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BarkBox’s Newest Brand Licensing Initiative to Feature Space Jam Sequel, Attract Basketball Fans

  • Jackson Reynosa - SUBTA
  • Jul 15, 2021
  • 5 minute read

BarkBox is teaming up with the Space Jam franchise to create movie-themed dog products. The company is using the partnership to sell dog subscription boxes that reference characters from the 1996 film’s upcoming sequel: ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’. BarkBox has over one million monthly subscribers and is launching pop-culture-inspired products to entice consumers from new markets.  

It’s not the first time BarkBox has used licensing to appeal to consumers. It previously collaborated with Costco and Budweiser. Now, ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ is coming out July 16 in theatres and on HBO Max, and BarkBox aims to leverage the movie franchise’s fandom.

Read on to understand BarkBox’s latest licensing initiative and how the subscription box company hopes to reach new audiences by incorporating pop-culture trends.

Basketball is For Everyone, Including Dogs!

The original ‘Space Jam’ (1996) featured NBA legend Michael Jordan. By combining Jordan’s significant presence with popular animated Looney Tunes characters, the movie developed a die-hard fanbase of sports and cartoon lovers alike. 

Nearly 25 years later, the movie’s modern sequel is slated to release this Friday. ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ features current basketball superstar and four-time league MVP LeBron James. 

This month’s BarkBox ($38/month) features Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, and Tweety Bird dog toys. Looney Tunes dog treats will also be included in the subscription package, and a LeBron James toy will be available for an additional $9

Hey BarkBox, Why Space Jam?

BarkBox’s decision to partner with the Space Jam franchise appeals to the nostalgic sentiments of those who enjoyed the 1996 film. To date, the original Space Jam has grossed more than $230 million worldwide and has been viewed as a generation-defining film

“We believe our current and potential customers love [Looney Tunes] and the nostalgia that surrounds them,” Elliott May, Vice President of Licensing and Business Development at BarkBox, told SUBTA. “We jumped at the opportunity to bring this beloved cartoon to life for dogs everywhere to help celebrate the newest ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ film launching this month.”

BarkBox is accustomed to launching film-related products. The brand uses its licensing deals as a major customer acquisition and retention strategy.

The recent partnership with the Space Jam franchise can reach basketball lovers who stay up to date with the current NBA culture. Basketball ranks as the third most popular sport in the world with 2.2 billion fans. LeBron James’ appearance in the movie sequel is predicted to attract viewership based on his popularity among sports fans.

Capitalizing on Brand Licensing in the Subscription Industry

BarkBox’s Space Jam-themed box is a great example of brand licensing — when one company leases the rights to another brand’s content for a period of time. Brand licensing is paid either through a one-off acquisition cost, commissions from each sale, or a combination of both. 

“Working with a pop culture brand that spans generations the way Space Jam does is a smart move by the subscription box,” Matthew Arevalo, a licensing expert and Co-Founder of Pinfinity, told SUBTA. You tap into the nostalgia of an older demographic while introducing the IP (intellectual property) and characters to a whole new audience.”

Subscription companies can use licensing to drive sales. 

“Creating original and exclusive product that is also licensed is a huge win for both fans and brands with subscriptions,” said Arevalo, “You are able to authentically tap into the brand recognition and many times partner with that brand in co-marketing and acquisition, increasing your reach and potential audience,” he added.

Arevalo speaks more on brand licensing in this Friday Live show with SUBTA Co-Founder, Chris George.

When two brands with similar values partner together, licensing can become a big advantage. 

“We are a playful pack over here at [BarkBox], much like the Looney Tunes. We love the personality and comedy of these beloved characters and want to share all that fun with our pups,” said May. 

While brand licensing can yield unprecedented benefits, there are many challenges that come with it.

“Approvals can take more time than anyone expected. Dates around launches for movies and games can shift, sometimes dramatically,” said Arevalo. “It takes an experienced team to understand the nuances of licensing and my recommendation is brands new to it should seek consultation from a partner who not only understands that world, but the fan and subscription membership experience as a speciality.”

WarnerMedia’s Proactive Brand Licensing

WarnerMedia began preparing licensing agreements in May when it announced over 200 brands would launch Space Jam collections. 

“The original ‘Space Jam’ was a cultural phenomenon when it debuted in 1996, so it’s no surprise that premier partners around the world are inspired by ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ and excited to bring a new collection to a new generation of fans,” said Robert Oberschelp, Warner Bros’ Senior VP of Franchise Management and Marketing for Consumer Products, in a press release. 

Tommy Hilfiger, Converse, Fossil, and Crocs are just a few of the many companies involved. BarkBox is also getting in on the fun.

“We hope to celebrate and surprise our existing subscribers and appeal to new subscribers who are as excited about the return of the Looney Tunes as we are,” said May. “Plus, how often does a dog company have the chance to make a toy celebrating one of the most accomplished athletes of all time, LeBron James?!”

Key Takeaways: 

  • BarkBox teamed up with the popular movie franchise, Space Jam, to create basketball-related dog products.
  • A new Space Jam sequel starring LeBron James is coming out July 16 in theatres and on HBO Max, and BarkBox looks to leverage the movie franchise’s fandom.
  • This brand licensing initiative will likely appeal to fans of the $230 million-grossed 1996 film.

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