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Leslie Ferraro Named President, Disney Consumer Products

Leslie Ferraro has been named president, Disney Consumer Products, effective immediately, it was announced today by Robert A. Iger, chairman and chief executive officer, and Thomas O. Staggs, chief operating officer, The Walt Disney Company.

A 16-year Disney veteran, Ms. Ferraro most recently served as Walt Disney Parks and Resorts’ executive vice president, global marketing, sales, and travel operations, where she was responsible for leading the marketing and sales teams in developing consumer campaigns worldwide.

As president of Disney Consumer Products, Ferraro will oversee a global operation that delivers innovative and engaging products, from toys and apparel to books and fine art, through its licensing, publishing, and Disney Store businesses. Ferraro assumes the role formerly held by Bob Chapek, who became chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in February. She will report directly to both Mr. Iger and Mr. Staggs.

Ferraro joined Disney in 1999 as director of marketing for Theme Parks and Resorts and went on to hold a variety of marketing leadership positions, including senior vice president of global marketing strategy and new business initiatives, and vice president of marketing for Disney Regional Entertainment. She has also served on the Hong Kong Disneyland board of directors.

Prior to joining Disney, Ferraro held various senior-level marketing positions at McCann-Erickson, Johnson & Johnson, and SmithKline Beecham.

Ferraro holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and marketing from George Washington University, a master’s degree in economics from the London School of Economics, and an MBA in finance from New York University.

AGP Shakes Up Personnel

American Greetings Properties (AGP) has revamped its licensing, entertainment, digital, and distribution teams, starting with the hire of former Zodiak Kids executive Karen Vermeulen. AGP is also assigning new roles to several other key executives as it positions itself for growth on its Care Bears brand, as well as other classic and new intellectual properties (IP).

Vermeulen joins AGP as its new head of global sales and co-productions. She will initially be based out of London. Previously, she was senior vice president of global sales and co-production at Zodiak Kids.

In addition to the hire of Vermeulen, AGP is making other personnel changes. Janice Ross is now head of global licensing; Megan Buettner is now head of creative studios; and Angelina Castro is now head of marketing.

Universal Signs Production Deal with Scholastic, Deborah Forte

Universal has announced a new production deal with Scholastic and Deborah Forte. According to Variety.com, “Universal Pictures is teaming with Scholastic on a three-year, first-look production agreement to produce live-action properties based on children’s literature.

The deal also brings Deborah Forte, the departing president of Scholastic Media, into the studio orbit. Forte is stepping down at the company in order to head up Silvertongue Films, a new venture under which she will work on a slate of Scholastic properties, as well as other types of projects. Silvertongue will open offices in Los Angeles and New York.

Universal already has several Scholastic properties in development, including Clifford, The Big Red Dog and The 39 Clues, with Forte serving as producer on both. Universal and Scholastic may also collaborate with outside producers on some properties.”

Brand Central Announces Promotions

Jodi BogdanoffBrand Central LLC has promoted two of its key team members as the agency continues to grow.

Jodi Bogdanoff is now vice president of licensing, having formerly served as licensing director. In her new role, Bogdanoff will oversee many of the agency’s food and beverage consumer products programs, including clients such as Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, ABC’s The Chew, MasterChef, and Beekman 1802. Bogdanoff will also continue to head up Brand Central’s team on the east coast.

Nancy SanieoffNancy Sanieoff has been promoted to senior licensing manager, where she will help manufacturer clients develop new strategic platforms to drive growth and innovation through licensing and contract-manufacturing partnerships. Sanieoff currently manages manufacturing clients including Schreiber Foods, Jel Sert, Brand Castle, and U.S. Playing Cards.

Moshi Monsters Boss Michael Acton Smith Steps Down

MoshiMonsters

The boss of Mind Candy, the company known for children’s social network Moshi Monsters, is to step down. Michael Acton Smith, who has run the business for 10 years, says he wanted to focus on a more creative role rather than the day-to-day running of the firm. Divinia Knowles, currently chief operating and financial officer, will become president. A new chief executive will be announced at a later date, the company said.

