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Walt Disney’s ‘Cars 3’ inks highest brand deals for animation in India

LiveMint logoLiveMint 12-06-2017 Lata Jha

New Delhi: The Walt Disney Co.’s India unit has signed 40 brand association deals in the run-up to the release of its animation comedy Cars 3 on Friday, making it the highest number of partnerships for an animation film in the country.

The third instalment in the animated film series has beaten Disney’s own record of 16 brands with comedy adventure Finding Dory last year.

Industry executives aware of the deals peg the brand associations for the film at Rs110 crore in retail sales value. The deals comprise two components, a one-time licensing fee and royalties on merchandise sale, said Saurabh Uboweja, brand guru and chief executive officer at brand consultancy firm Brands of Desire.

For deals like these, the income for Disney can typically range from a few lakh to a few crore depending on the value of the franchise and the level of engagement with the brand.

“Movies that are produced for children generally offer more opportunities to develop brand licensing deals and merchandise collections,” Uboweja said, adding that Walt Disney in particular has been a global leader in the field, first licensing its animal cartoon character and official mascot Mickey Mouse in 1929.

The brands on board for Cars 3 include e-commerce firm Amazon, toy retailers Hamleys and Mattel, fashion retailers Myntra, Max, Pantaloons and Bioworld, footwear brands Crocs and Bata, accessories firm Titan and furnishing fabrics brand D’Décor, among others.

“At Disney, we are always looking at offering products that fans can enjoy 365 days a year and are thrilled to be working with as many as 40 brands for Cars 3. Each of our licensees helps us offer a piece of the Disney.Pixar Cars universe that fans can take back home. Our long-term relationships with our licensees are catalyzed by tent-pole movies like these,” said Sanjeet Mehta, executive director and head, consumer products, Disney India.

The Brian Fee directed animation comedy that features the voices of Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Chris Cooper, Armie Hammer, Larry the Cable Guy, Bonnie Hunt, Nathan Fillion, Kerry Washington and Lea DeLaria will be released across more than 800 screens in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and English. As part of the promotional campaign, toy brand Mattel has launched a series of cars and play sets inspired by the characters and plot of the movie including 45 die-cast vehicles featuring authentic styling.

“As the distribution of international movies increases in India, we’re witnessing toys like action figures, cars, princesses and dolls dominating retail shelf space. Undoubtedly, kids are immensely excited with products that bring alive their favourite onscreen content,” said Ishmeet Singh, country manager-India, Mattel.

“Cars 3 has been highly anticipated and we’re confident that our merchandise will perform exceptionally well among kids,” Singh added.

The Cars 3 association with battery brand Duracell includes on-pack promotion with a special call-out to a contest where 500 winners stand a chance to win an RC (remote controlled) Lightning McQueen car (an anthropomorphic stock car that is part of the franchise) and a co-branded television and social media campaign, on-ground activations and in-store promotions.

E-commerce platform Amazon.in has brought out 300 online and offline products for the film, across multiple categories—toys, kids’ fashion, home furniture and furnishings, publishing, back-to-school goods, stationery and kids’ accessories.

“We are thrilled to partner with Disney for their Cars 3 merchandise. Toys and kids’ fashion have always been one of our most sought-after categories and we shall continue to explore many more such synergetic partnerships to offer our customers the best of selection on Amazon.in,” said Saurabh Srivastava, director, category management, Amazon India.

To be sure, there are multiple benefits of such partnerships both for the film and the brand—on the one hand, they bring in revenue over and above box office returns, satellite and music rights for the makers. Also, for a studio like Disney, it works as the most valuable method of brand monetization once they have created a powerful brand out of their fictional characters, where they get to earn royalty long after the movie releases.

The brands, on the other hand, are saved the investment required for new product development as they can leverage the Disney film franchise to come up with new collections and drive sales, thus also helping to build their own brand as they are perceived as category leaders if they are associated with the studio.

“The Hollywood brand space is growing fast in India, especially in the kids’ genre mainly because Indian content creators are yet to come up with a successful local kids’ franchise,” said Anand Chakravarthy, managing partner at Maxus India, a GroupM India company, adding that most animation even on television today continues to be sourced either from Japan or the US.

“Because the creative space in India has not been able to address that demand, brands will continue to leverage the value provided by Hollywood films,” he added.

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