Screenwriter Meg LeFauve, Music composer Vidjay Beerepoot, Licensing and Merchandising expert Jigy George, Advertising veteran Rahul daCunha & Writer, director & creative producer Vani Saraswathi Balgam are the five ‘masters’ for the Animation Masters Summit 2021 edition organised by Toonz Media Group
Masters of animation industry will share their thoughts and speak their mind out at the 2021 edition of Animation Masters Summit.
Screenwriter Meg LeFauve, Music composer Vidjay Beerepoot, Licensing and Merchandising expert Jigy George, Advertising veteran Rahul daCunha and Writer, director and creative producer Vani Saraswathi Balgam are the five ‘masters’ for the 2021 edition.
Oscar nominated, Annie Award-winning screenplay writer Meg LeFauve holds the writing credits for some of the most popular animation features of our times. Marvel’s blockbuster Captain Marvel, Pixar hits Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur to name just a few.
Meg began her film career as a producer and President of Egg Pictures, where she produced Emmy and Golden Globe nominated films. A storyteller par excellence, Meg has taught at the American Film Institute and served as co-chair of the Graduate Producers Program at University of California’s School of Film and Television, where she taught master level story and development classes for several years.
Vidjay Beerpoot is the man behind the soulful score of the new animation feature Ainbo and the edgy soundscape of Netflix’s The Little Vampire 3D.
Adopted from India and brought up in the Netherlands, Vidjay has gone through an interesting creative journey through different cultures all the way to Hollywood. Today, based in Los Angeles, he composes music for movies, TV shows and video games all over the world, including for Disney, Netflix, Universal Pictures, Warner Brothers, Sony and Nickelodeon.
Jiggy George began his career as a designer and then went on to work with some of the top media and entertainment brands, right from MTV and Pogo to Viacom and Times of India.
Throughout his career, Jiggy George deftly balanced the ‘ying’ and ‘yang’ of creativity and commerce, achieving what very few in the industry can boast of – an undying passion for creativity, coupled with a nuanced understanding of management. Today, Jiggy is a successful entrepreneur and founder of Dream Theatre, one of India’s leading brand management and licensing companies.
From award-winning commercials to the country’s longest running ad campaign, ad man Rahul daCunha’s portfolio is formidable, to say the least. Working with some of the biggest and oldest brands in India, Rahul mastered the art of snugly positioning brands in the public psyche through immensely relatable, riveting campaigns.
Most notable being the campaign for Amul, widely adored for its subtle, superbly-timed social commentary. But advertising is only one side of this creative genius. As a theatre artist, Rahul has worked on some avant-garde productions as a director and playwright. His plays have travelled across the world from Australia to USA.
Vani Saraswathi Balgam started associating with the animation industry at a time when the rest of us would have just started watching animation. Thanks to her dad, who started an independent 2D animation studio out of their home, Vani grew up in an exhilarating creative environment throughout her childhood.
Starting with painting, photography and amateur film-making as a teenager, she went on to establish a successful career in animation. She worked as the Head of Creative Management for DreamWorks Animation in Shanghai and as Executive Director of Rhythm & Hues studio in India. She managed the teams of artists and technicians that created the VFX and digital characters in Academy Award- winning movies like Life of Pi, The Golden Compass and The Chronicles of Narnia.
Organised by Toonz Media Group, the virtual Summit will be held from May 4 to 8, 2021, over the Zoom platform.
At the inaugural session, the welcome speech will be delivered by P Jayakumar, CEO, Toonz Media Group. This will be followed by a keynote address by filmmaker and founder of Whistling Woods Films Institute Subash Ghai.
Then comes the felicitation and AMS Awards declaration by Ashish Kulkarni, FICCI Chairman for Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comic Forum.
Prof Nina Sabnani, winner of the Legend of Indian Animation Award at Animation Masters Summit 2021 and Ketan Mehta, winner of Special Contribution to Indian Animation Industry Award for his overall contributions to the industry, will deliver the acceptance speech.
On Day 2, the Ed Tech panel discussion to start at 10 am IST will have Ashish Kulkarni as moderator. The panelists are Dhimant Vyas, Chief Creative Director, Byjus, Dr M Srinivasan, Founder, GEAR Foundation, Prerna Jhunjhunwala, Founder, Little Paddington and Creative Galileo and Sasikumar Pillai, Executive Director, Toonz Education Services. From 11.30, there will be an in conversation session with Rahul daCunha.
While Day 3 will have an in conversation session with MegLeFauve and session by Jiggy George, Day 4 will have sessions by Vidjay Beerepoot and Vani Saraswathi Balgam.
On the last day of the summit, there will be an AWN panel discussion. Dan Sarto will be the moderator, and Monica Lago Kaytis, Co-Founder, Rise Up Animation, Bryan Dimas, LatinX in Animation, LXiA Co-Founder and Co-Director, Jinko Gotoh, Vice President, Women in Animation and Mansi Darbar-VP, Corporate Strategy and Development, IN10 Media will be the panelists. This will be followed by Ri8brain launch.
