Nelvana rebrands and refocuses

President Scott Dyer on why his company is doubling down on strong stories and shifting away from a merch-first strategy.
Copied from Kidscreen - Mysti-Cons

Nelvana, Corus Entertainment’s production and distribution arm, has unveiled a renewed focus on content timed with this week’s MIPCOM market in Cannes, France. 

“Corus went through a major rebranding after the acquisition of Shaw Media,” Nelvana president Scott Dyer told Playback sister publication Kidscreen. “And so we designed a new logo that was very reflective of the Corus one. The new logo really symbolizes a little bit of a new approach at Nelvana.”

That approach involves a sharpened focus on storytelling and characters. Dyer said Nelvana will step away from the trend of merchandise-based properties and instead work to become a haven for creators. By developing content-driven brands, Dyer said Nelvana will be able to better engage audiences and boost ratings.

“It doesn’t mean these properties won’t drive merchandise at some point,” he said. “But we really think story and character should come first, and merchandise second. We haven’t seen a big push in legislation globally, but we can expect that the discomfort with what are essentially 30-minute commercials to continue. Our focus is on making great shows.”

In fact, Dyer believes this new focus will lead to even greater success for Nelvana merchandising, and added good storytelling fuels consumer product success. These opportunities, he said, are more natural and more likely to be viable in the long-term, as Nelvana works to create more evergreen brands like Babar and Franklin.

Additionally, Nelvana will take on more third-party brands to ensure the consumer products group continues to be relevant, as long-term moves are made to focus on creator-driven content.

New team members were recently brought on-board to help Nelvana make the transition. Pam Westman joined as head of Nelvana Enterprises in May, followed by recent hire Athena Georgaklis (head of development) and Antoine Erligmann (head of Nelvana EMEA). Senior financial personnel have also been added to the team, as well as additional producers to strengthen the studio side.

These changes come as Nelvana prepares a number of major shows for broadcast in 2017. Mysticons (Nickelodeon, pictured), Hotel Transylvania: The Series (Disney), Bravest Warriors (from the creator of Adventure Time) and Sesame Workshop’s new original series Esme and Roy, which will premiere on Corus’ Treehouse in Canada and HBO in the U.S. Additional projects with pre-attached distribution in the U.S. or globally are currently in the works, Dyer said, for both traditional broadcast and OTT platforms.

“We believe this year we’ll probably see twice what we did last year in terms of overall shows, and we’d like to build to a level that is maybe 150 to 175 half-hours each year,” he said. “We’re also trying to increase our mix of 2D and 3D shows. There’s some pretty exciting 3D work coming that I think will really push the envelope for us. We’ve also done less in Europe and globally recently than I think we will in the future. I think you’ll see more co-productions, and you’ll see more global reach.”

From Kidscreen