MGM’s Robert Marick champions the staying power of the Rocky franchise

Robert Marick, executive vice president global consumer products and experiences, speaks to LTW about the property’s long-standing popularity and MGMs plans for Rocky’s 45th anniversary year

Written by Georgie Dobie

Posted 17.06.2020 | Consumer Product

MGM’s Robert Marick champions the staying power of the Rocky franchise thumbnail

MGM is currently hosting its first ever Virtual Licensing Summit. An opportunity to share with its partners some exciting plans across its portfolio, attendees of the three-day event will get an overview of the breakout events and anniversaries that lie ahead, opportunities for collaboration, and a chance to ask questions. 

Rocky and Creed is one of the brands being presented at the Summit. And, with 2021 marking the 45th anniversary of the Rocky franchise, the property is hotter than ever!  

LTW.MEDIA’s Georgie Dobie spoke with Robert Marick, executive vice president global consumer products and experiences, MGM, about the long-standing popularity of the boxing drama franchise. Marick talks about some of his personal highlights for the franchise over the years and reveals some of MGM’s exciting plans to continue growing its second strongest merchandise programme. Read on to find out more!

Heading into 2021, Rocky is celebrating its 45th anniversary. What factors have contributed to Rocky’s long-standing popularity?

The Rocky franchise is a global phenomenon! The story has so many themes such as ambition, determination, courage, underdog etc., that translates across generations, demographics and cultures around the world. Everyday people can relate to Rocky in some shape, way or form. Today, more than ever, Rocky is beacon of hope and inspiration around the world. We see this manifest across all social media.

And what is it that makes Rocky such an interesting property for the world of licensing?

The property is unique as it provides multi-dimensional licensing opportunities. You can train, look and feel like a champion. Our licensing program is focused to rally the “everyday Rocky” to tap into their inner champion, celebrate champions in our communities, and give fans new ways to show their love for the Rocky franchise all year long.

Looking back over the years, what have been your highlights for the Rocky franchise?

Just like the Rocky character, the franchise and Sylvester Stallone, beat all the odds at the time as an up-and-coming writer, director and actor. The statistics are staggering. $1.3bn at the box office; three Academy Awards and 10 nominations; two Golden Globes across six films and two spin-offs with the Creed films. In this case, life-imitates-art. It’s a great story from any angle.

Which categories lend themselves particularly well to the Rocky franchise, and why?

If you want to “look like a champion”, apparel and accessories is a natural fit. For those that want to “train like a champion”, gym equipment and interactive games such as VR games, and workout systems allow fans to train like Rocky; If fans want to “feel like a champion” and show their fandom, publishing, collectables and replicas will deliver on that aspiration.

When we speak of ‘Rocky fans’, and the consumer for licensed Rocky products, who are we talking about? Given the age of the franchise, do you see different groups of fans? And if so, what impact does this have on the different opportunities for the franchise’s licensees?

As mentioned earlier, Rocky fans transcend age, gender and demographics, but at its core, Rocky appeals to predominantly males 18-49 – but women, of the same age, are close behind. Rocky is also a love story, and we find that this unlikely romance appeals to the romantics in all of us. This angle allows us to look at editorial and romantic poses that appeal to this message.

Can you tell us about some of the current Rocky partnerships that are proving particularly successful? In each instance, please discuss why you think they’re resonating so well with consumers.

Two stand out. First the Rocky Run and live experiential run in its seventh year unites fans from all over the world to Philadelphia, with like-minded fans, and for a day, step into the Rocky’s footsteps and are able to train, look and feel like a champion leading all the way up those famous stairs.

The second partnership is with the Rocky / Creed Rise to Glory VR game by Survios. It’s become an evergreen title, that similar to the Rocky Run, gives fans a chance to step in the ring and train and feel like a champion.

Tell us about some of the plans you have to promote and celebrate Rocky’s upcoming anniversary?

Plans are still in development, but suffice to say that we celebrating the 45th with a year-long celebration that includes content events, partnerships and fan engagement. Stay tuned for more details.

We understand that the team has some exciting plans for the merchandising programme. Can you tell us about some of the new partnerships that you have established to expand the Rocky offering? What can fans look forward to seeing from these new partnerships/collaborations?

Boxing/athleisure has been identified as a new fashion trend. Boxing remains mainstream, trendy and relevant for men and women and Rocky’s signature grey hoodie has made a major comeback. We are looking for key collaborations that can bring together two powerful brands. As for new categories to explore, we are looking at pet, jewellery accessories and location-based and live entertainment.

And what newness can we expect from licensees who are growing their Rocky offering ahead of the big anniversary?

In addition to some of our popular graphic programmes such as Reflections and Redemption, we are building out a new graphics programme for the 45th that will include new 45th logos and branding elements. It will be available later this summer. All the graphics will provide design inspiration for every aspect of the Rocky brand.

What do you have planned for Creed for the second half of the year and beyond?

I am excited to share that the hit, Creed: Rise to Glory VR game will be available on console platforms in autumn.

What can you tell us about your plans for Rocky that will really help to whet the appetite of those attending MGM’s Licensing Summit?

Let me go back to the point that I mentioned at the beginning. Rocky is a multi-dimensional property. That, coupled with the fact that the younger audience is leaning into experiences more than ever, allows us to expand how the brand evolves in day-to-day lives. At the Virtual Summit, our goal is to amplify the “Train, Look and Feel” like a champion and show how the property can translate from merchandise, to interactive games to location and live based entertainment.

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