As kids, getting a He-Man or Spiderman toy was a privilege for us. Many days, weeks and months would be spent nagging our parents to get that coveted toy. And to be fair to them, merchandising was not as common or as easily available ten years back, as it is today. And who would know this better than Jiggy George, founder and CEO of Dream Theatre. Dream Theatre is a pioneer in the licensing industry today and represents Warner Bros. consumer products for core portfolios of promotional licensing, food and beverages and personal care. In addition, for all licensing categories and portfolios, Dream Theatre also represents Rovio for Angry Birds, DreamWorks Animation, World Wrestling Entertainment, Saban Brands for Power Rangers Samurai, Sanrio for Mr. Men and Little Miss and the Discovery Enterprises portfolio for Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, Discovery Expedition, LA Ink, Miami Ink and American Chopper.
For the uninitiated, licensing simply means when an entity can use a well-known character – for example Tom & Jerry – and reproduce the character according to standards agreed with the owner of the character(Warner Bros in case of Tom & Jerry) across apparel, clothing, food, personal care and other diverse categories. And Dream Theatre has this permission for the above listed portfolio.
Jiggy turned entrepreneur after successfully establishing the licensing vertical for MNCs like Cartoon Network Enterprises, Viacom and Turner when they entered India. Over his 18 years of corporate experience, Jiggy also had stints with The Times Group, MTV Networks and POGO. He decided to venture out on his own in September 2010, because, he says: “I felt it was time to dream big and take up new challenges in life.” Jiggy was responsible for spearheading most licensing done in India and that gave him the confidence and the appetite to venture out on his own.
A brand of his own
Another reason Jiggy started up was the ambition to create his own brand. He knew the nitty-gritty’s of the licensing industry, had all the contacts and knew the ground realities – all that was left to do was to take the plunge. Around the time that he decided to start Dream Theatre, he was also expecting his first child, which was another motivation, says Jiggy. One of the first private brands launched under the Dream Theatre umbrella is Beebop. The Beebop brand sells products for kids like toys and accessories, they are targetted at children in the age group of 0-5 years.
Today three-and-half-years down the line, Dream Theatre has managed to put over 40 SKUs across 1000 stores in the country. They also have presence across eCommerce stores. And do many on-ground co-branding activities for brands that they handle.
The most important mantra that Jiggy holds close to his heart is, “Do not dilute the core of the brand. All associations and partnerships that we enter into for the various brands have to be in line with the core qualities of the brand,” explains Jiggy. So if you’ve seen the Angry Birds pre-teens and teens range at footwear store Bata, then that is because Angry Birds as a brand appeals to that section of customers. And yes, you can thank Dream Theatre for bringing Angry Birds to India.
Jiggy says the licensing industry in India is still in its early days. “There are many fear factors of doing business in India. Cracking the distribution and sales channels is also not that easy,” explains Jiggy. His experience over the years working with these people, has however made things easier for Dream Theatre. And one thing he says, which we all would agree to is: “Entrepreneurs are very generous to fellow entrepreneurs,” — something we are not very sure is the case in the corporate world. This courage of conviction has also seen Jiggy and his team beat a few corporate players to win licensing deals – Rovio is a case in point.
While these are early days, Dream Theatre’s strategy would be to have a mixed bag of brands in their portfolio – evergreen characters, hot favourites and current fads. Celebrity merchandising is also something that Jiggy is keen to introduce. “Most licensing in India is still restricted to characters, but I believe there is an opportunity in celebrity merchandising as well,” he says.
Jiggy is supported by Jibi George, COO, Dream Theatre, Susmita Deo who heads marketing for the venture, and a team of 15 members who take care of various aspects of the business.
Dream Theatre relies on the BTL and the digital medium for marketing and advertising for the venture. As the startups’ work is dependant on the brands its handles, any activities that require promoting the brands either in online or offline medium is also undertaken.
Talking about the prospects of his business, Jiggy says that as avenues for entertainment increases, more and more consumers will aspire to own a product belonging to their favourite on-screen personality. The growth and reach of modern retail also offers more opportunities for a business like licensing, he says.