From fashion to tech: 12 powerhouses who are at the forefront of change


No matter how large, change often starts with small steps: like democratising a field that’s traditionally considered high culture, fighting for equal rights, promoting local textile industries, or even urging us to rethink how our cities are planned.

From fashion and technology, to the arts and social entrepreneurship, Neville Bhandara finds 12 powerhouses who are at the forefront of major shifts in their fields, and have used their talent and determination to become the role models we need.

Styling: Divya Gursahani

Illustrations: Priya Dali

Art direction: Mrudul Pathak Kundu and Vidhi Mirpuri

Smiley: The Total Lifestyle Brand & its Growth in India


The yellow smiley does not need an introduction. It is an icon in itself – one that has resonance across all categories of consumers. It has been built on the concept of self-expression – a universal language of communication. We call it “social currency” – as the entire world uses smiley to express themselves on social media. “Lol” has been replaced with  and “I am Angry” has been replaced with 

Smiley first came about in 1972 when a young journalist Franklyn Loufrani wanted to spread a little happiness in a time when bad news seemed to prevail. On New Year’s Day, French newspaper France Soir printed a Smiley logo next to all positive news stories. The idea became such a huge hit that people started buying the newspaper more, looking for the now iconic smiley, which would lead them to the ‘good news’. Before long, the promotion gained traction and an icon and brand was born.

When Franklin’s son, Nicolas Loufrani came on board 20 years ago, he looked at the logo – which he had been seeing his entire life – and realised that he wanted to bring in something different, something new. He started changing expressions; brought in different emotions which later became emoticons and the rest as they say is history.

The Smiley icon is one of the biggest phenomena in digital history !

For over 45 years, The Smiley Company has shaped the way we share happiness and express ourselves through iconic products found all over the world. From upscale capsule collaborations with iconic couture houses to limited edition products with the world’s leading hipster streetwear brands – Smiley brand collaborations continue to captivate reative directors, buyers and fashion press the world over. So, what makes Smiley apart from the rest of the market? It is the brands unique positioning at the epicentre of three major trends in society today: Happiness, emoticons and fun.

Today, The Smiley Company is present globally in almost 200 countries. It boasts of collaborating with some of the largest retail groups in the world and categories ranging from food, home décor, gifting, stationery, publishing and toys. The Smiley brand has a major licensing program which generated US $400 million in 2017. No wonder it’s one of the top 100 licensors globally and has won numerous awards including the Best Corporate Brand, Fashion & Lifestyle Program of the Year at the 2017 LIMA awards in Hong Kong.

Smiley & Dream Theatre

We at Dream Theatre were quick to realize the power of the brand and it’s potential in India. We also wanted to spread the brand message – happiness and fun to the Indian consumers. We worked together with Smiley – each one bringing in their own values, their own abilities and their own thinking to come up with a product that will be the best possible product for consumers. Smiley brings a smile to the faces of consumers at retail, and we at Dream Theatre are helping big brands reach their customers in exciting ways.

Growth & Partnerships in India

 Smiley launched its first apparel collection for women in India with ONLY (Bestseller). Such was the pull of the brand Smiley that the collection got sold in record time. There was no looking back after that. We successfully partnered with Krupa Industries, one of the largest BTS players in India to launch lunch boxes, pencil boxes, water bottles etc. for kids. Followed by Ultra, one of the largest soft toy manufacturers to launch Smiley plush & school bags. We also partnered with Simba, one of the largest kid’s bags manufacturers to launch a kids’ line. The positivity of Smiley’s brand appeals to both parents and children.

Available in-store and online, this trendy line has been created especially for children.

FMCG has been our strength in licensing and we successfully leveraged our relationship with Mondelez to launch a Smiley promotion – an on-pack and in-pack promotion for their popular candy brands Lickables and Gems. The campaign launched in September and offers Cadbury’s customers the chance to collect 16 mini Smiley toys including fidget spinners, phone stands, puzzles, mazes and stamps, as well as enjoying a selection of Cadbury’s products that feature a range of the iconic Smiley emoticons on their packaging. The promotion will be supported by TV advertising campaign and we will be replicating the promotion in additional territories, including Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. Working with Mondelez is not just building brand awareness; it’s allowing us to create integrated marketing experiences for both retail and online.

