Toronto-based 9 Story Brands, the licensing division of 9 Story Media Group, has partnered with New York-based Retail Monster to expand four of its brands in the US—Colorforms, Ladybird Lu, Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum, and Karma’s World.
9 Story Brands will still head up licensing for the properties, but Retail Monster will focus on retail-specific sales and marketing strategies. Karma’s World is set to kick off the partnership, and the goal is to turn the recently greenlit series into one of the US market’s first big SVOD-to-merch brands.
Created by rapper and producer Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, and produced by 9 Story Media Group and Karma’s World Entertainment, Karma’s World (40 x 11 minutes) is a CG-animated musical coming-of-age story for kids ages six to nine. It premieres on Netflix this fall, and stars a young Black girl who finds her voice and uses it to change the world.
SVODs have become major kids content players in recent years. But from a consumer products perspective, discoverability continues to be an issue on the platforms, as does their penchant for releasing entire seasons in bulk, says Natalie Osborne, 9 Story Media Group’s chief strategy officer. As a result, many of the kids brands they offer aren’t accompanied by big L&M programs.
She adds that making sure Karma’s World is a retail hit is uncharted territory for 9 Story, which is why it teamed up with Retail Monster.
A licensing agent for kid brands including Paddington and YouTube kidfluencers Vlad and Niki, Retail Monster has close connections with retailers, which it will use to build out a cross-category marketing and activation plan to help the IP stand out on shelves, Osborne says.
For Retail Monster, the partnership is an opportunity to create one of the first big SVOD-to-retail brands, says founder and CEO Michael Connolly. Starting on the strategy early will help make the transition from screen to shelves more successful, he says, adding that there are plans to expand Karma’s World and 9 Story’s other brands into multiple categories, including toys and apparel.
Industry response to Karma’s World has been positive, and 9 Story has already parlayed that into global licensing deals with Scholastic and Mattel.
“We are investing in our own IPs in new ways to connect with kids everywhere they are today,” she says. “Working with Connolly and his team elevates our retail strategy, and ultimately the consumer experience with Karma’s World out of the gate.”