Licensing Magazine interviewed Jeremy Zag, CEO and Founder of the global leading content factory, Zag Entertainment, to learn more on their major novelties and next plans.
Can you give as an overview of ZAG’s current content?
Our vision at ZAG is to create high-quality content that empowers kids around the world that speaks to them as peers, and with Miraculous – Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir, we hit the mark. There’s something for everyone in Miraculous, whether it is the slapstick humor or superhero action for the younger kids, or the romantic storylines for preteens, parents approve and love to watch as a family. And when we rolled out season four last year, audiences were thrilled to learn that we promoted Cat Noir from side kick to accomplice, which consolidated our average audience to a near 50/50 girl/boy split. Miraculous is now broadcast in over 120 territories and statistically we see that no matter the territory, our figures do not waiver, every market is strong. Fans around the world are eager for the fall rollout of season 5, and our upcoming US$100+ million animated feature, Miraculous Ladybug and Cat Noir: The Movie, the origin story to the TV series, which we anticipate will also attract a whole new audience.
Ghostforce is our newest series, aimed at kids and families, that follows three junior high school students who form a secret team to defend their city from the ghosts haunting it. New York is the perfect icon for the series to be anchored with its emblematic backgrounds, the subway, the Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park. Featuring breathtaking animation that draws in the audience and keeps them coming back for more, Ghostforce has achieved a high level of popularity in many countries, and especially in France and Germany where it often garners #1 ratings. In France for example, when back-to-back episodes were added to the schedule, Ghostforce ratings catapulted to Miraculous levels. In Eastern Europe, we mirrored this strategy and now Miraculous and Ghostforce often garner the #1 and #2 slots.
Looking ahead, fans can expect to see more of both series! Plus, we are in pre-production on the animated musical feature Melody that I will direct, that features Katy Perrry as the lead voice-talent who will also co-write and perform the songs. And we recently signed a 10-movie deal with Cross Creek Pictures based on ZAG’s IP – these will be a mix of animated, live-action and hybrid features, one of which will be a live-action Ghostforce feature!
With our new studios in Paris and our strong partnerships, we have significantly ramped up our production capabilities and resources to create content we love to make.
You recently announced ZAG Play – can you explain this new structure?
Most recently we created a new division within ZAG, ZAG Play, that focuses on developing engaging stories beyond the screen into brands! ZAG Play encompasses our licensing and merchandising, promotions and gaming businesses, and a newly launched toy sub-division, all led by Julian Zag, EVP Global Operations and Head of ZAG Play.
Our licensing and merchandising activities are led by a group of seasoned and dedicated executives including our SVP of Licensing in the U.S., Lisa Foster; Angela Cortez, VP for Latin America; Carlotta Caracciolo, VP, Middle East and Africa; and our newly appointed Head of Consumer Products for Europe, Luca Bonecchi. Collectively, our licensing teams manage a roster of 450+ licensees for Miraculous all around the world, bringing all types of engaging quality products to our fans.
Our gaming division is led by Elinor Schopps, VP of Games & Interactive Experiences. Last year, we brought Miraculous to Roblox – it was the first time that a TV series had a presence on the platform. Since launch, there have been over 400 million plays of Miraculous RP: Quests of Ladybug & Cat Noir.
This group has been working on several new games that will launch later this year and early next, including Miraculous: Rise of the Sphynx, the first Miraculous console game, to be published by GameMill Entertainment, a new sandbox app, and a puzzle game.
Our global partnership activities are led by Hyde Schram who serves as VP of the division. Since joining the company, Hyde has negotiated some fantastic partnerships with globally renowned companies, some of which I cannot yet disclose as they will be announced close to the movie release. However, we currently have a Happy Meal promotion across EMEA with McDonalds, featuring sustainably sourced premiums; and earlier this year, we had a global promotion with Burger King.
The new toy division is led by Helena Perheentupa, who serves as SVP, and who is tasked with creating imaginative and complementary products to those of our licensees, for example toy products that due to economies of scale, are not viable at the regional level for licensing partners, but with global retail placement, we will reach critical mass to manufacture them. Together with our partners, the new ZAG Play toy division will offer fans a wider range of inventive and original toys for fans to engage with our brands.
Can you speak to your anti-piracy activities and how these activities support your licensing partners.
Yes, our goal is to protect our content, our brands, and the products of our licensing partners, and to achieve this, we have set up one of the most comprehensive anti-piracy programs that covers more than 200 platforms across the globe. We are removing thousands of products every month with the result that our licensees are recapturing these sales.
Could you explain a little more about your E-Commerce division and how you are supporting your licensees?
For the last 12 months, we have invested in bringing online support to all of our partners. We have a dedicated e-commerce team, led by Christophe Vallade, who is providing tailor made support to every licensee. The department works closely with licensees on improving listings, online advertising and brand support, and addressing stock issues. We have Miraculous and Ghostforce online shop-in-shops offering the most extensive product lines from our partners. By the end of the year, we’ll have 26 shops live across 17 countries!
Do you have anything else you would like to share?
I’d just like to add that we are so appreciative of all of our partners, and the passionate and dedicated team at ZAG. It is with their hard work and support that together we can create content for families around the globe that helps children to learn to discover themselves through compelling storytelling, relatable characters, and first class production.