DreamWorks Animation Names Michael Francis its First Chief Global Brand Officer

Michael Francis joins DreamWorks Animation as it tries to expand beyond releasing a few films a year

DreamWorks Animation has named Michael Francis its first chief global brand officer, the studio said Monday. In his newly created position, Francis will oversee the company's licensing and consumer products push and franchise management activities.

"This is an incredibly powerful global family brand with enviable brand equity and significant untapped potential," Francis said in a statement.

Francis will begin at DreamWorks Animation immediately on a part-time basis and will assume his new role full-time in February 2013.

Francis comes to DreamWorks Animation from Farview Associates, a global branding firm he founded and headed. He also served as president of J.C. Penney, and spent 26 years with the Target Corporation, rising through the ranks to become executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

Francis' hire comes as DreamWorks Animation tries to move from releasing a handful of big budget movies annually to becoming a children's entertainment powerhouse. The company has unveiled plans to build an entertainment district with shops and theaters in Shanghai as part of a Chinese joint venture and will release television shows and animated films targeted to China.

It also hopes to do more licensing not only with DreamWorks Animation characters like Shrek, but also with more evergreen figures like Casper the Friendly Ghost and George of the Jungle. It acquired them after shelling out $155 million for Classic Media last summer. 

But the company needs to steer through stock turbulence. DreamWorks Animation's stock has been in steady decline following the disappointing box office reception for its most recent animated film, "Rise of the Guardians." The film was produced for a reported $145 million, and the company is projecting internally that it will lose $50 million on the film, an executive with knowledge of the financials told TheWrap.

As of 10 a.m. ET Monday, shares of Dreamworks stock were up .18 percent to $16.68.