One opportunity that is currently at the forefront for SPCP is Ghostbusters. The media franchise that is Ghostbusters includes the 1984 original film and a 1989 sequel, along with several animated TV shows and video games. With the impending release of the Ghostbusters reboot this coming July, licensing programs around the classic and current elements of the franchise are in full swing.
“Our licensing program for the movie is extremely robust. The movie is supported by more than 100 licensees with more than 500 SKUs for the classic and new film programs,” Caplan says. “This includes gaming, toys, digital, fashion, publishing, collectibles and more. We have major partnerships with best-of-breed partners in those categories. We’ve truly assembled a great lineup supporting our efforts.”
Part of the strength of the brand can be traced to the highly recognizable Ghostbusters logo. It is a common element present in both the classic and modern parts of the franchise. As one of the most recognizable logos in entertainment history, the logo seems to resonate with all ages.
“People recognize its identity and meaning,” Caplan says. “It is aspirational and gives fans the impression that everyone can be a Ghostbuster. The Ectomobile is another recognizable element, as it is inherently seen as a hero vehicle that people associate with Ghostbusters.”
As SPCP has worked on its licensing programs around the property, it has sent a clear message to the licensing community and to retailers that it is developing Ghostbusters into a long-term program. The company is aiming to develop new content because it believes that consumers want to see more of the property. As one of Sony’s franchise properties, plans are for the new movie to springboard to more content – and products – in the future.
“Toys have just been released, and more categories will be rolling out as we get closer to the movie,” Caplan says. “Retailers are dedicating shelf space to the products, and we’ve seen people wearing product. There has been a lot of positive response coming out of social media for the Ghostbusters merchandise.”
Building the Buzz
SPCP understands that its partnerships are critical to the success of its licensing programs. It is working with companies such as Mattel, Underground Toys, Funko, Activision, Hybrid Apparel and many others. It has also teamed up with the iconic rapper Nas on the limited edition Nas x Ghostbusters line. Six brands are part of the initiative: Nas’ Hstry brand for streetwear, New Era Cap for headgear, Fila for footwear, Italia Independent for eyewear, Monster for headphones and Tokyobike for bikes.
“This gives us an inroad to the 18- to 36-year-old audience and has elevated the brand beyond the mass market,” Caplan says. “This program is very fun and fashion-forward. Altogether, we have product for the whole family at every price point, which we are very proud of.”
In addition to working closely with licensing partners, SPCP has been focused on working with retailers to define its products and provide information on the strengths of its licensees and how product lines will resonate with customers. The company has been meeting with retailers for more than a year, and the excitement at the retail level is a testament to the strength of the Ghostbusters property.
“We work closely with licensees and their sales and design teams to define quality products that appeal to buyers,” Caplan says. “We talk about what kind of art appeals to a retailer, and we come up with different SKUs for different retailers to accommodate their target consumers.”
Ghostbusters certainly has a lot of potential. It has the classic parts of the franchise, and the new movie could be the launching point for even more content in the future. At the same time, SPCP is proving how it can support other key studio franchises, such as the successful Hotel Transylvania, the fully computer-animated Smurfs and the untitled Emoji movie, all coming from Sony Pictures Animation, which in the past five years alone has generated more than $2 billion at the global box office.
With a new executive team and a powerful animation slate, Sony Pictures Animation is committed to delivering a steady stream of content to build brands that can live in the entertainment and retail universe.
“We look at all of our properties closely and come up with the right program for each,” Caplan says. “As a merchandising group, Sony Pictures Animations provides our group with a solid canvas to start developing properties that have robust appeal with families. Ghostbusters, Hotel Transylvania, the untitled Emoji movie and the new Smurfs are all important franchises with opportunities to offer fun product. We will continue to venture out into the marketplace, and build programs that are differentiated, relevant and exciting for today’s consumers.”