In India, Smiley is also present in Lifestyle department stores for many years now, where they cater to men, women and children. This range offers colours, and choice of the messages relevant to local consumers, providing buyers with the best of both worlds. Smiley is also present in Archies and our offerings include greeting cards which create the buzz among the young audiences – teenagers and young adults. They’re happy, fun and cool.

The above partnerships showcases yet another great story of how when you work with Smiley – you don’t just get trend led, best-selling collections, but also an incredibly positive marketing message to create meaningful and memorable customer experiences that consumers want to share. They are going to further spread our message of bringing happiness and positive values and spread smiles. Smiley increases purchase intent and improves on-shelf stand amongst consumers. As a result more brands are turning to Smiley in order to leverage not just our authentic position, but also our positive marketing message and directory of thousands of trademarked Smiley icons.

Trends may come and go, but the Smiley face is clearly here to stay. Its transition from being an emotion to being an Emoticon is truly phenomenal. Smiley has been setting trends and has always been at the forefront of popular culture. Now four decades later, Smiley has become more than just an icon, a brand and a lifestyle: it is now a spirit and a philosophy, reminding people just how powerful a sunny smile can be!

Jiggy George: Licence to dream


Jiggy George, founder of Dream Theatre, India’s first independent licensing representation agency, has worn a lot of different hats over the years. He’s been a fashion designer, music critic, advertising salesman and marketer before making the move into entrepreneurship. But it turns out the first job he ever wanted to do involved selling tickets on a crowded BEST bus.

“I was always interested in the idea of management, and I was just really impressed with someone who had so much control over the chaos of a Bombay bus,” says the 47-year-old, leaning back in his chair. It’s a late Monday evening and we’re meeting at his office in Santacruz West, Mumbai.

George laughs as he remembers his childhood ambitions. “It was this balance that I thought was so cool, making sure everyone was seated and also taking their money.”

Books line the wall opposite his desk, which also features a mural depicting many of his major influences, including The Beatles, Muhammad Ali and Shah Rukh Khan. Hanging on the wall behind him are two paintings by a friend which, he says, represent his personal journey towards becoming an entrepreneur (the paintings feature two important dates—when he quit and when DT officially started).

The son of a government prosecutor and a homemaker, George grew up in a traditional and regimented Malayali Christian household in Mumbai. Everyone in the family was either a doctor, engineer or a lawyer, and it was expected that George, who studied at St Stanislaus High School in Bandra, would follow a similar career path.

But he had other ideas. After completing his bachelor’s degree in sociology and economics at Mumbai’s Elphinstone College, George decided to see if his skills as a writer and an artist could translate into a creative career. In 1991, he applied for a position as a junior fashion designer at apparel brand Zodiac. “I didn’t have a degree in fashion, but I could draw fairly well,” he says. “So I went with a sketchbook full of drawings to this very serious interview about fashion design. I got the job, but it took me a few months to realize that was because they were just being nice.”

Fashion, it turned out, was not George’s calling. During his nine months at Zodiac, all he designed was men’s socks. He then joined The Times of India’s (TOI’s) ad sales team. But even here, convinced that he could do a better job than the writers on the media company’s payroll, he talked his way into being allowed to review books and music for TOI’s supplements, Metropolis On Saturday and the Independent.

In 1995, George enrolled for an MBA at the Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research, thinking it would allow him to leapfrog a few steps up the corporate ladder. The plan was to get a job in a media or entertainment company when he graduated, but there was one problem. No media company turned up for the campus placement event.

“So I found the phone number for the then managing director of MTV, Sunil Lalla, and called him up,” he says. “I said ‘Sunil, you don’t know me but if you meet me, you’ll hire me on the spot.’ He was in one of his indulgent moods so he called me to the office and patiently listened to my long monologue on what I thought they should be doing.”

A week later, George had an offer letter. At MTV India, he joined the consumer marketing department as marketing coordinator where he worked on the channel’s on-ground campaigns, including the MTV VJ Hunt in 1999 and an attempt to get into the Guinness Book Of World Records by hosting the longest ever dance party.

A couple of years in, the higher-ups asked him to look into setting up a merchandising and licensing vertical for MTV. George jumped at the opportunity. “I thought that this was a new business in a new industry, so I’d get to learn a lot of valuable stuff,” he says. “And MTV was a really aspirational brand at the time, so I thought it would be easier to bring them into the lifestyle of young people.”

