Toho International, the U.S. arm of Toho, Japan’s leading film conglomerate, has hired two former Crunchyroll executives to lead the group’s stateside expansion and launch an e-commerce platform.
Licensing veteran, Kristin Parcell is appointed as GM. Stacy Burt is appointed as director of marketing.
Set to launch in 2023, Toho’s new e-commerce experience is intended to cater to fandom for the studio’s iconic Godzilla property and its line-up of popular anime franchises. The Godzilla character has appeared in 25 live-action films and a larger number of animated films and series.
In addition, Parcell will also be leading licensing efforts for the company encompassing sectors spanning physical and virtual merchandise, video games, and live events. With her at the helm, Toho for the first time will be actively collaborating with current partners on managing its own licensing rights across all of Toho’s anime IP.
The Toho e-commerce platform will feature both existing products – such as toys and collectibles, gaming, apparel, accessories, publishing, seasonal, housewares, food and beverage – and new originals. Toho is launching the platform to help fill a gap between fan demand and what is being satisfied through current channels for the studio’s anime IP. While the e-commerce platform will initially focus on Toho-owned IP, the company is planning to expand it to outside IPs in future.
At Crunchyroll, a streaming platform that delivered Japanese animation to U.S. and global audiences, Parcell led a team that built the company’s e-commerce platform, while Burt oversaw integrated marketing for Crunchyroll’s e-commerce and events. Crunchyroll was sold by Warner Bros to Sony’s Funimation unit in 2021.
In some three years Parcell and her team built an e-commerce platform that drove tens of millions in annual revenue. Parcell and her team were also responsible for developing and marketing the Crunchyroll Store brand CR Loves, which featured apparel capsules with some of today’s biggest celebrities like Megan Thee Stallion and Lady Gaga, as well as fandom properties like Godzilla and hit anime IP “Jujutsu Kaisen.”
Parcell and Burt are also supported by Joanne Waage, who has been tapped by Toho in an advisory role. Waage has deep expertise in the Asian entertainment landscape and anime having previously served as GM of Crunchyroll and CEO of Asian streaming service, Rakuten Viki.
“Kristin and Stacy bring a wealth of knowledge and skill to building a successful e-commerce platform, but the key differentiator that makes them so successful is their deep understanding of fan communities and visionary thinking,” said Matsuoka Hiro, president of Toho Co. “They are constantly a step ahead of what is likely to delight fans and then they make it happen. With this team on board to lead Toho’s e-commerce effort, we are sure that we’ll be bringing to market an offering that is absolutely unmatched.”
Prior to her tenure as VP of eCommerce at Crunchyroll, Parcell worked in licensing for Netflix, Sega of America, and Viz Media. She started her career in music at ARTISTdirect. Prior to Crunchyroll, Burt worked in marketing at First Republic Bank.