If you pick up the latest issue of the Pop Insider, you may notice that the cover is adorned with a pile of calendars that feature all of your favorite brands — whether you love the privileged, yet heartwarming, Rose family from Schitt’s Creek; rock ‘n rolling all night (and partying every day) with KISS; the bold, emblazoned Street Fighter II logo that transports you back to your childhood; and so much more.
Who’s behind these stellar calendars? Meet Gotham City Online, a licensing and e-commerce company that offers its own licensed merch for purchase, as well as plenty of services — including its Value Added Licensing Program — for the brands themselves. The Pop Insider chatted with Andrew Lawrence, director of licensing at Gotham City Online, to learn more about how the company serves both consumers and brands.
The Pop Insider: Gotham City Online does a lot for consumers and brands alike. Can you give us a brief overview of what your company does for both?
Andrew Lawrence: Gotham City Online is about creating online shopping experiences that exceed everyone’s expectations. That’s what our Value Added Licensing philosophy is all about. Right now, with this rush of players to e-commerce, there is a real lack of concern among retailers for defending intellectual property (IP) rights and creating memorable customer experiences. Gotham solves that problem. Brand holders should be getting paid for products that utilize their IP, and customers should be able to purchase quality product at value. A lot of the industry is finally realizing what a huge problem counterfeit goods are, in terms of lost sales, poor customer experiences and brand equity dilution. We have been the tip of that spear in that fight for years now.
We’ve had massive growth in licensing partnerships because we understand the struggle involved in protecting your brand online. We give our partners tangible help that yields real-world results. Couple that with our entirely domestic supply chain, in-house design, and a robust direct-to-consumer shipping system, and it’s a recipe for success.
PI: Tell us about your new calendar program that’s launching this month for 2022.
AL: We are really excited to be shaking up the world of calendars. The model for how calendars are manufactured and purchased at retail is dated and inefficient. The lead times are insanely long, the ability to reorder and restock is difficult, and there is usually too much stock of poor selling items and too little of what actual sells well. Our purpose-built premium calendar model changes that. We invested in industry-leading manufacturing equipment, and the response from licensors and customers has been great. The results speak for themselves — and our premium calendar line is growing at more than 500% a year. It’s a perfect addition our wall décor, drinkware, and apparel product lines.
AL: Our philosophy at Gotham is to always let the fans speak. We love servicing passionate, niche fanbases that are sometimes ignored by the larger brick-and-mortar world. Really, our team is having a lot of fun working with some of our favorite brands and making stuff that we think is cool, fun, and playful. Gotham has 22 years of experience in e-commerce and has shipped more than 20 million items to consumers, so we bring a lot of valuable expertise to our brand partnerships. We are thrilled that brands understand how we are different from typical licensees and are receptive and eager to work with us.
PI: All of your calendars are manufactured in the U.S. Why is domestic production important to the company, as well as to consumers?
AL: After the difficulties of this past year, and soaring costs and slowing speed of international shipping, our commitment to domestic production inside the U.S. proved itself to be incredibly valuable. I think everyone now realizes that relying on overseas production exposes you to supply chain obstacles that can be crippling. Our fully domestic premium calendar supply chain is nearly frictionless. Our time to market is measured in days, not weeks. For me personally though, the key benefits are responsiveness to market trends and a lowered carbon footprint. We live in a digital, on-demand, streaming world when it comes to our media. The time between the emergence of demand and that demand being filled is near-instantaneous in that world. Consumer goods — especially licensed consumer goods — need to catch up.
PI: Gotham City Online not only sells great stuff, but also helps out brands on the licensing side of things. Tell us about your Value Added Licensing program, and how it helps brands — and ultimately consumers — deal with and avoid counterfeit products.
AL: We understand licensing not just from the perspective of the licensee, but also the licensor. These teams are stretched thin and under pressure to perform. Our Value Added Licensing is a concept that says, “let’s utilize Gotham’s technology capabilities and help our partners own their brand better.” So, it ends up meaning different things to different partners. Maybe it means we offer customizable products for your fans. Maybe it means testing the popularity of various images by releasing a wide product line with lots of SKUs. But no matter what, it starts with getting counterfeit product out of the marketplace, and then it goes beyond that.
Gotham can help you learn how well your brand is positioned vs. your competitors, how your consumer products are faring versus media content, etc. We can look at how your customers want to interact with your brands. We have a holistic approach to licenses in our portfolio. Because we own some much of the supply chain — from the design work, to our market analysis, to the fulfillment, to customer feedback — we can analyze all of this data. We utilize it to refine our product offerings, of course, but Value Added Licensing is about sharing that information with our licensors, and helping our partners with data they can act on, which helps them monetize their brand.
To purchase Gotham City Online’s premium calendars, head over to Amazon. Don’t forget to check out Gotham City Online on cover of Issue 10 of the Pop Insider, available now!