His work for MTV, which included an MTV branded credit card with Citibank and an apparel licensing deal, caught the attention of Cartoon Network, which hired him in 2002. Here, he got a chance to play with some of the biggest characters in the world, including the Powerpuff Girls, Dexter, Johnny Bravo and the Hanna-Barbera roster. George and his team pioneered the idea of promotional licensing in the country and set up the consumer products programme for Cartoon Network in India in 2006. He was also involved in a short-lived project to set up Cartoon Network theme parks in India, as well as their joint venture with Sesame Street. “My sense of getting bored easily, coupled with the very entrepreneurial spirit at Turner at that time, allowed me the latitude to do a lot of different stuff,” he says. “And that really fuelled my entrepreneurial dreams again.”

George’s love affair with entrepreneurship dates back to Bon Jovi’s Mumbai concert in 1995, organized by his elder brother Joji. “One day, he decided that he was going to bring Bon Jovi down and I thought it was just a crazy idea,” remembers George. “But he managed to pull it off. It was amazing to see that gig come together and I remember thinking, ‘man, you can dream something big and make it happen’.”

In 2009, as he completed his seventh year at Turner, he realized that he was running out of time. His wife was pregnant, he was struggling with ennui and if he didn’t take the plunge now, he never would. So he quit. “I told my team first and they turned around and said, ‘we’re coming with you’,” he remembers. “It ended up being this Jerry Maguire moment, people just started putting in their papers.”

Five members of his team left with him, and together they started Dream Theatre out of a Bandra coffee shop in 2010. A couple of his former clients at Turner came with him, but the first year or so were still very rough. People he had worked with for years would suddenly not take his calls and prospective clients would not take them seriously because they couldn’t afford an office. “But there were also a whole bunch of people who were exceptionally supportive in this journey,” he says. “And I was really lucky that the guys who came with me are far more nimble than I was in moulding themselves into the entrepreneurship role.”

Today, Dream Theatre is a premier independent agency in a billion-dollar industry that is expected to grow at an exponential rate. They have partnered with everyone from Angry Birds, Candy Crush, Dreamworks, Fifa and Real Madrid. They also have a presence in the content licensing and syndication space, where they work with Disney, Turner and Viacom. Along the way, they also expanded into the merchandising business. But George says this is just the tip of the iceberg. “We have a vibrant entertainment economy and a large consuming class, what’s not happening is retail intersecting with licensing in the most meaningful way,” he says. “That will change as organized retail grows. The next 5-10 years are going to be really important.”

Earlier this year, George—along with Kwan entertainment—launched Mojostar, a new joint venture that aims to create new celebrity-led brands in white spaces. They have already launched fitness apparel brands with actors Jacqueline Fernandez and Tiger Shroff, and there’s a lot more in the works. “It’s a lot like the early days of Dream Theatre, but this time we started with seed money and a valuation as high as $10 million,” he says. “That’s a big validation of the concept we’re built around.”

When he’s not busy running two companies, George tries to balance his many other interests. Fitness and meditation are an integral part of his day, even though he claims to hate exercise. “I do it just for one reason,” he says. “I should be physically and mentally fitter than all the young guys coming into my office.”

He’s also an avid reader (“I read The English Patient again and again”) and a long-time music aficionado who plays the guitar. He says that if he didn’t enter the corporate world, he would probably have been a writer who played music on the side. Perhaps that’s why he spends his weekends pushing his nine-year-old daughter to learn how to read music and play the piano.

“I’m very Chinese dad about it,” he jokes. “I also want her to learn Indian classical music. (That and reading music) are the only two skills that I wish I had, possibly my only regret. I wonder what would have happened if I’d trained in music earlier in life,” he adds.



Trends In Brand Management


Angry birds

Top brand trends world over and in India saw a few patterns that will continue to be at play in 2018 as well. A quick note on a few key trends as we see it emerge and take center stage from the lens of licensing:

The growing influence of social media marketing allowing brands to connect directly and meaningfully with consumers and a trend within the ambit of social media marketing was the was of the rising importance of content – it wasn’t about pushing advertising, but creating content which was helpful to the audience. We are seeing massive numbers from India of fans engaging with brands in India, across age groups be it games like Angry Birds and Candy Crush, but also for entertainment brands. Candy Crush has seen 1.94 billion downloads for its games since its launch to December 2016 alone. Take Oggy and the Cockroaches for example, another brand has 3.14 million Facebook fans of which around 1 million fans are from India.

