Joan Grasso

Joan is the VP, Licensing for North America at Entertainment One

How long have you been a WIT Member?
I have been a member for over 5 years, with the New York Chapter.

What route did you take to get into the licensing industry?
I was a marketing major and landed at a division of Mattel working on licensed toy brands. I was so interested in the industry, I made a transition to the licensing side of the business about halfway through my career.

Tell us a great story about one of the brands you’ve worked with.
Peppa Pig is one of the most fascinating brands I have worked on. It is an unusual property in that it is successful in every territory where we have a program around the world. Not many other brands can say this. When first launched in the US, the program was small and was not as strong as some of her competition. It was hard to get anyone’s attention or close licensing deals in an effort to build the program. About three years in, we received stronger broadcast support, which had a direct correlation to strong sales results. We began to see the property build slowly over time. Needless to say, the property is now one of the largest preschool brands in the market and continues to perform well at retail. It just goes to show that a little patience and a lot of perseverance go a long way in this business!

What are the challenges that face the licensing industry today?
There is so much new content being launched in an already crowded space, even though there are more options for broadcast placement now. But to make things even more challenging we continue to see the retail landscape erode. You have to be creative and forward thinking in your approach to building your brands in order to overcome these obstacles.

Tell us about a hurdle you faced and how you got over it.
I come across hurdles everyday in my current role. The best way to overcome any obstacle is to weigh your options, choose what you believe to be the best course of action, and follow through on that. If you stay focused, you will be able to attain the desired end goal.

What are your top tips for someone wishing to get into the licensing industry?
Network and speak to as many people as you can about what is happening in the market. I’ve learned more about the current state of our industry just by talking to colleagues and business partners. Making connections and staying in touch with your contacts is critical to being successful in any business.

What’s your favorite productivity tip?
Check email only two or three times a day. Otherwise, you will become a slave to it and never tackle those big projects which are most critical to creating a successful brand or property.