Licensing Magazine spoke with Susan Vargo, Head of Global Experiences, Moonbug Entertainment, to know more about the company’s strategies and innovations in the LBE sector.
How is Moonbug currently developing the LBE sector, and who are the characters most involved?
We are actively promoting experiences in Location-Based Entertainment across many verticals. We try to be everywhere kids and families go, from costume character appearances at fairs, festivals, and retail appearances to our global live tours, which are global events. In Autumn 2023 the Blippi Wonderful World Tour took place in several locations, including the United Kingdom, the US, South Africa and Dubai, and we definitely intend to bring it to even more countries in 2024.
We have a relationship with Merlin in Europe for theme parks, and we also have a variety of experiences and appearance programmes throughout Asia.
Our most popular brands in this category right now are undoubtedly CoComelon and Blippi, while we also have some activations for our newest brands Oddbods and Little Angel. We are constantly thinking about how location-based experiences may help market our new brands and properties.
What are Moonbug’s LBE plans and announcements for the coming year?
We have just inaugurated our first freestanding walkthrough attraction for Blippi and our first Family Entertainment Centre for CoComelon in Riyadh as part of the Riyadh Boulevard World and Boulevard City seasons. That’s another vertical in which we specialise in a light self-guided activity for families and children. We want to bring those launches from last autumn to new markets all across the world in 2024!
Continuing what we’re doing, while also expanding some of our existing partnerships into new spaces is a pretty important aim for us in 2024. I believe that the next evolution of that, and what I see from an industry wide standpoint, is that more brands, and certainly our brands, will be looking at alternative places to do business.
We’re looking into retailtainment, combining retail shops and entertainment FEC.
What is the impact of the LBE initiatives on product sales?
We can definitely improve the transactional nature of a consumer product purchase. One of the things we’ve started doing with partners in Asia with great success is creating stay and play parks, inflatable activation zones, or other experiences that really entertain the kids, which definitely deepens that relationship with the customer.We have also created pop up shops that may have custom products that you can only experience when you come to the inflatable playland.
In addition, visitors get the opportunity to meet our characters. It’s about truly superserving our fans and offering not only the product but also the experience and the moment to interact with the brand.
Over the last year, Location-Based Entertainment has risen at an exponential rate. What do you believe the next steps will be in this category?
I think that the most important aspect of the future of location-based experiences will be how technology and a one-to-one ratio of a fan interaction with a brand moves beyond that one day.
Whether it’s social media sharing of when that experience occurred, or a live tour that provides you something to do in advance.
Or in the case of an escape room, six weeks later the organization sends you a virtual version of the next escape room to keep you in that ecosystem. This extends the memory and the relationship between the fan and the brand across different categories of consumption through content creation, social media interaction, relationship creation, and on-the-ground activation.
I believe that’s where the future is headed: continuing to integrate what we do on the experience side into the rest of the ecosystem in order to keep our kids and families with us for longer and more satisfied.