Kevin Mayer, Co-CEO of Blackstone Group-backed Candle Media, spoke on the company’s 360 IP investment strategy at the MipTV conference in Cannes on Monday morning.
Mayer appeared alongside Moonbug Entertainment co-founder René Rechtman in a panel moderated by diversity international editor Manori Ravindran. Candle Media bought kid-focused brand Moonbug for $3 billion last year.
They previously bought Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine for $900 million and also own a stake in Will Smith’s production and multimedia company Westbrook, which produces, among other things, Jada Pinkett Smith’s popular Red Table Talk show on Facebook.
Former Disney exec Mayer described these as Candle Media’s “anchor” companies that house other acquisitions, citing Moonbug’s recent acquisition of the YouTube franchise Little Angel and Hello Sunshine’s acquisition of The Home Edit, a home organization brand , which was first promoted by Gwyneth Paltrow that has spawned a Netflix show, books, magazines and merchandise.
Adding that Moonbug in particular has a “strong pipeline of potential IPs that we’re looking to acquire,” Rechtman also viewed the gaming space in particular as the next frontier in terms of what kids are interested in, stating, “We need to Eyeballs follow.”
Mayer also explained how Candle Media is focused on acquiring companies that show “synergies” and gave an example of Witherspoon working with Rechtman on a children’s series. “Reese Witherspoon has a fantastic idea for a new children’s brand and she’s writing a book about it and she wanted to make an animated series behind it,” Mayer said. (Last month, Witherspoon announced that she had written her first children’s book, Busy Betty, inspired by her own adventures as a child.)
“Moonbug specializes in children’s entertainment and caters to that audience, and they have a huge built-in audience to promote new programs to, so naturally Rene bonded with Reese, and one thing led to another, and now it’s Rene hopefully – over the next many months – we’re going to launch this new product with Reese and there’s going to be a very extensive collaboration there.”
Mayer explained that Candle Media’s MO is designed to replicate Disney’s strategy of acquiring and building strong IP and franchise brands while remaining independent of streaming platforms or distributors. “Our mission is to have amazing intellectual property that’s franchised, that’s the operating model that we’ve grown accustomed to from our Disney days,” he said. “It really works in three specific areas as an audience. That audience can be targeted through streaming services, we can talk to that audience, and we can target that audience on social media […] and you want trade.”
Complementing Candle Media’s unique position as an independent company, he added: “Content demand will continue to grow extremely rapidly over the next 5-10 years. When you’re independent, there aren’t many quality independent products out there, so we’re excited about our opportunities there.”
Asked if Candle Media intends to continue its partnership with Will Smith, who has faced abuse since he punched comedian Chris Rock last weekend, Mayer said there were no plans to admit Candle Media’s involvement in Westbrook sell. “It’s a great company, they have great projects, they are very diverse, they have film and television production, they have social media stories like Red Table Talk […] They have a big social media branding operation so it’s a very good company, we have a 10% stake, that’s where we are now, we think they’re a really great company.”
https://variety.com/2022/tv/global/kevin-mayer-candle-miptv-1235222751/ Candle Media’s Kevin Mayer says he will continue to work with Will Smith