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National Geographic Sets Aggressive New Licensing Course image

National Geographic Sets Aggressive New Licensing Course

National Geographic is seeking to increase annual licensing revenues to $1 billion by 2022, up from the current $100-$200 million as its licensee roster expands to 1,500-2,000 from about 60, says National Geographic’s Rosa Zeegers.

The goal is to revamp a licensing program that includes products as well as a location-based program that features activity centers and retail stores. The program will build on the partnership National Geographic struck with 21st Century Fox in 2015, in which Fox paid $725 million to get 73% of the newly formed National Geographic Partners, which includes licensing, cable channels, magazines and the web site. National Geographic Society controls that remaining portion, revenue from which is used to fund the organization. With the new structure, National Geographic had its first licensee summit at Licensing Expo on Monday.

The initial plans focus licensing on the Society’s “master” brand that consists of the photo archive, with a target of having the first products from the new strategy hit retail in 2018. National Geographic developed a new style book that takes its cues from the photo collection and is being shown to potential licensees this week.

National Geographic also will develop licensing for a growing number of original series airing on the National Geographic Channel, including “Mars” and the Ron Howard-executive produced “Genius,” which debuted on April 25. The stylebooks for original programming will be available at the 2018 Licensing Expo with product to arrive the following year, says Zeegers, who joined the National Geographic Society from Mattel in December.

“When it was the National Geographic Society there were a lot of licensees that knocked at the door and most of them were let in, but at that point in time they couldn’t go out and solicit licensees based on a well-defined strategy or mission and action plan,” says Zeegers, referring to the organization’s status as a non-profit. “It was a bit all over the place and we are cleaning that up right now.”

Among the initial focuses will be location-based licensing. National Geographic has an agreement with IP2 Entertainment for Ultimate Explorer Family Entertainment Centers, the first of which is scheduled to open in Shenyang, China in August, says Zeegers. IP2 is expected to open up to nine more centers by late 2018, including two in the U.S. and 1-2 in Latin America, says Zeegers. In addition, National Geographic will move to expand its network of stores, the bulk of which are currently in South Korea under an agreement with Nature Co., which designs and sources the products for them.

Nature Co. expects to double the number of stores it operates to about 40 by spring 2019, says Zeegers. The National Geographic stores in the U.S. and Europe were closed and a new licensee is being sought for those regions, says Zeegers. Also on tap is a 60,000-square-foot Encounter Ocean Odyssey experience that licensee SPE will open in New York’s Times Square this fall as part of a two-year agreement.

National Geographic also is seeking to expand the array of licensed outdoor and sports equipment, apparel and accessories, electronics and footwear. It recently signed a deal with VF Corp’s Eagle Creek for luggage and backpacks, the first of which will arrive in fall 2018. German footwear supplier Dachstein will develop hiking boots under a license for Europe, but with an option for other territories, says Zeegers. Dachstein will launch with 1-2 SKUs in 2018 and a broad line the following year. Both products represent new categories for National Geographic.

“In a style guide I want to go beyond just pretty pictures and offer product features that are functional,” says Zeegers.

Contact:

National Geographic Partners, Rosa Zeegers, EVP Consumer Products and Experiences, 202-791-1433, rosa.zeegers@natgeo.com

 

 

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