MICHELA MARCHESE PATTI & MAURIZIO DISTEFANO REVEAL THE SECRETS OF THEIR AGENCY’S SUCCESS
As the end of the first half of 2022 approaches, it is time for companies to take stock. How is the entertainment world changing? Which names will be the ones to watch in terms of property over the next few months? Maurizio Distefano and Michela Marchese Patti, founding partners of the Maurizio Distefano Licensing agency, explain how and why they have a reputation for spotting winners.
MLD ENT: Is there a secret to your success?
“The secret is the ability to understand the potential of each property or brand right from the start, to believe in it and to help it to grow.
“As far as we are concerned, that ability is the direct result of building a great deal of valuable experience over time – experience that has allowed us to plan a strategy that helps us to choose the properties and brands that are right for this agency. You could almost say that our background in this business has given us a sort of vast database of experience that helps and encourages us to pursue success – but never to forget the needs of the market. These are the factors that have made so many of our choices winning ones.”
MLD ENT: And this achievement has been recognized very recently…
“That’s right. Every year, License Global publishes an annual list of the best licensing companies and agents in the world based on turnover – and, according to the data, ours was the number one licensing agency in Italy, the second across Europe, and the 37th in the world. For us that result is very encouraging – confirming and rewarding our daily work and commitment, you might say. It’s also a great honour to be recognised by such an authoritative source in our industry.”
MLD ENT: Which direction are you going?
“The first half of the year went really well – in line with our expectations in fact, despite the upheavals we’re all living through at the moment. We are only too aware, for example, of price increases and the scarcity of raw materials. These are ongoing concerns for our licensees.
And of course, working has become increasingly complex in recent years, not least in the pandemic and post-pandemic era.
We must be able to establish priorities and organize the time that we have at our disposal – and I think that’s exactly what we are doing.”
MLD ENT: What are the goals for the next few months?
“The same as every year: our main goal is to satisfy the needs of our clients and partners. It’s not just about chasing numbers: our aim is always to guarantee we can provide an excellent service to the licensees and licensors we represent, to do an excellent job with the utmost professionalism.
Only by working with dedication and passion can you be sure you are going in the right direction. It’s the best way to get results.”
MLD ENT: Moving on to projects in the young adult target market, how did LIFE’s collaboration with Benetton and Clementoni come about?
“The project with Benetton [Michela says] came about thanks to a successful collaboration between the company and our product development people. Benetton is an international fashion brand with a strong, stylish, almost avant-garde image. LIFE had to be a perfect match for this brand. The strength of the project was down to the iconic nature of the LIFE images and the extraordinarily high level of awareness that comes with this famous magazine and its long history. The result was a beautiful collection for men, women and children: a showcase of the most beautiful images of LIFE that combined beautifully with the Benetton style and attitude.”
“Another project with LIFE was developed with Clementoni [Maurizio adds]. With this brand it was important to find a way to develop puzzles and products that had an adult and family appeal. In this regard it was interesting to explore how puzzles are no longer just about play; they can be seen as real design objects with an intrinsic value. It’s not just about the fun of putting the puzzle together. There’s a real joy in showing off these iconic photos.
Indeed, they are photographic works of art, like paintings.”
MLD ENT: Charlie Chaplin, Albert Einstein and Corto Maltese have recently expanded the agency’s offer in the celebrities category…
“These are iconic names known all around the world. We’re proud to have been chosen as agents for Italy for these properties. We are now working on projects that will open the door to some really interesting collaborations.
“Corto Maltese is a character brand with a strong image, a mix of artistic storytelling with elements of dreams, adventure and beauty. Charlie Chaplin and Albert Einstein are two people who changed the world with their ideas and discoveries. Iconic elements such as Chaplin’s bowler hat or walking stick are part of the style guide, of course, but used in innovative, high-impact and recognizable ways, ideal for personalizing product lines.”
MLD ENT: You’ve had enormous successes with your preschool property portfolio. What’s the news here?
“Moonbug Entertainment has entrusted our agency with the management of all its properties: CoComelon, Little Baby Bum, Blippi and My Magic Pet Morphle… These phenomenally successful YouTube-inspired brands have also been popular in other media by reflecting the changes in how kids access entertainment and thus have expanded the market into new areas.
“Bing, Masha and the Bear, Bluey, ALVINNN !!! and the Chipmunks and Gigantosaurus just keep on being successful. They’re very different from each other but all wildly popular with young viewers, and massive drivers for the success of the many companies on board as licensees.”
MLD ENT: But it’s not just about TV. What can you tell us about Charlotte M.?
“The versatility and professionalism of Charlotte M, despite her relative youth, make her perfect for a variety of projects. For example, at the moment she is voicing an important animated film that will be released in Q4 2022. And July will see the start of shooting of a new film where she will star as an actress and singer. This new film is expected to reach theatres in Q1 2023. As you can imagine, the flamingo fans are already very excited – and so are we!”