role with Canopy to assist with developing and positioning a new line of products across multiple categories.

This is a brilliant move by the lifestyle guru who has found multiple ways to remain relevant among consumers as her core audience has matured. Tapping into the cannabis market as it continues to be legalized in more states gives Stewart a new opportunity that has huge growth potential. She joins other celebs and execs, including Kathy Ireland, in signing a CBD deal.

“I am delighted to establish this partnership with Canopy Growth and share with them the knowledge I have gained after years of experience in the subject of living,” said Martha Stewart. “I’m especially looking forward to our first collaboration together, which will offer sensible products for people’s beloved pets.”

“As soon as you hear the name Martha, you know exactly who we’re talking about,” shared Canopy Growth Chairman and co-CEO, Bruce Linton. “Martha is one of a kind and I am so excited to be able to work alongside this icon to sharpen our CBD product offerings across categories from human to animal.”

Gap and Old Navy To Become Separate Companies

Gap will create two independent publicly traded companies: Old Navy, and a yet-to-be-named company, which will consist of Gap, Athleta, Banana Republic, Intermix and Hill City.

With little synergy among its brands, the driving factor is that two separate companies are better than one in terms of pursing growth and other operational efficiencies. For licensors and licensees, the focus should be on how to leverage Old Navy and its merchandising strategy, diverse customer base, and possible expansion into new product categories. Licensed brands could be a strong opportunity for Old Navy to differentiate and compete with mass retailers.

“Following a comprehensive review by the Gap Inc. Board of Directors, it’s clear that Old Navy’s business model and customers have increasingly diverged from our specialty brands over time, and each company now requires a different strategy to thrive moving forward,” said Robert Fisher, Gap Inc.’s board chairman. “Recognizing that, we determined that pursuing a separation is the most compelling path forward for our brands – creating two separate companies with distinct financial profiles, tailored operating priorities and unique capital allocation strategies, both well positioned to achieve their strategic goals and create significant value for our customers, employees and

With $8 billion in annual revenue, Old Navy will be better positioned “to capitalize on its scale, broad customer awareness and unique positioning to extend its category leadership and deliver profitable growth as an independent company.”

Sonia Syngal, current president and chief executive officer of Old Navy, will continue to lead the brand as a standalone company.

Hasbro Receives Top Honor 

For the eighth year consecutive year, Hasbro has been recognized by the Ethisphere Institute as one of the 2019 World’s Most Ethical Companies.

“At Hasbro, we take pride in doing the right thing, simply because it’s the right thing to do,” said Brian Goldner, Chairman and CEO, Hasbro, Inc. “We are honored to once again be recognized as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies, and believe it speaks to our unwavering commitment to conducting our business responsibly and acting with integrity.”

The full list can be found here.

More Store Closings: The Latest Update

JCPenney – 18 stores
Victoria’s Secret – 53 stores
Gap – 230 stores
Macy’s – 8 stores
Shopko – 250 stores
Gymboree – 900 stores
Payless – 2,000 stores

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