The perceived viability of faith-based (e.g., Christian-themed) properties for licensing tends to rise and fall cyclically. Recent announcements suggest that inspirational licensing programs may be on an upswing as we enter 2018:
- Last month, Sony Pictures Consumer Products debuted a range of holiday merchandise tied to its animated feature film The Star, representing the studio’s first foray into faith-based licensing. Dandee International is the master licensee, with products available exclusively at Walmart, while Simon & Schuster and Phoenix International are on board as publishing licensees.
- Brand Central launched Bible bbs, a multiplatform entertainment property for children, earlier in 2017. Plans include entertainment, digital content, apps, and live shows, as well as consumer products such as books and food gifts. Beverly Hills Teddy Bear signed on in May as the master toy licensee.
- All American Licensing has represented God Bless The Broken Road, an independent live-action film produced by 10 West Studios, since 2016. The movie is currently scheduled for a 2018 release through Pure Flix Entertainment.
- The classic faith-based figurine brand, Precious Moments, has been expanding its licensing efforts over the past two-plus years, with bedding, hair accessories, and textiles being the most recent additions. In September, Precious Moments, Inc. signed UTA to help the property expand into entertainment platforms, and it is planning a number of promotions to support its 40th anniversary in 2018.
Most faith-based licensing initiatives are fairly narrow in scope, although a few, such as VeggieTales and Chicken Soup for the Soul—along with Precious Moments—were breakout mainstream successes during their heydays, with retailers such as Walmart supporting them. A contraction in Christian bookstore chains, historically the primary distribution channel for this sort of program in the U.S., has added to the challenges in recent years. That said, it is certainly possible for targeted faith-based merchandise efforts to flourish in gift and specialty shops and through e-commerce.
If you are interested in looking back on the year in licensing and consumer products, read our recently posted article The Year in Review: 2017, which highlights 10 trends that made a mark on the licensing business in the past 12 months.
RaugustReports is taking a break for the holidays but will be back on our regular Monday and Thursday schedule starting on January 4, 2018. Happy New Year to one and all.