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Rebranding Batman: Executive Producer Michael Uslan Shares How His Vision Helped the Dark Knight Soar

It has been more than two decades since Batman was resurrected and rebranded to the mainstream world, and it is largely due to a boy and his dream.

“I wasn’t just rejected from every studio in Hollywood; I was emphatically rejected because Batman was known only as a punch line to a joke,” says Michael Uslan, who became one of the highest-grossing movie executive producers of all time with the Batman film franchise. He writes about his personal journey in rebranding his hero to the world in his memoir, The Boy Who Loved Batman.

“When I watched the sitcom in 1966, I was both thrilled and horrified–the former because my idol was on TV with a cool car and the latter because people were laughing at Batman and that just killed me. I knew then that my purpose in life was to show everyone who the Dark Knight really was,” Uslan continues.

Here are some of the reasons the Batman franchise became one of the most successful in film history:

A talented team

Thanks to filmmakers like Christopher Nolan and Tim Burton, super producers, daring executives, amazing casts, and incredible crews, rebranding the character  became so strong that the word “Batman” wasn’t even included in the titles of the last two films, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.

Branding: A Built-in Narrative

A  cool symbol? Check. Tall, dark, and handsome? Check. A relatable origin story (no superpowers)? Check. Great technology for the character to use against villains? Check.

You know a brand has hit the mark when a logo conveys all of  the key points. But, rebranding can be tricky. Uslan knew about the innate potential, but Hollywood couldn’t see Batman as the Dark Knight after the 1960s sitcom, which is why it took 10 years after acquiring the rights to Batman to actually start production. Rebranding is often the art of uncovering a product’s past.

Branding: A Safer Investment

Other successful movies this year including The Avengers, The Amazing  Spider-Man, and The Hunger Games–all carry strong brands. Most successful products, in and out of Hollywood, have successful brands behind them, Uslan notes. When a brand has been established, it becomes a safer risk for investors and opens multiple revenue streams across many platforms.

Unwavering conviction

How does a middle-class kid in his 20s, the son of a stonemason and a bookkeeper, buy the film rights to Batman? How does that same guy create the comic-to-film craze that society has witnessed in the past two decades, when no one believed in his  vision? Every time his resolve was questioned, it came down to the same answer, “I had 100 percent confidence it would work,” Uslan says.
“Branding is absolutely the most important aspect to marketing any product these days,” Uslan says, “We succeeded. I believed in a vision that involved my favorite super-hero of all time, a character the world recognized and responded to across borders and even cultures. Batman needed to be presented in a way he’d only been seen in the comic books – as the Dark Knight.”

Michael Uslan is the originator and executive producer, along with his partner Benjamin Melniker, of the Batman franchise of motion pictures. In his 36 years in the film and television industry, he has been involved with such projects as National Treasure, Constantine, and countless animated projects. His projects have won Oscars, Golden Globes, and Emmy Awards. He is the author of The Boy Who Loved Batman, his autobiography, now in bookstores and at amazon.com 

Travelpro Introduces National Geographic Northwall Luggage Collection

Travelpro International partnered with National Geographic to introduce the National Geographic Northwall Collection of luggage. Montreal-based Holiday Group, Inc., and its wholly owned subsidiary Travelpro International, Inc., in the U.S. were selected as luggage and travel accessories licensee for the National Geographic and National Geographic Explorer brands in North America.

The National Geographic Northwall Collection is built to travel over any terrain, from city streets to the wilderness. This seven-piece luggage collection includes soft and rolling duffels, uprights, a daypack, and a sling bag.

The National Geographic Northwall Collection includes the following models: 22-inch soft duffel, sling bag, daypack, 22-inch expandable rollaboard luggage, 26-inch expandable rollaboard luggage, 26-inch expandable drop bottom rolling duffel, and 32-inch expandable drop bottom rolling duffel. The collection is constructed in an attractive olive green fabric with black accents.

National Geographic’s net proceeds from the sale of these products will support vital exploration, conservation, research and education programs.

Firefly Signs Size Matters Brand

Firefly Brand Management signs the brand Size Matters, which started out in the hunting categories and has now grown across multiple genres, including fishing, weight training, and many other outdoor activities. Size Matters can be found in specialty retailers and many sporting goods retailers.

Firefly’s newest licensee is Simsotex for men’s tees.  The humorous and innovative designs will be launching into various retailers this fall. Simsotex is an apparel manufacturing company based in LA with a strong standing in brand development and distribution.

Nerd Corps Entertainment Rolls Out New Original Property

Nerd Corps Entertainment’s newest global kids property, Slugterra, is set to roll out this fall with the launch of the animated television series. Disney XD is the global television partner for the show, which premiered in Canada on September 8 and will hit U.S. airwaves on October 15. The series, geared toward boys ages 6 to 11, is the kick-start to a full property rollout from Nerd Corps, which includes an online flash adventure game, and iPhone and iPad apps based on the series. A toy line from Jakks Pacific will hit shelves early next spring, and several key licensees are in place for consumer product launches next year.

Disney will launch the show around the world through next year. Full episodes will be showcased at the upcoming MIPJunior in Cannes, France. Nerd Corps is continuing to secure agents in key territories, as well as terrestrial broadcast.

2012 Licensing Awards Winners Announced

This year’s Licensing Awards took place in The Great Room at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel on September 11. Nearly 1,300 retailers, licensees, licensors, and suppliers attended the event to honor the industry’s highest achievers. Comedian Russell Kane hosted the event.

Now in its seventh year, the Licensing Awards celebrates achievements in all aspects of the industry including retailers, products, licensed properties, and marketing expertise. The headline sponsor for the event was Spring Fair International. A host of leading brands and companies sponsored individual awards categories, while industry trade association LIMA once again gave its support to the event.

Winners included Moshi Monsters Toy Range from Vivid Toy Group for Best Licensed Toys, Sainsbury’s for Best Pre-School Retailer of Licensed Products, and One Direction for Best Celebrity Licensed Property. The Honorary Achievement Award went to David Aykroyd and Paulin Lonsdale.

Titan Merchandise Ready For Action With Captain Action Merchandise

Titan Merchandise, a leading international licensee of pop culture icons, and Captain Action Enterprises, licensors of the popular Captain Action line, have teamed up to produce a series of T-shirts, mugs, I.D. holders and more.  These products will debut at New York Comic Con from October 11 to 14, and will be on sale internationally late this year.

Captain Action is based on the action figure created in 1966 by Stan Weston for Ideal Toys and sold internationally. The hero came equipped with a wardrobe of costumes such as Batman, The Lone Ranger, the Green Hornet, and more.

In 1967, Captain Action proved so popular that the line was expanded to include a sidekick, Action Boy, and a blue skinned alien foe with bug eyes, Dr. Evil. The line has experienced as strong resurgence, complete with an all-new toy line that debuted earlier this year.

Ralph Straus To Give This Year’s Big Interview At Brand Licensing Europe 2012

Ralph Straus, Head of Strategy and Brand Management at FIFA will give this year’s much anticipated Big Interview at Brand Licensing Europe 2012.

Taking place at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, October 17 in the Licensing Academy, this free session will see a leading authority on sports event branding discuss the ways in which FIFA harnesses the power of soccer and its flagship event, the FIFA World Cup, to reach out to fans through licensing and merchandising.

Straus will offer insights into how world soccer’s governing body is managing its global licensing program in the run up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup and beyond, outlining the key objectives of its long-term strategical approach.

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