Andy Heyward’s Genius Brands has split with Harold Chizick, Jennifer Chizick | Source: Genius Brands/The Toy Book

Updated: 1/10/2022, 2:19 pm ET — added statement from Genius Brands.

There’s trouble brewing at Genius Brands International.

Just over a year after announcing that they’d be joining Genius Brands, Harold and Jennifer Chizick have made an exit from the company, effective immediately. With the move, the Chizicks also walk away from their companies: ChizComm and ChizComm Beacon Media.

“We are extremely disappointed to be leaving Genius Brands and ChizComm after less than a year of being with Genius Brands. However, our vision on how to best grow the Company does not align well with Genius Brands,” say Harold and Jennifer Chizick. “Last week, Genius Brands imposed organizational changes that reduced our role in the company and was a breach of our agreement with Genius Brands. Efforts to resolve this matter in an amicable fashion have been unsuccessful. We believe that we have been terminated on a ‘without cause’ basis and now have no choice but to depart the company and explore options for how to recoup the considerable sums remaining due to us.”

Genius Brands issued a statement in response declaring that “Harold Chizick and Jennifer Chizick, employees of the company’s ChizComm subsidiary, have been terminated for cause. The company believes this decision to be in the best interest of its shareholders and customers.”

According to Genius Brands, business at ChizComm and ChizComm Beacon Media will continue as usual. Donna MacNeil continues as President of ChizComm and Kathleen Campisano continues as global chief marketing officer and general manager of ChizComm Beacon Media.

“Genius Brands International is fully invested in the success of these subsidiaries and believes it will be more fully realized under Ms. MacNeil’s and Ms. Campisano’s leadership,” the company said.

Related: State of the Industry Q&A 2021: ChizComm

Nearly nine years ago, following successful runs heading marketing and communications for Spin Master (twice) and MEGA Brands, Harold Chizick made the decision to take his knowledge of marketing toy and entertainment brands and set up shop on his own. On April 12, 2013, Chizick and his wife Jennifer opened ChizComm Ltd. as a full-service marketing and communications agency geared toward launching, marketing, and promoting toys, consumer products, and entertainment for kids.

With one client, Tech4Kids, ChizComm began operating from a single office in Toronto. Following rapid expansion and the acquisition of Beacon Media nearly three years ago, ChizComm now operates offices with flags planted firmly in Toronto, New Jersey, and Los Angeles. Under the terms of their acquisition, ChizComm Ltd. and ChizComm Beacon Media were to function as independently operating subsidiaries of Genius Brands International.

Upon the close of the deal in Feb. 2021, Harold was set to continue as CEO of both companies with Jennifer serving as chief operating officer of ChizComm Ltd. Additionally, Harold was named president of marketing, content sales and consumer products for Genius Brands.

“ChizComm staff is at the heart of everything we do. We want to thank this phenomenal team — past and present — that have contributed to building a great organization that prioritizes integrity, drive, and passion,” the Chizicks say. “And to the ChizComm client base, it has been an honor working in partnership to unlock opportunities and drive growth. Stay tuned for what we do next.”

About the author

James Zahn

James Zahn

James Zahn, AKA The Rock Father, is Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book, a Senior Editor at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider, and Editor of The Toy Report, The Toy Book‘s weekly industry newsletter. As a pop culture and toy industry expert, Zahn has appeared as a panelist and guest at events including Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC) Wizard World Chicago, and the ASTRA Marketplace & Academy. Zahn has more than 30 years of experience in the entertainment, retail, and publishing industries, and is frequently called upon to offer expert commentary for publications such as Forbes, Marketwatch, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, Reuters, the Washington Post, and more. James has appeared on History Channel’s Modern Marvels, was interviewed by Larry King and Anderson Cooper, and has been seen on Yahoo! Finance, CNN, CNBC, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, CBS, WGN, The CW, and more. Zahn joined the Adventure Media & Events family in 2016, initially serving as a member of the Parent Advisory Board after penning articles for the Netflix Stream Team, Fandango Family, PBS KIDS, Sprout Parents (now Universal Kids), PopSugar, and Chicago Parent. He eventually joined the company full time as a Senior Editor and moved up the ranks to Deputy Editor and Editor-in-Chief.