Celebrities became a more influential force in 2017 not just in delivering brand messages, but also in launching their own brands. Celebrity licensing and merchandising is a multi billion dollar industry in advanced markets, and we are seeing the emergence of the Indian celebrity, be it in Sports with Virat Kohli or with Bollywood with Sonam Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Jacqueline Fernandez, Tiger Shroff and others.

Licensing and Merchandising in India is also coming of age with the advent of Lifestyle, Sports, Fashion and Corporate brands. FIFA, Real Madrid, The Smiley Company, NBA are a few of the many international brands that have generated interest across the cross section of business, retail and consumers. The other trend in this space is the growth of the business coming from adult segments in apparel, apparel accessories, footwear.


Infact, Candy Crush saw a jewelry collaboration with top Jewellery designer, Mrinalini Chandra, launch out of India in November. It was the first of its kind collaboration for Candy Crush worldwide and a sign of a maturing market, which is now looking at new categories in lifestyle beyond just apparel.

Retail brands are also seeing a distinct shift and growing interest in their private brands and are exploring licensing tie-ups across entertainment, lifestyle and sports brands under their private labels. This is happening across both online and offline retail and is a business that will continue to grow.

The VOD space is another emerging market in India were brands are in the big race to establish themselves as Numero Uno. Hotstar, Jio TV, VOOT, Amazon Prime are some of the top players. Sports, News, GEC, Kids are the core content components. While international content is big, it’s the regional content that is a game changer, propelling players to focus on not just international titles and series, but also local available content and the commissioning of Indian IPs and rising India brands in the content space.

The writer is founder & CEO, Dream Theatre Private Limited

Xilam eyes big business in India


French animation giant Xilam and the makers of popular series – Oggy and the Cockroaches – has big plans for India, it’s fourth largest market, after securing a raft of sales in the region across kids’ catalogue.

Europe’s one of the biggest animation company says it continues to make its mark in India with shows been sold to Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, Sony and local Indian video-on-demand (VOD) platforms including Amazon India, Alt Digital and Hungama.

Xilam is widely identified as having creativity and expertise in the field of physical comedy and slapstick humour.

According to Marc du Pontavice, Xilam’s founder and CEO, 2018 will be an important year for Xilam as it is moving into preschool with Paprika – its first property in the field. “We hope this launch will accelerate the growth of Xilam’s merchandising revenues. We are also planning to launch the first Oggy products in India, which we anticipate will please millions of fans,” he adds.

It has selected its key property – Oggy and the Cockroaches – as flagship brand to establish a 360 approach in India. The series has strong brand awareness among kids and parents, says Marie – Laure Marchand, senior vice president of Xilam’s Global Consumer Products and Media Distribution.

“We released Oggy season 5 (Oggy through the Ages) last August on Cartoon Network and have worked with them closely to prepare this launch with several mall activations, social media campaigns and an extensive school programme. We are seeing a massive support on social media with more than 1.3 million Facebook fans coming out of India alone,” she exclaims.

To expand its brand experience in India, Dream Theatre has been roped in as the licensing agent. They represent Oggy and are now in discussions with several partners for Back to School, bags, publishing and accessories and collectibles.

“We already have Play Planet on board which will be releasing the first Oggy plush next week just in time for Christmas, as well as Woodstock which has developed a very fun line of t-shirts sold online,” she adds.

In 2018 Xilam plans to celebrate Oggy’s 20th Anniversary – an important year for the brand.

Subscription video-on-demand or SVOD platforms are a strong accelerator in supporting Xilam’s growth, says Pontavice. “We already work with Amazon Prime India and Netflix and are looking at new business opportunities,” he adds.

YouTube, in three years, has become an important component attributing to the revenues, Pontavice explains. “Although it’s only generating revenues for the library titles as premium, and is usually reserved for TV or SVOD, it accounts for a good third of our digital revenues. This is a precious tool through which we create a direct connection with our fans, allowing us to leverage cross promotional opportunities for merchandising and communication purposes,” he argues.

