Interview with Philippe Bost, VP of international consumer products, Activision Blizzard at BLE 2018

The main Activision Blizzard’s novelties for the next season.

BM: Could you tell me more on Activision Blizzard Consumer Products Group international growth? Which territories are your main focus?

We see great growth potential internationally, as our games enjoy strong support around the world. Our strategy is to continue to develop opportunities with the international market in mind, particularly in Europe, and across Asia and Latin America on behalf of properties such as Activision’s Call of Duty and Crash Bandicoot and Blizzard’s Overwatch.

Our expansion efforts include a mix of different business models, depending on the market. Some of the tools in our arsenal for international growth are Licensing (including retail partnerships), esports, gear store and fan stores.

 BM: Who are your global partners? Strategy of global partners vs. local partners?

We know that each market is unique and different types of experiences tend to resonate in different markets. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, we go to great lengths to understand our consumers in each market and deliver experiences that best meet their distinct tastes and interests.

We’ve enjoyed very successful relationships internationally with retailers like Primark and UNIQLO. In collaboration with UNIQLO, we launched an apparel program spanning across all properties from Blizzard Entertainment. The exclusive spring/summer collection launched globally in May and sold very well for us.

Primark is another strong partner for us in Europe. We are now working with the popular clothing and accessories retailer on an exclusive collection that offers a full range of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 apparel.

 BM: How different partnerships allow fans to interact with Activision and Blizzard IPs more than videogames?

We see real opportunity in building our Franchises of the Future and are focused on a multi-platform approach that drives fan engagement – through gameplay, linear storytelling, esports events and consumer products. This affords us immense opportunities, and Activision Blizzard Consumer Products Group’s goal is to provide fans ways to play, display, wear and live the brands they love.

All our games and characters have iconic voices, styles and stories, and it’s important to us – and our community – that we capture and represent that in our licensed products. Our game developers, including artists and designers, work closely with best-in-class licensees to create high quality and deeply relevant merchandise that we think our global gaming audience will connect with and truly enjoy. These kinds of experiences engage our fans beyond gameplay and create meaningful touchpoints.

BM: How much important is esports for ABCPG? What opportunities esports presents from a licensing perspective?

Esports has emerged as a significant growth opportunity that engages millions of players and spectators around the world and is a priority focus for Activision Blizzard’s merchandise.

Esports enjoys strong viewership, particularly online where most millennials and Gen Z’s are viewing content. With the Overwatch League, for instance, 10 million viewers watched the 12 inaugural teams compete during the opening week of Season 1.

We expect that the Overwatch League audience will continue to expand steadily, which translates into consumer demand for league and team-branded merchandise, including apparel and other categories that are tied to traditional sports and esports. While most major sports leagues are experiencing a steady increase in the age of their average viewer, esports is a magnet for the 18–24 demo, which suggests we are only at the beginning of a licensing trend we expect will dominate the landscape during the next 10 years.

Our plan is to deliver an epic merchandise program for Overwatch League fans. To that end, our vision, particularly in apparel, is to create a line that is tailor-made for gamers. With the Overwatch League, gamers have their first-ever, major local-city-based esports league, and we intend to maximize the potential of local style, trends, and designs in our products to provide fans with unique products that they will be proud to wear.

Finally, we are expanding from 12 to 20 Teams in Season 2, including Toronto, Paris or 3 teams in China. We can now say that OWL is becoming a truly global esports competition.

BM: Call of Duty. Who are the licensing partners and how do you enhance the game-play experience through them?

With the introduction of new partnerships such as BAIT, Supra, Hype and New Era and adding to the likes of preexisting partners including Mattel, Astro and Kontrol Freek, the Call of Duty community will now have increased opportunities to interact with the franchise 365 days a year. Fans can look forward to more premiere, fashion-forward brand collaborations in celebration of and following the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.

Key EURO licensees include: Rubber Road, Primark, Pyramid, EXG, Poetic Brands, EMP, Comic Studio SunCity, dreamtex, Kokomo, Park Agencies and Paladone.

BM: Call of Duty beyond the videogames: How key lifestyle partnerships serve to engage fans at various touchpoints throughout the year?

The Call of Duty brand is an entertainment force with an amazing and passionate community around the world. With the global release of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 on Oct. 12, our goal is to drive programs that extend fans’ excitement beyond the game with some of the strongest, most culturally relevant properties in the entertainment industry. The expansion of ABCPG’s collaborations with global partners will aid in building and sustaining excitement as the roster of products extends into new and untapped categories, including apparel, collectibles, and footwear.

BM: How the licensing strategy for Call of Duty is expanding internationally?

We are expanding the Call of Duty brand into new categories in the lifestyle space through premier collaborations around the world, with a focus on the global market. Key partnerships include:

  • Primark Exclusive Apparel: Primark DTR, the popular Irish clothing and accessories retailer, brings a full range of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 apparel for fans, which includes T-shirts, Sweatshirts, Joggers, Underwear, Sleepwear, Loungewear, Socks, Hats, Gloves, Scarves and Slippers. Available in-store now, globally.
  • Hype: In collaboration with the UK streetwear brand Hype, Call of Duty fans can purchase exclusive items from the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Capsule Range from Oct. 12. Featuring T-Shirts, Hoodies, Jackets, Jogging Bottoms, Bags, Headwear, Lanyards and Scarves, the Black Ops 4 Capsule Range will be available to purchase online and at various high street fashion stores across Europe.
  • Supra: Capsule Collection: The exclusive Supra Capsule Collection features limited edition shoes, in addition to a brand new Call of Duty long sleeve t-shirt and hoodie. Sale goes live Oct. 15 via the Supra online store.
  • BAIT: Call of Duty Capsule Collection: The BAIT Call of Duty Capsule Collection spotlights Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Zombies with two limited edition Zombies inspired t-shirts and can be purchased at the BAIT San Diego Store and online.