Animation Masters Summit (AMS) is an annual event celebrated by Toonz Media Group, a leading name in animation and Kids & Family Entertainment. Established in 1999 as the first ever animation event in India called “Week with the Masters”, it was recently renamed as Animation Masters Summit (AMS).
Animation Masters Summit celebrates the beautiful art of animation, bringing talents and experts from around the global animation Industry to interact with aspiring young talents. The event also offers a platform for masters to offer inspirations and insights on what it takes to create, connect and drive engaging content in this invigorating new entertainment era.
Licensing: The secret weapon in an Indian marketer’s arsenal
Source: WARC Exclusive, May 2021
Licensing offers Indian brands many opportunities but Dream Theatre’s Jiggy George says it is ignored by leadership teams and their strategy.
Indian marketers can use licensing as a way to test the market and launch in non-core categories.
Through licensing, Indian consumers can tap into the brand promise and reputation of the mother brand.
Successful licensed brands reflect years of investment and the core brand’s performance.
Why it matters
The global licensing industry is estimated at nearly US$300 billion with an annual growth rate of 12% but most Indian marketers have not explored this option because companies in India prefer to produce and market themselves versus partner via licensing.
Licensing is an excellent tool for Indian brand owners to protect their IP and reinforce branding while reaching new consumers.
At the same time, licensees save as no resources are needed for brand building with a market-ready brand.
The sophisticated online medium in India offers the best solution for licensing with better control of piracy.
Are you an Indian marketer with a strong brand that has brand extension possibilities in categories outside of your core business? Licensing could be your answer to bridge this challenge.
Why create a new team and distribution when you could license the brand to someone who has these capabilities and intent?
For years, I thought it would be great to see the Indian mega-brand Amul license its distinct flavor of butter to a cookie manufacturer and launch Amul cookies. Then, Amul decided to do it in-house, perhaps due to it being an extension of the brand’s food business and because of its distribution network.
It’s not to fault Amul’s management decision but it could have considered partnering in this category with an established player like ITC foods or Parle and keeping their focus on dairy products.
Licensing is one of the potent tools in the arsenal of a marketer that checks many boxes, beyond the obvious one of revenue generation. I also believe it’s a closely guarded secret that has not unlocked its potential in India as it’s not in the MBA curriculum or on the menu cards of marketers.
I call it a closely guarded secret as there is more than meets the eye. Consumer durables like a hairdryer, toaster, headphones or perfumes are usually licensed products. Consumers unaware of this are tapping into the brand promise and reputation of the mother brand. It’s also the outcome of years of investments made by brand owners in their core business. So the brand owner invests in building its core business and licenses the possibilities outside the core.
This is also true for entertainment brands. Lines get blurred as properties may start with one medium and move to others. They could have started from comics (like DC and Marvel), movies (Lucas and Star Wars), books (Harry Potter), toys (He-man), games (Pokémon) or design (Hello Kitty). Regardless, the fact is that owners have made investments worth millions of dollars in the content to then make extensions for their brand and leverage consumer products via licensing.
The more successful licensed brands reflect years of investment and performance of their core brand. It’s akin to sport – we are less likely to be bothered by a million endorsements/extensions from a sportsmanlike Virat Kohli as long as he keeps winning on the field. This is also the reason why Air Jordans are timeless and so too Kanye West and his brand Yeezy with Adidas. The design aesthetic is great but it’s unlikely to have worked if their body of work was not inspiring. We are tapping into the trust and performance of the “mother ship”.
Understanding the concept better
Simplistically, licensing is like a simple lease agreement. The owner of a brand (licensor) leases the intellectual property to a third party (licensee) for a designated time and geography and for a fee. This fee is usually like royalty on sales and a minimum guarantee model.
The global licensing industry was estimated at US$292.8 billion in 2019 at retail and is growing at 12%annually.Therearemanykindsoflicensing.Fromcorporatelicensing(likesofCoca-Cola,HarleyDavidson,Ford) to collegiate licensing (Harvard, Yale, etc).
Indiaranks18thintheworldwithUS$1,864millionatretailwitha0.6%share.Characterentertainment,corporate, and fashion are its top three categories.
Besides the obvious benefits of revenue, licensing allows marketers to test market their brand in geographies before they actually spend resources for a full-fledged launch. It allows marketers to protect their IP and reinforce their brand positioning. It also allows a brand owner to extend its offering to new target consumers, for example, many cannot afford an Amani suit or Fendi bag but they can buy the perfume.
Similarly, one may not be able to purchase an MF Hussain or Raza artwork but a mug embellished with the splendour of their designs would be our cup of tea.
Licensing also reinforces brand equity and authenticity. Bourbon brand Jack Daniels extending into chocolates or barbecue sauces is an example.
Beyond all of this, licensing is the transference of emotions of trust, pride, and humour of the mother brand to the licensed offering. This explains why sporting teams license their brand into merchandise and why fans sport them with pride.
For a licensee, it saves them the resources of brand building by leaning on a market-ready brand.
Why has India not fully realised the value of licensing?
