In my last posting, “Hasbro and DreamWorks, a star-crossed romance,” I challenged the notion advanced by some commentators that "somehow" Hasbro’s leadership was unaware that much of their revenue derived from Disney licensed products and that they had not factored in that Disney would be unhappy about their acquiring DreamWorks.
So, ever fearless, here is my speculation on why Hasbro had wanted to merge with DreamWorks not because they were oblivious to the Disney factor but only too well aware of it:
- There were persistent rumors in 2012 that Disney was about to buy Hasbro. The very fact that there was such a rumor, whether grounded in reality or not, speaks to a feeling that all entertainment is converging and that those who control multiple platforms will be the winners.
- If Disney was going to purchase Hasbro, Disney could just as easily have attempted to acquire Mattel. Perhaps Hasbro saw such a possibility as a potential threat and decided to muscle up by merging with DreamWorks in order to blunt the impact.
- If I was Hasbro and realized that I was renting brands that generated 25% of my revenue, I would begin to worry about the landlord. Just as Hasbro was able to win the rights for Star Wars and the Princesses, there had to be awareness that they could also lose them.
- So, ironically, it may have been Hasbro’s winning the Disney Princesses away from Mattel that forced them see just how vulnerable licensing brands could make them.
- Hasbro had the rights to Star Wars and Princesses for several more years so no matter how upset Disney became, Hasbro had some breathing room.
So, bottom line, I think Hasbro saw the DreamWorks deal as a smart long-term play; one that would have secured their brand independence and therefore given them control over their destiny. As it turned out, it didn’t happened…but it wasn’t because it was not a good idea.