Meet Endemol Shine North America’s Vice President of Licensing Scott Shillet

Scott Shillet on Endemol Shine North America’s most challenging IP

Scott Shillet, you’ve just been promoted to Vice President, Licensing; Endemol Shine North America. Congratulations! How did you get into the industry?
Thank you very much. Like many others, my introduction into licensing came about fortuitously. My first job out of college was working as a business analyst at the now defunct retail chain Steve & Barry’s…

I don’t think we had it in the UK – but that was what? A clothing and footwear chain?
Right – clothes, footwear and accessories. But in addition to being a retailer, they were a licensee for various entertainment, collegiate and celebrity brands. When a role opened on their licensing team, I jumped at the chance to transition from looking at invoices all day to working with our creative team. We developed apparel and accessories for brands like WWE and Marvel, and celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker and Venus Williams.

Scott Shillet, Endemol Shine
So if you hadn’t jumped at the chance, what do you think you’d be doing instead of this?

I always wanted to do something creative, but unfortunately I can barely even draw a stick figure! My sister got all of the artistic genes… What I like about licensing is that it affords me the ability to be creative in different ways, like ideating innovative partnerships, infusing unique storytelling into a product, etc. If I hadn’t chosen this career, or fallen into it, I’d probably be doing something similar in Marketing or Advertising – where I could be creative without having to actually draw anything.

Sounds like we share an artistic talent! You’ve previously worked on products and shows for MasterChef, Wipeout, Deal or No Deal and many more… When an opportunity arises, where do you start? What does the creative process look like?
The first step is always determining if the opportunity is a good fit for the brand and aligns with our strategic vision and the brand’s DNA. If those boxes are checked, we then work closely with our partner by providing guidance, assets, and insights from a brand perspective to ensure the final product is something that fans of that particular franchise would enjoy and want to purchase and/or experience.

“These are sometimes the most fun and rewarding IP’s to work on…”

And what kind of IP presents you with the most challenge?
The types of IP that are the most challenging to work with are the ones that are so niche and unique that it’s difficult to conceptualise what product categories would make sense from a licensing perspective. However, these are sometimes the most fun and rewarding IP’s to work on.

Scott Shillet, Endemol Shine

Can you give us an example?
Well, when I worked at Classic Media one of the brands in our portfolio was Lamb Chop. Most people couldn’t envision how a puppet from 1960 could successfully translate to consumer products, but we identified pet toys as a potential category that could work. Now, 12 years later, you can still find Lamb Chop dog and cat toys at almost every pet store.

That’s a great example! Thank you. I read recently that you’d described Endemol’s partners as “best-in-class”. What do you look for in a potential partner, though?
Since we’re entrusting them with our most valuable asset, our IP, we look for partners with high values, morals, and ethics; partners who’ll produce high-quality products that represent our brands in the best possible light. In the eyes of many consumers, it’s actually MasterChef or Peaky Blinders that are manufacturing that mug, t-shirt, or whatever…

The brand is responsible…
Exactly. So any issues with quality would reflect poorly on us and be extremely detrimental to our brand. It also helps if the partner has an affinity for the IP and a true understanding of its ethos.

Terrific. Conversely, then, what’s the one quality you hate to see in a partner?
Fortunately, we have great licensees and don’t have to worry about this.

Scott Shillet, Endemol Shine

Yes – and that’s because you choose carefully! But when you’re considering a partner…
Well, there are two qualities I consider red flags when evaluating a potential partner. One is what we call “label/logo slapping” in our industry. This is when a licensee takes your logo and slaps it onto an existing product without taking the brand’s attributes and values into consideration.

Right; a very generic “That’ll do!” approach…
The other would be a lack of communication and transparency. At the end of the day, we’re working together towards a common goal, so we look for licensees who share that belief and are partners in the truest sense of the word.

Excellent, thank you. You mentioned earlier that your not creative in an artistic way. What keeps you professionally creative, though?
I’m constantly inspired by creative licensed partnerships and collaborations that I see in our industry. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, there’s a new innovative product or nontraditional partnership that makes you say, “How did nobody ever think of that before?”

“Just when you think you’ve seen it all, there’s a new innovative product or nontraditional partnership…”

Similarly, when you’re stuck for ideas or direction, what’s your go-to strategy? What’s the one approach or technique that almost always pays off for you?
Retail store checks are one approach to help spark ideas. That’s when we visit a bunch of retailers and literally walk the aisles looking for inspiration for new categories that would make sense for our brands, or new partners to work with.

Scott Shillet, Endemol Shine
Another strategy is to go directly to the source and listen to what the fans are saying on social media, message boards and so on. I recently used screen grabs from Twitter to show a licensee there was strong demand amongst Peaky Blinders fans for a collaboration with their product – which I am happy to say will now be launching in 2022.

Great! I’d love to hear more about that if you’re happy to come back after it launches! And I’m curious: are there any areas of licensing you’d like to see shaken up a bit?
One area I’d like to see improved upon would be education and awareness of licensing as a career. While Licensing International offers some great resources like Coursework in Licensing Studies, or CLS, and Stu Seltzer teaches a very popular Brand Licensing class at NYU, it’d be great for licensing to be more widely taught in colleges and universities as a potential career option.

Interesting answer. Very interesting! Scott, we need to start wrapping this up but let me finish on this: what’s the one question I should have asked you but didn’t?
What’s my favourite Endemol Shine North America property?

I like it! And what’s the answer?
It’s a trick question. They’re all great!

Very good! Smoothly done Scott; thank you for making time to talk. I know you’re a busy man!

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