How to License Your Brand: An Interview with Steve Scebelo, SVP of Merchandising and Licensing at Gemstar - TV Guide International Inc.
As publishers continue to seek new revenue streams beyond advertising, licensing has proven to many to be a viable option. TV Guide International Inc.’s licensing department is a great example of how a publishing company can increase its revenue by taking advantage of licensing opportunities. Inbox asked Steve Scebelo, SVP of merchandising and licensing at Gemstar - TV Guide International Inc., a multimedia platform company including a magazine, to educate our readers about licensing opportunities for their brands.
INBOX: Can you explain how magazine publishers can take advantage of licensing their brands? What opportunities exist that they may not have known about?
SCEBELO: Develop new products that allow ‘an existing and loyal audience’ to engage the brand in new and fun ways. Take the brand personality traits that the audience loves and create new products that will enhance the consumer’s interaction with the core products. Don’t stray too far from the core, or you risk alienating the loyal customer and potentially damaging the brand. It should begin with a full and comprehensive understanding of your brand, its qualities and where you want to see it extend and grow in new ways. Then, you look at how a licensing program can help achieve those goals. Products should begin in the most natural categories for extension. (E.g., TV Guide has used its content to develop numerous extensions in the publishing category.) Then as the program grows, so can the product mix.
INBOX: What qualities should magazine publishers should look for when hiring a licensing director?
SCEBELO: Innovation and creativity and vision to see the big picture in order to create a comprehensive program that not only generates revenue, but makes a solid contribution to the overall brand strength. Someone who has a passion for the brand. People who have an appreciation for both sides of the equation (editorial and business) so that they understand the best ways to work with content to develop new products with revenue potential. Karina Reeves is TV Guide’s director of licensing overseeing the day-to-day direction of our licensing program.
INBOX: Why do you feel publishers should invest in a licensing director, instead of delegating the responsibility to existing editorial staff?
SCEBELO: Licensing is an area that takes expertise and specific knowledge about marketing, manufacturing, retail climate, trends, financial forecasting, etc. Licensing is not a project, it’s a department. Hiring a licensing director helps ensure avoidance of any projects that would result in net-negative revenue. Licensing is a great example of brand activation and experimental marketing that generates revenue.
INBOX: What opportunities does TV Guide take advantage of in terms of licensing, what are some of your current projects?
SCEBELO: The great relationship with our audience across all platforms. We are creating books and other fun, relevant products that are for people who have a passion for TV and their favorite shows. We are working with the various TV Guide platforms to integrate and market the licensed products, in print, on air and online. New projects we are working on include: extensions of original TV Guide Channel programming content “Trapped in TV Guide” onto DVD. The integration of newly acquired content -- Jump the Shark Web site -- into existing licensed products. Also, exciting new book releases this fall from Sasquatch Books and Running Press. Finally, new interactive games featuring a variety of content assets.
INBOX: Do you feel more magazine publishers will look to explore opportunities in licensing in 2007? And why?
SCEBELO: It makes sense for all brands with loyal audiences and rich content. It strengthens presence in existing retailer channels, while opening new distribution in retailers and nontraditional channels. Done correctly, a licensing program will generate incremental revenue and brand impressions, while reinforcing the image and personality of the brand.