In this episode, Carl interviews Ed Casey, who has a long list of credits, including, (but definitely not limited to) 40+ years in Licensing, working with BBC Worldwide, Turner Broadcasting, the NFL, MLB, Sherlock, Top Gear, Planet Earth, Hey Duggee, Teletubbies, Star Trek—even the Flintstones—to just name a few. Oh—and as Director of Licensing for BBC, he was responsible for the launch of the huge cult TV series Doctor Who in North America.
So if you have worn a fan t-shirt, sipped from your favorite team’s mug, bought your kids cartoon pajamas, or collected super-cool memorabilia, chances are you can thank Ed Casey. Not many people think about how their favorite merchandise gets to retail.
You'd be surprised to know that brand licensing is a $292 billion, global business.
Ed came from humble beginnings, growing up in a tenement in the South Bronx. He says he didn’t know how rough it was or how poor they were and he has some happy childhood memories of reading comic books and trading baseball cards. After college, he wrote for Rock n’ Roll magazines in Portland and then had a brief stint as an intern for Penthouse Magazine when he returned to NYC. From then on, “entertainment marketing” was his game.
When Ed and Carl talk about licensing, Carl immediately wants to talk Johnny Quest and Littlest Hobo, two of his childhood heroes. Many people love the nostalgia that comes with collectibles. “One thing leads to another!” Ed laughs. “I like to say I’m in the smile business, brightens your day—it’s cheaper than a psychiatrist.” Ed says that Licensing is really a small group business where everyone knows everyone.
Two years into (un)retirement, Ed says that at first, it was a big adjustment. “Between school and work, 55 years of my life was scheduled. Leaving corporate life was really a big surprise. Your immediate contacts know you're out of the loop. You are on the outside instead of the inside. It’s a real eye-opener when it happens.”
Ed realized he needed to cultivate new friendships. “Really work on it,” he advises. “It’s really important to get outside yourself. Go into town, make those calls, set up those lunches and have fun! Enjoy these new relationships because many of the old ones go by the wayside.”
Now, Ed says people actually wish they were in his position because he is doing what he wants to do. He’s making films, volunteering, licensing a little, and just took up drumming. He’s loving it!
Ed Casey’s keys to a fulfilling (un)retirement:
(“Un)retirement is like a fingerprint. Everybody is different. There’s no one plan. It’s creative. Fill in the blanks!”
“You need to keep yourself flexible and open. I actually learned to polka with my wife and now we're champs!”
“Enjoy the small things. I enjoy making my lunch at home now, vs. the night before bag lunch. I like watching baseball in the afternoons, vs. licensing secretly at work via the Internet.
Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the “I Used to Be Somebody” weekly blog.