Until recently the animation industry was heavily dominated by the US and Japan, and to a lesser extent by France, Canada and the UK. In the future, this market will become more of a multilateral one, with much content being offered by emerging markets like India, China and Brazil, he forecasts. “These territories are demonstrating there is a lot to learn and master with expertise in premium animation content,” he adds.

It cannot be denied that Asia is fast emerging as Xilam’s key business model, even stronger than the US.

“We have managed to establish very strong brands, including Oggy and the Cockroaches, Zig and Sharko, throughout the continent, and have successfully sold almost all our catalogue to TV. However, we have only touched the surface so far and we believe we still have important growth ahead of us, especially with the development of digital,” Pontavice feels.

Ahead of its premiere next year, Xilam has already signed a presale for its brand new animated series Mr Magoo. As per plans, in 2018, Cartoon Network Asia will air the 78 x 7-minute series in Southeast Asia, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Australia, India, India subcontinent, and New Zealand.

Cartoon Network Asia has taken seasons 6 and 7 of Oggy and the Cockroaches. The series is distributed in more than 160 countries around the world and is watched in 600 million homes.

Chinese distributor Jetsen Huashi Wangju Kids has picked up the digital rights to season one of Xilam’s Zig and Sharko. The series is slated to be released in China across VOD platforms in 2018.

On being asked if Xilam foresees consolidation in the market in the days to come, he argues animation is driven by creativity. No giant will change that, especially as content is now in the stronger side of the business. “Anyone has the ability to distribute, however very few can create.”

Dream Theatre liaises launch of Candy Crush jewellery, Esha Gupta, Roshan Abbas, Kubbra Sait attend launch


Esha Gupta, Sayani Gupta, Sapna Pabbi, Kritika Kamra, Additi Gupta, Shaheen Abbas, Roshan Abbas, Kubra Sait attended the Candy Crush Jewellery Launch, hosted by Mrinalini Chandra and Dream Theatre at Olive, Bandra.

King Digital Entertainment, a leading interactive entertainment company for the mobile world, continues to expand its Candy Crush consumer products offering, with a new range of jewelry by leading Indian designer Mrinalini Chandra. Fans and candy-lovers around the world will be able to get their hands on a range of necklaces, bracelets, earrings, brooches and rings inspired by the deliciously sweet world of Candy Crush. The deal was facilitated and is being managed by Dream Theatre, King’s licensing agent in India and South Asia.

“We’re delighted to be able to offer an array of Candy Crush inspired jewellery to long-time fans of the game,” said Philippe Bost, VP International Consumer Products, Activision Blizzard. “Our colourful designs are really brought to life by this striking jewellery range and the Kaleera series will add extra sweetness to any bride’s special day.’’

Commenting on the range, jewelry designer Mrinalini Chandra said: “We are very excited about our collaboration with Candy Crush.  Our jewelry will comprise of hand crafted pieces inspired by the game with a quirky but chic aesthetic that is emblematic of our label. It will incorporate traditional craft techniques of Meenakari and Jaali from India infused with modern design aesthetics. Launching in the festive season, the range has something to offer every candy-lover.”

Founder and CEO of licensing company, Dream Theatre Pvt. Ltd, Jiggy George said “We are thrilled to have facilitated this partnership between Candy Crush and Mrinalini Chandra. The collection is stunning, making it ideal for Candy Crush fans and fashionistas alike.”

The collection is launching on 29th November 2017, just in time for the Christmas season, and will be available on and leading ecommerce sites. The collection comprises of Necklace, Choker necklace, Ring, Cuff bracelet, Earrings, Charm necklace, Charm bracelet, Brooch pin in couture range and Y necklace, Two finger ring, Single finger ring, Lariet necklace, Candy Unit brooch, Earring, Hoop earring, Open bangle, Bracelet in mass range.

Candy Crush Saga is one of the world’s most popular mobile games in the world and along with its sister titles, Candy Crush Soda Saga and Candy Crush Jelly Saga, is played by many millions of people every day. Candy Crush Saga and its sister title, Candy Crush Soda Saga, are two of the top 10 grossing mobile games in the U.S. Over one trillion game rounds have been played in Candy Crush Saga alone since its launch.

