Out of Sight

Licensors continue to show interest in utilitarian product categories that at one time would not have been considered for licensing. One example: electronics and computer components such as memory cards and graphics processing units (GPUs), as well as batteries. These items have been attracting the attention of entertainment/character licensors of late:

  • This month, Disney/Lucasfilm and NVidia launched two Star Wars Collector’s Edition GeForce Titan Xp GPUs, one tied to the Galactic Empire and the other to the Jedi Order. The graphics cards have the same speed and other attributes as any Titan Xp card, but have a sophisticated design that says Star Wars.
  • In September, Nintendo announced a deal with Western Digital to create Nintendo and SanDisk co-branded memory cards meant to be used in the Nintendo Switch videogame console. Unlike the Star Wars example, these microSDXC cards do not feature character graphics, but rather just the two brands; the packaging does depict Super Mario Bros. (In the past, U.K. company Integral Memory has marketed character graphics-printed memory cards for properties such as The Simpsons and The Rabbids.)
  • Kids Battery holds licenses with Warner Bros. (for Justice League, Batman, and Superman) and Nickelodeon (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Paw Patrol) for batteries that are made for use in electronic toys and billed as having 10 times the lifespan of other batteries when powering energy-sucking playthings. The batteries, as well as the packaging, have character graphics.

External electronics accessories have long been associated with licensed characters. Mimoco, for example, has had flash drives, memory packs, and card readers tied to a range of character and entertainment properties on the market for some time. But these are meant for external use, so the consumer can view the graphics throughout the product’s life span. Conversely, the cards and batteries mentioned above are utlilized inside the computer or toy.

In this case, the license makes the item a novelty or conversation piece upon purchase. But its utilitarian nature, especially since it is hidden most of the time, means that the property alone is typically not enough to drive purchase. The memory card, graphics card, or battery must also be equal or superior to its non-licensed equivalent in order for it to have long-term value. That said, such products are likely to entice completists, superfans, and/or youngsters loyal to a favorite property.

It should be noted that batteries and power packs have been a target category of corporate brand licensors and a variety of other property owners in recent years. The use of character graphics on batteries and internal components, on the other hand, is less widespread, with examples remaining relatively few and far between.

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