The Bugg Report catches us with Jeff Daggett, Vice President of Consumer Products at NBCUniversal Brand Development.
Thanks for speaking to The Bugg Report, Jeff. Can you give us an update on your background and how you got into the Licensing business?
My background is as a retail startup person. I was sent to Japan by The Gap in 1994 to help launch their first retail operation in Asia and subsequently went to work for Levi’s and then Nike to start their retail operations in Japan as well. The way I got started in licensing was that I was pulled into it, actually. A former mentor from my Nike days invited me to apply for his Japan posting when he was promoted to a leadership role in the U.S. I knew very little about licensing when I started and was fortunate to be surrounded by a great team and experienced coaches. I am still constantly learning.
Working with companies such as Vodafone and Nike must be a unique experience. What (if any) are the major points of difference when working in these industries when compared to Licensing and Films?
Whereas with Vodafone or Nike one is expected to manage every detail of the business, the largest difference is that as a licensor, the goal is to find world-class partners and stay out of their way. As a licensor, we’re fortunate to work with a great agent in WP Brands and with world-class licensees who do a wonderful job managing all of those details to our collective benefit.
What is your current role at NBCUniversal and what excites you the most about your job and working for the company?
I currently serve as Vice President of Consumer Products for Asia Pacific within NBCUniversal Brand Development. What excites me the most about my job are the stories we tell, and the people I get to work with in order to tell those stories. Great franchises are made from great stories. I love going to work every day because I’m working with master storytellers – both the creators of our content at the studio, as well as the wonderful licensees who interpret it into amazing product. There is wisdom and magic at work in both cases, and both are critical for success.
You have had a number of smash-hit movies of late including Jurassic World, Minions and Furious 7. Can you give us a general overview of these and the success you have seen here?
Minions grossed $1.2B at the worldwide box office, making it the 2nd highest grossing animated film of all time. NBCUniversal Brand Development expanded its consumer products program to include best-in-class licensing partners like master toy licensee Thinkway Toys along with Hasbro and EA. The franchise’s global retail sales now top $3.5B.
Jurassic World appealed to every generation proving that a film can create a shared worldwide experience. The film grossed more than $1.67B at the worldwide box office, becoming the 4th highest grossing film of all time. It was also the No. 3 most talked about film on Facebook in 2015. The global cross-category licensing program was anchored in toys, including industry leader Hasbro, the master toy partner for 20 years, along with The LEGO Group and Ludia. And, this year, fans in Australia will get a special treat – Jurassic World: The Exhibition will premiere exclusively at Melbourne Museum, 19 March – 9 October (for more information or tickets, visit www.jurassicworldtheexhibition.com).
Furious 7 topped $1.51B at the global box office on its way to becoming the 6th highest grossing film ever. It was the No. 2 most talked about film on Facebook in 2015.
Specific to Australia, four Universal Pictures films made the top 10 highest grossing films in Australia in 2015 – Jurassic World, Minions, Furious 7 and Pitch Perfect 2. 2015 was a phenomenal year for Universal in Australia.
The Secret Life of Pets is out in September this year; what can fans expect from this film?
For their fifth fully-animated feature-film collaboration, Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures present The Secret Life of Pets, a comedy about the lives our pets lead after we leave for work or school each day. The movie, from the humans behind the Despicable Me franchise, will be released on 8th September in Australia. Illumination Entertainment, founded by Chris Meledandri in 2007, is one of the entertainment industry’s leading producers of all-audience event films. With the success of 2010’s Despicable Me; 2011’s Hop; 2012’s Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax; 2013’s juggernaut Despicable Me 2 and the highest grossing animated film of 2015, Minions, Illumination’s films have made more than $3 billion.
A film with such wonderful characters must lend itself to great Licensing and Consumer products programs; what is in the works from this perspective?
NBCUniversal Brand Development has secured licensees across all categories in support of Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures’ The Secret Life of Pets. The consumer products program is anchored by global master toy partner Spin Master. Spin Master is developing a line that includes traditional plush and figurines along with interactive and motorized toys that bring the pets to life in unexpected ways. The entire product line spanning all categories including toys, games, apparel, accessories, publishing, home furnishings, stationery/social expression and more will be available at retailers around the world. The products will debut in Australia in August, just ahead of the September film release.
Beyond the films mentioned above, can you provide any updates on what else in the works from Universal from 2017 and beyond?
2017 will see the release of the next chapter in the Fast & Furious saga along with Despicable Me 3 and Pitch Perfect 3. And in 2018, we’ll release the sequel to Jurassic World.
Thank you for speaking with us Jeff and we hope to chat to you again soon.