King continues to grow its consumer products offering across the globe supported by its global network of 19 licensing agents. King has signed 145 licensees to date.

Fatak Patak addressing the dearth of integrated toyline for kids


An ardent admirer of GI Joe and He Man as a child, Suhas Sundar, CEO of Indo-Japanese IP company Nihodo Media is the brains behind the brand animated movie series called Fatak Patak. SUndar believes that Indian kids have been grossly overlooked and targeted toylines for them are almost an afterthought.

And this is the gap Sundar aims to fill with the integrated toyline of Fatak Patak thereby making it one of the first kids franchise to use toys and gameplay as integral to content in India.

In a candid conversation with License India, Sundar spoke about the integrated toy line which is one of its kind for Indian market. He also emphasized on the trend of indianized content that is creating ripples in the industry.

– Talk to us about the IP Fatak Patak and the integrated toyline.
It primarily started with us wanting to work on our next TV show. We have done two animated movies with Cartoon Network. We were exploring what to do as our next IP and we didn’t want to go down the same path of what we have done earlier or what was on air at that point of time. There is lot of great content of Indian origin; in fact most of the top ranking shows are Indian.

We wanted to do something different while following what has been done around the world in terms of the toy line integrated with an animated series or an IP and that was the starting point. We started conceiving the toy line concurrently with the production of the series.

This may be something new for the Indian market, but it has been done all around the world. Every time they think of kids’ IP, they think of complete 360 degree experience where the kids play with the toys, watch the show, play games on tablets, consoles etc. that is how we approached this entire IP.

– Is Indianized content the new trend of licensing industry?
It we look at it, yes that seems to be the trend. If you look at path breakers like Green Gold; what they did with Chhota Bheem was totally unprecedented. Before they did; there was no Indian IP that was licensed and merchandise was rolled at such a vast level. Of course now there are likes of Motu Patlu proliferating in the market. Definitely I do believe that Indian audiences will have much deeper connection to an Indian concept.

– So has global content lost its demand in India?
It is not that global contents do not work in here; Doraemon is still one of the most undisputed leaders in kids’ entertainment in terms of an IP, but Indian content will always have a connect with audiences for sure.

However if you look at the toy line available in the market, everything is based on foreign IPs. Of course you will find a Chhota Bheem IP in the market; but nobody has created a toy line specifically starting from the Indian market which is integrated with the animated series like Beyblade or Pokemon in Japan.

In scenario where the kids are aware of what is available globally, we felt that we should create something specifically for them, which we can then take around the world.

– How are you going about the marketing of the IP?
Initially we are doing a movie series with Hungama channel and Dream Theatre along with their subsidiary Play Planet are doing the marketing and distribution of toys. We will amp up promotions and marketing around festivals. We will take a contest to what is happening in the market and then decide the next course of action with movies, toy line. And once this looks like a series, then we will look at exploring a full licensing program. We already have a card game developed and ready which we might be releasing as next product in market.

– How would you define the target audience for this IP?
We are looking at 5 to 10 years old kids. Boys will generally gravitate towards this toy line but that doesn’t mean that girls wouldn’t like it. I would say that anyone who has grown up playing with Beyblade or Pokemon, would find all that amalgamated in this toy line.

One can connect these characters, battle with them in real time. They actually do battle with each other when you shoot them towards each other. Then there are collectible cards and arena that comes with them, so that one has immersive game play experience along with the whole collectability factor.

The toy line has been done by Play Planet that is a subsidiary of Dream Theatre. The toys are manufactured in China and imported by us.

– When already a plethora of Indian characters are addressing to this TG, where do you see Fatak Patak fitting in?
The space that we have ended up occupying is default space by virtue of IP and there isn’t too much competition. There is no IP that has got such an integrated toy line. Motu Patlu is out and out comedy show and similar is Chhota Bheem. Ours is a comedy action show about kids battling against each other and villains using aliens.

The closest fit to our show is Pokemon and Ben 10. We started using collectability factor where character transforms into multiple aliens. The category that Fatak Patak occupies is the one where none of the top 10 shows are in India especially the home grown ones. And none of them have that integrated toy capability.

You can’t do a collectible toy action series with the likes of Motu Patlu or Oggy & the cockroaches. Our positioning might be more niche and we are speciaficaly targeting the kids who watch action comedy and love to play with such toys.

