“‘Sonic Boom’ is definitely an evolution; it’s a new look and feel for the brand,” explains SEGA Europe Head of Brand Licensing Sissel Henno. She says the new series – which will launch later this year in the US and France, and Autumn 2015 across the rest of Europe, along with tie-in video games, comic books and other licensed products – represents a new era for the beloved character and a platform to introduce Sonic the Hedgehog to a new generation of fans.
“Sonic Boom” is definitely the centerpiece of SEGA Europe’s licensing efforts for the latter half of 2014 and beyond, but it’s far from the only area of concentration for the company. Henno says in addition to Sonic, SEGA Europe continues to focus its attention on brands such as its extremely popular Football Manager games and retro brands such as the Mega Drive/Genesis. Even without the launch of “Sonic Boom,” SEGA Europe has a lot on its plate, and Henno says now is an exciting time for the brand.
A co-production between SEGA and French company OuiDo! Entertainment, “Sonic Boom” will be the fifth animated series starring Sonic the Hedgehog, and the first to be produced in high-definition computer-generated animation. The show features a new look for Sonic and his friends, including fan-favorites like Knuckles, Tails and Amy as well as Sticks, a new character created for the series who will play a major role in the storyline as well as the upcoming “Sonic Boom” video games for Nintendo’s Wii U and 3DS systems. The series also will be the inspiration for a new comic book series produced by Archie Comics.
Henno says SEGA Europe is confident that the continued popularity of Sonic the Hedgehog will ensure “Sonic Boom” is a success, and so far the buzz surrounding the new cartoon is promising. “He is very well-known already, and we’re already seeing strong interest across a number of countries,” she says, noting that SEGA is seeing a lot of interest in the new brand in many areas of Europe and the Middle East.
The launch of “Sonic Boom” also represents a new approach for SEGA Europe in terms of licensing opportunities. Henno says the company will continue to focus on the traditional avenues that Sonic the Hedgehog has always done well in, but also on new areas and new consumer products that the company is still exploring. “This time, we’re going much wider because we believe the timing is right,” Henno says.
Those additional opportunities include mobile games, such as the recent success Sonic Dash. Henno says the inclusion of Sonic the Hedgehog in Nintendo’s “Super Smash Bros.” video games is another area where SEGA believes new licensing partnerships can be made. “We think there’s lots of opportunities in the future,” she says.
Alongside Sonic the Hedgehog, SEGA Europe continues to build on the success of its other brands in the licensed products arena. Henno says the company has identified numerous opportunities for its retro brands, specifically the 1990s-era Mega Drive system (known in the United States as the SEGA Genesis). Along with clothing and other licensed products, a new coffee table book is coming within the next year that documents the history of the video game system that established SEGA as one of the dominant players in the industry and introduced Sonic as its mascot and most popular character. “We’re seeing quite a lot more happening on the retro front,” Henno says.
SEGA Europe also has a strong property in the form of the Football Manager series, which allows players to take control of their favorite soccer team and guide it through a simulated season, with rosters kept up-to-the-minute through a centralized database. Henno says the game is so realistic and detailed that the actual teams sometimes refer to it when scouting opponents, and fans of the games are looking for more products to keep them connected to the brand. “We see a very good fit because there’s such a good fan base and there’s such a demand for good, quality products,” she says.