The Las Vegas Licensing Expo 2022, the world’s largest licensing trade show, returned as an in-person event this year, held May 24-26 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.
The event reconnected the global licensing industry and major intellectual property (IP) owners, toy companies and apparel companies that distribute to retailers.
Conference participants included Amazon.com Inc. AMZN Studios, Netflix Inc. NFLX, Coca-Cola Co. KO, Mattel MAT, Hasbro HAS, Warner Bros WBD, MGM Studios and Genius Brands International Inc. GNUS as well as Grom Social Enterprises Inc.'s GROM Curiosity Ink Media.
Curiosity Ink Media, a growing pipeline for original IP development and content creation, recently announced that it will fully launch its new ecommerce holiday destination, Santa.com this fall. Santa.com is an online digital hub where kids and adults can shop and experience the holiday season in a one-stop, modern update of the classic department store.
CEO Jared Wolfson recently talked to Benzinga about his experience returning to the Licensing Expo and upcoming developments within Curiosity Ink Media.
Benzinga: You recently announced you’ll launch the Santa.com site this holiday season. What are your goals for the platform?
Wolfson: We’re building an extensive, immersive online holiday experience for both kids and adults.
The Santa.com site is being designed to bring the fun and excitement of Christmas to users of all ages - one section will be geared for kids and the other for grown-ups. Kids will be able to build their wish lists to send to Santa, play games, and engage in the world of the North Pole. Adults will be able to find ideas and solutions for entertaining, decorating and gift-giving, and will be able to purchase those gifts with just a few clicks. We know that planning for the holidays can be a daunting task, so our mission is, simply, to make the holidays more simple for those who want to provide their family and friends with wonderful experiences and lasting memories.
Parents are trying to give their families and their friends the best holiday experience ever, and our goal is to help make that easier for them. We will be providing a highly curated, detailed and organized destination for people to come in and get great ideas for all their holiday planning needs. All these things are hard for time-strapped parents to do during the holidays because they have to go to 75 different places to do it. With Santa.com, they can come to one destination for it all. Our goal is to help remove the stress, and give the best gift of all… more time.
As for the expanded Santa.com IP, there are multiple titles in our publishing program as well as a Santa.com family feature film in development. The books and movie serve as a modern reimagining of the classic North Pole stories we’ve all grown up on and continue to enjoy, exploring the question, what if Santa modernized his operations? A richly woven tapestry of adventure, heart and holiday magic establishes a reason for family members of all ages to enjoy the Santa.com universe.
Benzinga: Talk about your company’s new creative partnership with Cepia and the Cats vs Pickles line of toys.
Wolfson: We’ve forged a licensing relationship with Cepia LLC, which is a toy company out of St. Louis, Missouri. They have created and are continuing to build a highly successful collectable plush toy brand called Cats vs Pickles, which has established tremendous global appeal among fans. The licensing partnership builds on a relationship we established with Cepia last year, to develop an animated series based on the property, as well as build out a robust publishing program. We will be releasing our first book title this fall, with additional titles in 2023. Our relationship with Cepia has recently expanded into a licensing agent representation that we showcased at the Licensing Expo and are now actively in the process of procuring licensing partnerships in key categories.
Because Cats vs Pickles has this great upward trajectory, retailers are looking to support the brand in a bigger way.
Benzinga: It sounds like you're taking a successful toy brand and creating media on top of that to support and then amplify the toy brand.
Wolfson: There's a need to expand the franchise. The property has a highly engaged fan base and there’s already content out there connecting on various social platforms.
Cepia has done a good job building different types of content and have programmed it out on YouTube to see what resonates best with their audiences. We plan to build out a more robust series that will procure the right placement, whether that's broadcast or streaming or a combination of both. The goal is to increase the desire for the Cats vs Pickles fan base to invest more deeply into the brand with various categories of great licensed product, while at the same time expanding the property’s reach with an audience who may not yet know about the brand.
Benzinga: Was Cats vs Pickles your main focus at the Expo?
Wolfson: I'd say 60% to 70% of our time was spent meeting with different licensees and talking about Cats vs Pickles. And then the other 30% to 40% of the time, we spent talking about the company and the projects we have in development. We had some preliminary meetings with toy companies about our work, including a highly commercial preschool property called Baldwin’s Big Adventure.
It was a perfect opportunity to have early conversations with toy partners willing to come in early and put their fingerprints on the property.
For more information on Curiosity Ink Media, visit www.curiosityinkmedia.com.
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Feature photo provided by Curiosity Ink
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