I believe most marketers have not explored licensing as a possibility in their marketing plan. With corporate brands, there are many opportunities and it’s largely a function of the leadership teams and their strategy. Indian companies prefer to produce and market themselves versus partner via licensing. It’s rarely in their consideration set.
So an iconic brand like Royal Enfield in India produces all their non-biking gear, apparel and helmets with an in- house team while Harley Davidson uses licensing to globally extend its brand.
Unless it’s a tactical promotional tool – why not stick to your core business and license non-core to strong licensees who will create great products and distribute to the target audience? Then use marketing effectively to build on marketing events and legitimise the merchandise?
My belief is that very few brands have the luxury of self-activating in all their relevant categories.
I would further clarify by saying that one should build brand extensions via self-activation if it’s in the same business of food, personal products or fashion.
Again, this is a decision based on how big the categories are and how much resourcing should be thrown into this extension. Some fashion brands have acknowledged licensing in categories like fashion accessories, recognising the value of focusing their in-house teams, COGs, marketing and operations on their core apparel. Brands like Levis and Pepe license innerwear and accessories to licensees who produce and distribute under license.
Dream Theatre’s consulting project for Bennett & Coleman looked at extending their publishing assets into other categories. With valuable inputs from their editorial teams and business head, we built the architecture for the brands, licensed Femina to Shoppers Stop that now carries apparel and fashion accessories in over 60 stores. The team has now ventured into salons.
On FMCG, we have seen some food licensing of Cadbury’s Oreo with ice cream.
Opportunities for effective licensing in corporate and fashion
If one looks at the opportunity for India’s entertainment-licensed brands, the good news is that India ticks two of the three boxes for a successful licensing business. First, Indian consumers know about entertainment, corporate, fashion and even collegiate brands.
We have a vibrant entertainment economy and it’s fairly inexpensive to consume entertainment brands. It’s fairly affordable for consumers to access a gamut of channels, with smartphones now providing even more access to brands.
Another factor influencing our knowledge of brands is travel, with more Indians travelling for leisure than ever before pre-COVID-19.
Second, our consuming class in India is significant.
However, the third component of this three-legged stool is still half-baked – retail.
There is a direct correlation between the growth of organised retail and the growth of licensing as a business. Most retail in India is disorganised, with scattered mom-and-pop stores that make licensing challenging and limit it.
Firstly, most of this scattered trade has restrictions of size and don’t present the best environment for licensed products, ie display and range.
It’s challenging due to a lack of addressability and lots of royalties are underreported; the business is much larger than is reported by licensees.
The third challenge is piracy, which is linked to the lack of addressability.
In India, it’s also unlikely that you will find pirated products in any organised retail outlets but only because the footprint is still very limited.
Online in India is very sophisticated and better than many countries in the world. It offers a “last mile” reach to fans and is the best solution for licensing.
However, online majors are more incentivised to increasing resellers versus protecting IPs. Most brands face huge piracy online and the takedown of pirated products by the platforms leaves much to be desired. In fact, it’s more challenging to prove that you are a legitimate brand on a platform like Amazon and Flipkart than listing a pirated product as a reseller/distributor.
The genesis of online retail and the growth of this business in India has been fuelled by private equity money. The goal was to build a habit with Indian consumers through discounting versus convenience. Being value seekers, Indians have been enjoying these discounts and services and this has placed a big burden on the producers of merchandise (prospective licensees). The pricing makes it challenging to load royalties. If price is most important and if piracy is rampant even on the online platforms, then pirates win.
The market has also not grown due to a lack of investment of brand owners. Most of the licensors believe that just because their brands resonate in major markets like the US and Europe, they should work in India without effort. This is true for some brands with global investments in India but for the rest, it’s a lazy strategy.
Most of these owners make no effort to protect their IP or marketing. For them, it’s the classic chicken-or-egg dilemma: if the market is still not giving huge returns, why focus resources?
There is little effort to bring down piracy (especially online which seems more in their control) or legitimise strong licensees via any support.
In all of this, there is always hope. The brand owners who invest early and deep will capitalize, akin to the Japanese and Korean companies that have stayed invested in many Indian businesses. It’s too big a market to ignore and organised retail will continue to grow and so will addressability. The prominent licensors will invest and push platforms to legitimise their offering. More important, they will be forced to have a flexible and differentiated strategy in this market.
More corporate marketers will see licensing as a better tool to test the market and launch in non-core categories. Focus will be a key consideration where brands stick to categories in which they have the expertise and optimal resources. Less will be more, where they capitalise on their brand value by using licensing as an effective tool to reach their target audience.
It’s only a matter of time.
Founder & CEO, Dream Theatre
Jiggy – who is also the head of the India chapter of Licensing International, the global trade organisation for the licensing business – previously held senior management positions in Turner Broadcasting and Viacom, where he set up the licensing business for both companies.
He started his career as a fashion designer and entertainment journalist. He has a master’s degree in management studies and significant experience in sales (TimesofIndia), marketing (MTV and Pogo), licensing (MTV, Cartoon Network and Warner Bros), and project management (Turner and Sesame Street).