Universal creates new unit

Combines groups to focus on partnerships and licensing

In a move at integrating the studio's brand management and promotional partnerships, Universal Pictures has combined the studio's Consumer Products Group with its Universal Studios Partnerships division to form Universal Partnerships and Licensing.

Stephanie Sperber, who currently heads USP, will run the new division and assume the title executive vp, Universal Partnerships and Licensing.

UP&L will now have oversight over all of the studio's consumer product licensing, film and home entertainment promotions and corporate alliances for the studio's theatrical, home entertainment, theme parks and stage productions.

"By putting our brand management efforts under one roof, we provide more effective servicing for our corporate partners and our studio," said Universal chairman Marc Shmuger

Under the new organization, senior vp Amy Taylor will oversee UP&L's North American promotions, worldwide licensing and retail development. (She and her team are currently spearheading sales for upcoming Universal Pictures feature films such as "Land of the Lost" and are handling promotional activities for films developed around Hasbro products such as Stretch Armstrong.)

David O'Connor will also oversee marketing for UP&L, reporting to both Sperber and Universal's president of marketing and distribution Adam Fogelson. O'Connor will continue to be responsible for developing content ideas and integration with NBC and its related entities and Universal theme parks.

Stephanie Testa will head UP&L's corporate alliances practice, which oversees long-term partnerships for Universal's film, home entertainment, theme park and stage production business units. She is responsible for the acquisition of new brand partners as well as managing relationships with the existing partners.