9 Story Media Group Acquires Brown Bag Films
9 Story Media Group announced this morning that it has acquired animation studio Brown Bag Films. Brown Bag Films employs 170 creative and production staff and is known for producing hit animated children’s series including Octonauts, Doc McStuffins, Bing Bunny, and Henry Hugglemonster. It is headquartered in Dublin, has a studio in Manchester, and an office in Los Angeles. This is the first acquisition for 9 Story following an equity investment from media entrepreneur Neil Court and ZMC, Zelnick Media Capital last year. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Brown Bag Films will retain its brand, with Cathal Gaffney, founder and CEO of Brown Bag Films, Darragh O’Connell, founder and creative director, and the senior management team, continuing to lead the company. Brown Bag Films plans to hire an additional 50 staff in the near future as the company looks to reach new markets with its content.
Founded in 1994 by Gaffney and O’Connell, Brown Bag Films is renowned for its rich heritage in 3-D animation and content, which includes producing four of the top-10 preschool TV series in the U.S. and entertaining 100 million kids across the globe. 9 Story Media Group is known as an industry-leading 2-D animator, with one of the largest studios in North America, and a global distribution division.
Baby, Beauty Additions to CES 2016
Beauty Tech and Baby Tech, a special two-day series of showcases and panel discussions, is launching at CES 2016. It will focus on technology for the beauty and baby product industries. The latest tech advancements shaping the future of these industries will be on display at the Venetian Ballroom in Las Vegas on January 6–7, 2016.
Within the Beauty Tech showcase, attendees can expect to see an array of digital innovations including:
- Augmented and virtual reality beauty experiences
- Tools for skin and hair analysis
- Dermatological enhancements
- Age-detection analysis
- Massage treatments
- Professional advice from tech beauty experts
Baby Tech showcases the products and services that are revolutionizing early-stage parenting, providing technology assistance from the womb through the toddler years.
At CES, Baby Tech explores the best of breed, the new retail opportunities, the characteristics of today’s parents (and grandparents), and the remarkable power of using tech to quantify a baby’s life. That includes:
- Smartphone-enabled fertility monitors and sonograms
- Bluetooth-enabled devices, from smart pacifiers to smart baby bottles
- Strollers with GPS capabilities
- Sensor-filled infant car seats
The Beauty Tech and Baby Tech showcases will be open to CES attendees. On Monday, January 6, panels on the center stage will focus on Beauty Tech, and on Tuesday, January 7, Baby Tech.
Companies interested in having a presence within the new showcases, or experts interested in speaking on a panel, can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (201) 564–7900. For more information, visit CESweb.org.
Families May Trim Back to School Spending
The National Retail Federation (NRF) is reporting that parents are heading into this back-to-school season evaluating what their children really need before spending on new items. According to NRF’s Back-to-School Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the average family with children in grades K–12 plans to spend $630.36 on electronics, apparel, and other school needs, down slightly from $669.28 spent last year. Total spending is expected to reach $24.9 billion. Additionally, indicating the continued growth in the back-to-school arena, families on average have spent 42 percent more on school items over the past 10 years.
“As seen over the last 13 years, spending on back to school has consistently fluctuated based on children’s needs each year, and it’s unlikely most families would need to restock and replenish apparel, electronics, and supplies every year,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay, in a statement. “Parents this summer will inventory their children’s school supplies and decide what is needed and what can be reused, which just makes good budgeting sense for families with growing children.”
The NRF did report that consumers are feeling more confident. The survey found 40.6 percent of those who say the economy is impacting their spending plans will look for sales more often, down from the 46.2 percent last year and the lowest since NRF began tracking this in 2009. Additionally, 29.8 percent will buy more generic or store brand products, down from 34 percent last year and another survey low.
For those who have to restock what their children need for school, 92.7 percent will purchase new apparel, spending an average of $217.82, though most (94.1 percent) will head out for new school supplies, spending an average of $97.74; families will also spend $117.56 on new shoes.
In 2014, 58.3 percent of parents said they would buy electronics for their school-age children, and planned to spend an average of $212.35—one of the highest amounts seen in the survey’s history, says the NRF. Having less of a need for electronics this year, however, families said they would decrease their spending on gadgets for their children and will spend an average of $197.24.
More families with children in grades K–12 are opting to wait before rushing out to shop. According to the survey, 19.6 percent will shop at least two months before school, down from 22.5 percent last year. Starting a little later this year, two in five (42.8 percent) will shop at least three weeks to one month before school, down slightly from 44.5 percent last year. More families (30.3 percent) will shop one to two weeks before school, up from 25.4 percent last year.
When asked why they begin shopping for back to school at least two months out, 64.9 percent said they shop early to spread out their budgets, and half (51.1 percent) do so to avoid crowds associated with school shopping. Other popular reasons include not wanting to miss out on popular merchandise (21.5 percent) and prices and promotions being too good to pass up (45.3 percent).
Planning to shop around for their school merchandise, families will head to their local department (56.4 percent), discount (62.2 percent), clothing (53.5 percent), electronics (22.4 percent), and office supply stores (35.9 percent). And slightly more than one-third (35.6 percent) of those looking for school items will shop online.
For the first time, NRF asked about shoppers’ intentions to use retailers’ omnichannel offerings; of those planning to shop online, nearly half (48.4 percent) say they will take advantage of retailers’ buy online, pick up in-store or ship-to-store options, and 17.3 percent will look for expedited shipping offers. Nine in 10 (92.1 percent) will take advantage of retailers’ free shipping offers.
Power Rangers in Dubai Summer Surprises
Saban Brands has partnered with Millennium Entertainment International (MEI) for a new initiative in the EMEA region. The two companies have created a first-of-its-kind live Power Rangers experience, which will launch at The Dubai Mall. Kicking off with a Power Rangers Super Megaforce experience, this marks the first Dubai presence for the iconic superhero brand and will include a Power Rangers Academy training session for kids, an interactive live performance, and an authentic Power Rangers memorabilia exhibit.
The debut Power Rangers experience will feature Saban’s Power Rangers Super Megaforce in a weeklong engagement at The Dubai Mall as part of the Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS), a much-awaited annual family extravaganza organized by the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment, an agency of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. DSS 2015, which was launched on July 23, runs until September 5 under the theme 45 Days of Summer.
This is the first Power Rangers live experience with MEI, with plans to grow and bring the live experience to several other international markets, according to Saban.