– How many retail touch points are you present at?
The products have been live on Amazon since September 2017. The toys are priced at INR 650 and come with an arena, collectible card and a shooter. We have tried to offer most of the things in one single pack. We are present across almost a thousand retail touch points pan India. Also we are available at a lot of modern retail outlets like Shoppers Stop, Big Bazaar, and we will be available with ToysRUs as well when they launch in India.

New kids franchise ‘Fatak Patak’ launches in India with animated TV series, merchandise


MUMBAI: In line with global kids franchises like Pokemon, which uses toys as integral part of the story telling, India now has its very own franchise ‘Fatak Patak’, owned by Nihodo Media, an Indo-Japanese IP company.

The franchise has been developed to provide children with a complete experience of the animated characters on television along with the opportunity to own and play with the toys.

While the four-part animated TV series will be aired on Disney-owned kids channel, Hungama, Dream Theatre will be managing the licensing and merchandising for this franchise. Toys are distributed by subsidiary company – Play Planet.

Suhas Sundar, CEO, Nihodo Media, said, “A key desire and motivation behind this movie and toyline has been to provide Indian Kids with their own indigenous IP. Though there have been a slew of great content and innovation in Kid’s entertainment in the past few years, with the exception of a handful, most of the toys that dominate retail shelves are based on foreign IPs and toylines. In this regard, Indian kids have been grossly overlooked and targeted toylines for Indian children are almost an afterthought.”

Sundar added that his company wanted to change the status quo and give Indian kids their own world.

“It is very exciting that the series will be launched simultaneously with the toys as it will give kids the opportunity to have a complete experience of the characters and the storyline. We hope the kids enjoy both the TV feature series as well as the toys being launched,” added Abhishek Maheshwari, VP & Head, Media Networks and Interactive, Disney India.

Jiggy George, Founder & CEO of Dream Theatre, said, “Fatak Patak could very well go on to become India’s answer to iconic brands like Beyblade or Pokemon! With high quality content to engage fans on TV and character led toys to engage them off-air, this property could set the trend for kids entertainment in our country!”

‘Fatak Patak’ is a four-part animated TV Feature series about mysterious Alienoids with incredible powers from outer space competing in the Alienoid Wrestling League. The main protagonists, Sher Singh and his Alienoid Gabru will be seen in pursuit of the championship and their adventures along the way in the Fatak Patak World.

The story is set in India with indigenous story lines and localised content that the target audience can relate to. The Alienoids appearing on the show will also be available as collectibles with pro-wrestling inspired features and elements of strategy for the kids to engage in gameplay.

Licensing is the way for strategic expansion: ChuChu TV


ChuChu TV, Asia-Pacific’s most watched YouTube channel for toddlers from India, has launched the global Consumer Products business for the brand. Boasting over 6 billion views and 10 million subscribers, ChuChu TV is confident of licensing being an effective strategy, states Vinoth Chandar, Co-Founder, CEO & Creative Director of the brand.

  1. Talk to us about the brand ChuChu TV.
    ChuChu TV was born purely out of passion. It was started when I wanted to make my daughter Harshitha laugh. I thought of creating a video and naming it ChuChu which is what she is fondly called at home. I did the rhyme Chubby Cheeks that starred a small girl who looked like my daughter.

I then put it up on YouTube and I was surprised it got around 3 lakh views within weeks. I later uploaded the second video Twinkle Twinkle Little Star which got even more popular and we had around 5,000 subscribers with just two videos. This was when I decided to venture into this domain and create more pre-school content. Understanding the potential, I took this ahead with my partners. This led to the birth of ChuChu TV Studios. Today ChuChu TV has grown to become a kids brand that uses the power of positive messaging, music and learning to connect with infants, toddlers and parents around the world.

  1. What made you think about licensing as an extension tool? 
    I have always believed that licensing is an effective strategy for ChuChu TV as strategically it is a good direction for us from growth perspective. In fact within few months of the launch of our YouTube channel, we did some sample toys of our characters so see how they look. We then posted it in our facebook page and got a huge reception from our fans.

We have seen that there are many digital properties that have ventured into this domain. Given the admiration that we have seen in our content, the recognition that our characters have received and that kids love our content and parents trust our content, we feel licensing is the way. Our characters ChuChu, ChaCha, Chiku, and Chika have been in all our videos right from the inception.

