WildBrain CPLG, a global leader in entertainment, sports, and brand licensing, is expanding its global strategy, beginning with a focus on Asia Pacific (APAC). Its new location-based entertainment (LBE) company will develop opportunities for the firm’s franchise brands, such as Teletubbies and In the Night Garden, and partner brands which include Peanuts and PLAYMOBIL.
The LBE company launch follows the announcement of a series of major partnerships and projects with Max-Matching, one of the leading international entertainment companies in Asia. Max-Matching is a highly regarded developer, investor and operator of international cultural and IP visitor attractions.
WildBrain CPLG welcomes Kevin Suh & Evi Sari
Kevin Suh is collaborating with WildBrain CPLG to develop the global LBE strategy. A veteran licencing executive, Suh’s responsibilities include driving significant opportunities around the world from his base in Los Angeles.
Suh was formerly president of themed entertainment and consumer products at Paramount Pictures, where he oversaw location-based entertainment worldwide for all Paramount Global brands. This included Paramount Pictures, CBS, Nickelodeon, and others, with key franchises including SpongeBob SquarePants, Star Trek, PAW Patrol, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
He was responsible for more than 20 Paramount Global-branded entertainment locations and programmes around the world, including theme parks, hotels and resorts, restaurants, retail companies, and stage performances. Suh also has experience as a senior executive at the Motion Picture Association of America and as a lawyer.
In addition, WildBrain CPLG welcomes Evi Sari to the senior leadership team in China as vice president of location-based entertainment. Sari is based in Shanghai and will manage the agency’s LBE strategy in APAC and the GCC. This role includes responsibility for driving regional prospects for WildBrain’s franchise brands, such as Teletubbies, Strawberry Shortcake, Inspector Gadget, and In the Night Garden, as well as third-party brands like Peanuts and PLAYMOBIL.
Sari has been working on diverse entertainment projects for over 15 years. Her experience ranges from cultural attractions and theme parks to resorts and family entertainment centres (FECs) with worldwide IP studios and significant state-owned developers. She was previously the vice president of Location-Based Experiences at Paramount (ViacomCBS), where she was in charge of developing partnerships to turn Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, MTV, and CBS franchises into real-world experiences across Asia.
Maarten Weck, WildBrain CPLG’s EVP & MD, comments: “Location-based entertainment creates another tool for brands in our 360-degree offering as part of the global WildBrain organisation, bolstering our integrated capabilities across content creation, audience engagement and global licensing. LBE is a fast-growing segment globally, with APAC being a key opportunity, and we have big ambitions in this space.
“With Kevin’s global LBE experience and Evi’s highly impressive expertise in APAC, we’re perfectly placed to help brands capitalise on the significant and growing opportunities this sector presents.”
Themed hotel rooms & FECs
The firm has been developing new projects in China, with deals being agreed on behalf of Peanuts Worldwide for Peanuts, and WildBrain Ltd. for Teletubbies and In the Night Garden with Max-Matching. FECs and IP-themed hotel rooms will also be developed for each brand in Beijing, Zhongshan City, Guangdong, and a further city.
The IP activations are scheduled to roll out over five years and will be among the features of brand-new shopping, entertainment, and leisure venues in Beijing and Zhongshan. These initiatives will include IP experiences in sizable mixed-use commercial developments created for Chinese families to interact with treasured entertainment brands.
Max Matching is a major LBE licensee in China and with fast growth in the Asia Pacific region. The firm’s comprehensive knowledge of the China market and its consumers ensures long-term success, as data and creative solutions provide seamless product adaption, curation, development, and execution. The projects will energise vital areas of the region.
The FECs will be part of the planned Beijing Municipal Administrative Centre Cultural Tourism Area. This will include a new 100-hectare retail and entertainment complex, close to the Universal Beijing Resort. The FEC in Zhongshan will be part of the waterfront commercial development, which will feature high-rise towers, a convention centre, five-star hotels, and luxury homes. This location is under development in the Greater Bay Area, a special economic zone in South China which connects 11 cities, including Hong Kong, Macao, and Shenzhen.
Opportunities in the APAC region
The announcement comes at a time when LBE opportunities in the APAC region are expanding rapidly. AECOM’s 2021 China Theme Park Pipeline Update states that China is now the world’s second-largest theme park market, and this rate of growth will likely continue. 80 new theme parks are set to open by 2025, representing a combined sector investment of around US $47bn.
“We’re delighted to partner with Max-Matching on LBE activations in China for Peanuts, Teletubbies and In the Night Garden,” says Sari. “They are an organization with a deep understanding of international IP and high-quality, location-based entertainment, as well as strong strategic relationships and cooperation agreements with major developers and government stakeholders.
“Their new projects have premium locations in Beijing and Zhongshan, making them ideal destinations for children and families to visit and enjoy popular entertainment brands. Our new LBE business is off to a great start, as we continue to enhance WildBrain CPLG’s offering to brands and partners around the world.”
Owen Zhao, president of Max-Matching, adds: “Max-Matching is committed to bringing world-level top IP experiences to China. We are immensely proud to announce our collaboration with WildBrain CPLG, who bring deep expertise in IP licensing and a strong understanding of what it takes to interpret beloved IPs such as Peanuts, Teletubbies and In the Night Garden into real-world experiences to establish strong emotional connections with guests.
“With the rapid development of China’s economy and rising demand for high-quality leisure and entertainment experiences, Max-Matching is excited to explore further collaborations with WildBrain CPLG on outdoor theme parks, FECs, themed hotel rooms, themed F&B and retail. We look forward to potentially expanding our partnership in the future to create diverse branded offerings that will be anchor family attractions in urban mixed-use destinations in China.”
WildBrain CPLG is the first global licencing firm to offer in-house LBE services. The announcement follows the agency’s recent APAC growth, which included new locations and teams in Seoul, Taipei, Manila, Bangkok, Mumbai, and Singapore, as well as an extension of its existing Shanghai team.