UPDATE, 12:15 PM: I told you on Friday that Jeff Shell would be appointing Vince Klaseus to the new position of President of Universal Brand Development and today he did just that. “Vince is one of the best executives in the business at leveraging innovative strategies to create successful products, and he will be a terrific leader for this new division,” said the Universal Pictures chief today (see today’s full Universal announcement below) As I said last week, Partnerships and Licensing exec Stephanie Sperber will now report to Klaseus. Worldwide Home Entertainment prez Eddie Cunningham will not report to Klaseus but Universal Studios’ Home Entertainment’s content production arm chief Glenn Ross will. In fact Ross will now answer to both Cunningham and Klaseus, which sounds awkward.
PREVIOUSLY, SEPT 5 PM: EXCLUSIVE: There will be a new exec and a new gig announced next week by Universal Pictures boss Jeff Shell. Like NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke put his guy Shell in charge at Universal a year ago, Shell now is set to make Vince Klaseus President of Universal Brand Development. The newly created position will see several Universal decision makers including Worldwide Home Entertainment prez Eddie Cunningham and Partnerships and Licensing chief Stephanie Sperber answering to the ex-Disney marketing exec and toy company boss, I’ve learned. Klaseus will report to Shell. Universal would neither confirm nor comment on Klaseus joining the studio.
“Nothing personal against Vince, but this just seems like Jeff tinkering in a place that doesn’t need fixing,” one industry insider said of the pending hire. The studio has been successful in recent years with blockbuster licensing deals including for the Despicable Me franchise.
Klaseus left Disney in spring 2012 as SVP Global Toys and Hardlines after 12 years there. He co-founded toy company Cartwheel Kids later that year and took on the role of president.
Universal statement announcing Vince Klaseus As President of Brand Development
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA, September 8, 2014 – Universal Pictures today announced that Vince Klaseus will join the company as President of a newly-created Brand Development division. In this role, Klaseus will develop and implement a long term strategic plan to expand the company’s presence in the family and kids space, including positioning Universal and creating new strategies to build and grow its portfolio of brands and consumer products. The announcement was made by Universal Filmed Entertainment Group Chairman Jeff Shell, to whom Klaseus will report.
“Universal has an enormous opportunity to unify and grow our brands in a way that allows us to capitalize on existing franchises and characters and grow new ones that we can deploy across the NBCUniversal ecosystem.” said Shell. “Vince is one of the best executives in the business at leveraging innovative strategies to create successful products, and he will be a terrific leader for this new division.”
In his new role, Klaseus will be responsible for centralizing Universal businesses and brands to grow product opportunities in the retail and non-theatrical content space. Universal Partnerships & Licensing President Stephanie Sperber will continue to lead NBCUniversal’s global consumer products, promotions, and digital gaming efforts, which includes the merchandising and licensing of the company’s wealth of intellectual properties, including Universal Pictures, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, NBC Entertainment and Sprout, reporting to Klaseus. Universal 1440 Entertainment EVP & General Manager Glenn Ross will continue in his role as head of Universal Studios’ Home Entertainment’s content production arm, developing and producing kids and family entertainment for non-theatrical distribution worldwide. Ross, who reports to President Worldwide Home Entertainment Eddie Cunningham, will now also report to Klaseus.
Klaseus comes to Universal from Cartwheel Kids, where he has served as the company’s CEO since December 2012. Under his leadership, Cartwheel launched and rapidly expanded to open offices in Los Angeles and China in addition to securing major licensing deals with high-profile entertainment partners. Prior to Cartwheel, Klaseus spent 12 years at The Walt Disney Company in various capacities. In the last four years of his tenure, he served as the head of the company’s Global Toy division after much success in Disney’s Franchise Management department. Klaseus began his career at Mattel in 1995.
He received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Business and graduated with a Masters of Business Administration from The American Graduate School of International Management.