MGA Appoints Anne Gates as President

MGA Entertainment (MGAE) has appointed Anne Gates as president. Gates joined MGAE in early 2014 and MGA says she has proven to be a strategic and creative leader for the company’s portfolio of family entertainment franchises. In her new role, Gates will oversee all of MGAE’s global businesses and operations.

“Having Anne Gates as president will allow me to innovate and work more closely with the MGAE team on a vision for an exciting future, while Anne handles the day-to-day operation of the business. Anne and I will work very closely together to take MGAE to new heights,” says Isaac Larian, CEO of MGA Entertainment. “Her incredible determination and proven performance in systematically growing businesses, paired with her exceptional management and entertainment experience, will help position the company for continued growth and leadership in the toy and entertainment world.”

“I am honored and relish the opportunity to take on this new role to build on the strong foundation already established by Isaac Larian and the entire team,” says Anne Gates. “This is an exciting time to be at MGAE. We have a vast amount of innovative products and entertainment content coming down the pipeline.  I look forward to driving growth in the years to come.”

Gates previously served as global executive vice president and chief financial officer of Disney Consumer Products, where she oversaw all business development, finance, IT, global franchise marketing and North American sales. Prior to that role, she was executive vice president and managing director at Disney Consumer Products—Europe, in London. Previously, she worked in various other divisions at The Walt Disney Company, including Disney Interactive. Prior to joining Disney, Gates worked for PepsiCo, Bear Stearns, and AT&T.

Genius Brands International Forms Global Distribution Division

Genius Brands International has expanded with the formation of a new global distribution. Andrew Berman has been appointed for the newly formed position of Senior Vice President, Global Sales. He will oversee the new division and be responsible for overseeing worldwide distribution of GBI’s children content catalog across all media platforms.

Berman previously served as Vice President of Distribution for FreemantleMedia Kids & Family Entertainment, where he successfully launched the series Monsuno and Mattel’s Max Steel in the global market.

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment to Realign Operations, Appoints Executive Vice President

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment will realign strategic management to better position the company for growth. The changes are designed to manage a digital transition and increase global revenue. As part of the management realignment, current president of WBIE Martin Tremblay has named David Haddad to the newly created role of Executive Vice President, Publishing Operations.

Haddad will drive all revenue activities across WBIE’s live and console game businesses in addition to supporting a digital transition. Worldwide sales and distribution for console and digital games, digital publishing, live publishing, and business intelligence will report to him.

Haddad brought over 25 years of online entertainment and games experience when he joined the company a year ago under the position of Senior Vice President, Digital Publishing. He previously served leadership roles at Activision/Blizzard, Vivendi Games, Liveplanet, Etoys, Mattel, and The Walt Disney Company.


Big Red Soda, Transformers: Age of Extinction Partner for Limited Edition Cans

May27.Soda2Transformers fans can bring home some of their favorite characters from Transformers: Age of Extinction in the form of Big Red soda. The limited-edition cans, which hit the shelves on May 19, are available in six themes, including characters such as Optimus Prime and Bumblebee. Fans can also choose between the Autobot and Decepticon series of cans.

Fans can also win Transformers products with Big Red’s $25,000 sweepstakes. Big Red will be giving out prizes such as collectable figures, Hasbro toys inspired by the movie, apparel, DVDs, posters, and a cooler that transforms into a picnic table, totaling more than 900 products.

The Michael Bay film opens in theaters on June 27.

Epic Rights Launches Global Branding/Licensing Division

Epic Rights Launches Global Branding & Licensing Division2Epic Rights Launches Global Branding & Licensing Division

Epic Rights has launched a new global licensing and merchandising division dedicated to establishing partnerships between consumer products and entertainment-based intellectual properties. The new division will be guided by licensing industry executives Juli Boylan and Lisa Streff. Boylan, executive vice president, global strategic partnerships and licensing, will direct Epic Rights’ global strategy for developing licensing prospects in international markets. Streff is senior vice president, licensing.

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