We also have added many new characters to our brand namely Mr.Harlo, The Unicorn Elephant, Cutians the Kittens, ChuChu TV Police, Mr.Eggsie, Wanny & Spanny from ChuChu TV Funzone. We regularly get emails asking us to provide them with our merchandise. We then met with Jiggy George, Founder & CEO of Dream Theatre, and we started our licensing program with them who are currently helping evolve the licensing strategy and find mutually beneficial partnerships. With us being an international brand, having a global presence through merchandising will be an added advantage.

  1. What are the immediate categories that you are looking for an extension?
    We are looking to focus on toys, gaming, publishing, and apparel as our core categories. We aim to launch it in 2018.
  2. What will be the point of sale and price points?
    It’s too early to speculate on this, but we would want to reach out to masses and classes – so it will be aggressively priced.
  3. According to you why should a retailer become a license for Chu Chu TV? 
    Our performance speaks for itself. We are a ‘made in India’ and distributed around the world brand. Our fans are eager to engage with us on different platforms and we will work selectively with like-minded partners who share the vision and passion!
  4. What are the parameters for an ideal licensee?
    Strong consumer focus, proven track record, ambition with the calibrated approach are what matter to us while choosing a licensee. We have poured our heart and soul into ChuChu TV – we expect the same commitment from our partners.
  5. What is your take on licensing of YouTube-centric IPs? 
    Youtube is a great platform for artists and content creators to showcase their talent and products. With over 1 billion daily Unique Users – it’s extremely impactful. Many brands have been built on the back of this popularity including ChuChu TV. As long as you’re delivering beyond the customer expectations, the sky’s the limit.
  6. What potential do they hold in India where internet penetration is yet to increase?
    India has over 250 million broadband users and while it’s growing aggressively there is significant headroom. We are very excited about the growth opportunities in India and overseas in markets where broadband penetration is a lot more pervasive. Our #1 market continues to be the US.


KWAN, Dream Theatre to partner with celebrities to co-create brands


MUMBAI: In what could potentially be the big daddy of the retail and entertainment business market in India, celebrity management firm KWAN Entertainment and brand management and licensing agency Dream Theatre have come together to create Mojostar -a celebrity-driven house of brands.

Mojostar will focus on partnering with celebrities, in the world of entertainment and sports, to co-create authentic, retail brands in the areas of fashion, fitness and personal care.

“Agencies typically sign deals, the likes of HRX by Hrithik Roshan, All About You by Deepika Padukone but this (initiative) is not about an agency doing deals. We are going to invest in this business and manufacture our own products,“ Anirban Das Blah, managing partner of Mojostar and founder of KWAN Entertainment, told ET.

KWAN Entertainment, Dream Theatre, Blah and Jiggy George, founder of Dream Theatre, have invested in the new business with the two taking up the roles of managing partners. Blah declined to share details on the holding structure of the company, adding, however, that the duo had earmarked an investment of $30-40 million over the next 2-3 years into Mojostar.

“We will invest in product development, design, manufacturing, marketing and Mojostar as a standalone independent business will build out brands in these areas. In the next 5-7 years, we are looking to build at least 4-5 brands worth $100 million,“ said Blah.

Mojostar has roped in the former head of fashion brands at Myntra, Abhishek Verma, as its chief executive officer and has also signed deals with three artists to launch brands starting 2018. Film actors Jacqueline Fernandez and Tiger Shroff are among the first to be signed and will work with Mojostar to develop a product range in the areas of fitness and fashion.

As a business model, Mojostar will bring on board each celebrity as a partner in the business for each product they create. “Celebrities will have equity ownership in the business as they come on board. Each brand will be in partnership with a celebrity and they will own an equity stake at a brand level,” said George, declining to share details on the equity ownership structure.

Through Mojostar, Blah and George are looking to create a house of celebrity-led retail brands akin to international labels such as those by Kate Hudson, David Beckham and Jay-Z. Mojostar is looking to develop 5-6 brands by 2019 with the first three launching as early as next year.

“I don’t think it’s an unrealistic goal if we are funding them independently. If we are not doing revenues worth $500 million in 10 years from now, I would be disappointed,” said Blah, outlining his outlook for the new business.