SpongeBob Turns 25: Paramount Celebrates its India and SEA Success
SpongeBob Turns 25: Paramount Celebrates its India and SEA Success

Paramount Global is celebrating 25 years of SpongeBob SquarePants' success worldwide. India and Southeast Asia have shown immense love for the optimistic and earnest sea sponge and his undersea friends. The American conglomerate is set to enhance the fan experience through its Licensing and Merchandising (L&M) initiatives in the region and across the globe. While in 2025, Paramount Global will re-launch Dora followed with the much-awaited SpongeBob animated feature movie.

Paramount Global’s popular IPs, such as PAW Patrol, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Garfield, have gained immense popularity across Southeast Asia and India. These brands are well-liked on both linear and cable channels, while others like Emily in Paris and Avatar have also gained traction, partly due to platforms like Netflix and increasingly, YouTube.

SpongeBob SquarePants is one of the most widely distributed properties in Paramount Global's history, seen in more than 180 markets and translated into over 30 languages. After its debut in 1999, the TV series saw widespread success, along with its ensuing consumer products program and three theatrical releases.

Celebrating 25 Years of SpongeBob

In an interview with IndianRetailer.com, Anjan Baxi, Licensing Director for Southeast Asia & India at Paramount Consumer Products, discussed their licensing strategies around popular characters in India and Southeast Asia.

Talking about unique Licensing and Merchandising (L&M) collaborations, Baxi said, “We have had some fantastic collaborations that we are immensely proud of. Among them are our partnership and license deal with 7-Eleven in Thailand for bottled water, Padini and Giomax for a direct-to-retail license in Malaysia, as well as our long-standing association with Campina ice cream in Indonesia and Zwitsal kids shampoo.”

Baxi further said, “There are also collaborations between Tanqueray and Emily in Paris, and The Souled Store and Celio in India. This year, we are really excited to be celebrating 25 years of SpongeBob, and we are rolling out a global campaign in June with lots of amazing collaborations, including across Asia.”

Talking about future collaborations, Baxi said, “Going into 2025, we will re-launch Dora – everyone’s favorite Latina pre-school heroine – followed up in December 2025 with the much-awaited SpongeBob animated feature movie.”

Comparing SEA vs India

According to the 2023 Licensing International study, the global licensing industry grew at a healthy 8.02 percent in 2022, with the South Asia/PAC region experiencing a growth of 12.4 percent.

Comparing the two markets, Baxi said, “The market situation for Paramount Consumer Products in India is positive, and we are seeing year-on-year growth, but it is not without its challenges. A key challenge in India is the low penetration and reach of character awareness outside the 20-odd cities, compounded by disorganized retail, and the lack of licensees who can invest in sufficient production and marketing to keep pricing at affordable levels.”

Baxi further said, “Of course, there are opportunities in India. These include direct-to-consumer companies and e-commerce majors, increasing consumer interest in branded products across categories, and experiential entertainment and pop-up stores, which are on the rise.”

Elaborating further, he said, “Southeast Asia must be viewed in context; this is a region where the character licensing business started four decades ago, so today's parents are already solidly immersed in IPs and brands. Countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand enjoy higher per capita incomes, organized retail, and a few target cities where one can dominate retail.”

Talking about the growth of Paramount Shop, Baxi said, “Price sensitivity in Southeast Asia and India is higher than in other regions, but nevertheless we have seen an encouraging response to the Global Shop as we offer shipping and payment in local currencies in most countries, including India.”

Growth of Animation-led Merchandise

According to Kings Research Report, the global Animation Toys Market was valued at $35.24 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach $58.85 billion by 2030, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 6.62 percent from 2023 to 2030.

Baxi explained, "Animation-based merchandise is traditionally popular in Southeast Asia. PAW Patrol dominates the pre-school market, while SpongeBob and Garfield are enjoying growing market share among teens and young adults, especially in fashion and apparel.”

Tackling Counterfeiting

The 2023 Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy (the Notorious Markets List), released by the US Trade Representatives, identified 39 online and 33 physical markets. The report included three Indian markets in New Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru, as well as three online markets reportedly involved in substantial trademark counterfeiting or copyright piracy.

Baxi said, “Paramount utilizes all legal and anti-piracy options. As part of our multifaceted counterfeit prevention strategy, we also educate retailers and consumers about licensed merchandise. Another important initiative is that Paramount works closely with our licensees for market-appropriate pricing to narrow the gap between pirated and official merchandise.”

He further said, “In Greater China and South Korea, Paramount licensed products carry a hologram for added consumer security.”

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