November 9, 2016

The saga of female superheroes and licensing

In between the marketing for release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, merchandise had been showing up everywhere. While Captain America and Iron Man were leading the rooster of licensed merchandise space, closely followed by Thor and Hulk, one Avenger has been largely absent – Black Widow.A similar saga was portrayed ...

By Licence India Bureau

In between the marketing for release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, merchandise had been showing up everywhere. While Captain America and Iron Man were leading the rooster of licensed merchandise space, closely followed by Thor and Hulk, one Avenger has been largely absent – Black Widow.

A similar saga was portrayed during the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, when the entire licensing program was modeled around both the male superheroes, while third superhero – Wonder Woman didn’t find place in retail strategies. The woman of Suicide Squad (Harley Quinn) was not highlighted much as compared to her male counterparts.

The curious case of L&M industry missing out on female superhero centric merchandise has been puzzling the consumer after which Marvel introduced four new female characters including lady Thor and Spider woman. Also, DC Entertainment, have teamed up with Mattel to launch a new multi-platform superhero universe aimed at female fans.

Agreeing to the dearth of female characters especially in animation industry, Ashish S. Kulkarni, also Chairman of FICCI for Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics Forum said, “There were female superheroes, but they were not the lead characters. What has happened in the past was that people only looked at the main male characters and the whole television programming and animation is also boy-centric. And that’s why people feel that the kids would want to look at that option.”

“Also, because boys are hooked up with a lot of gaming hence, extension is possible there. But we feel that the gaming opportunity exists with girl characters also; instead of girls watching GEC at that age, if they are able to look up at their own content at that age,” he added.

believes to make a mark in the male-centric television programming and animation industry with Mary Kom Jr.  Kulkarni emphasised that although the story will be based on Mary Kom, with a focus on Manipur, they plan to include other characters as well for universal appeal.

The reasoning behind leaving female characters especially superheroes out of a lot of merchandise is the notion that ‘no boy wants to be given a product with a female character on it. Boys have been the target market for the toys; what girls might want wasn’t taken into consideration.

These exclusions occur frequently across various franchises, with a message that women may be heroes onscreen, but when it comes to licensed merchandise of the movies; it’s the men who should be saving the day.

While time and again the licensors have been questioned on retail visibility of female characters (with an exception of Disney Princess, Barbie) the industry has taken some steps in this direction. Voicing the same, Anand Singh, Director – South Asia, Turner International said, “We are orchestrating the licensing program for our upcoming movie on Wonder Woman.”

Also, strategizing around the re-launch of its iconic property Powerpuff Girls, Turner has re-launched complete back to school range the next year. “We have signed up a couple of exciting deals for PPG – for instance a deal with Myntra for PPG young adult line. The kind of experience we have with this property is that its audiences – the girls in 90’s, are all grown up now. So this range will cater to all girls and ladies who have grown up watching PPG,” added Singh.

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