Now entering its 27th season, Children’s Television Workshop (CTW), producer of Sesame Street, d’esn’t have to worry about building name recognition. With 62 Emmys on its mantle, Sesame Street has been one of the true ground-breakers in children’s television programming.
The creators of Big Bird and Cookie Monster have continued to introduce new characters, such as Z’e, the plucky, bright orange muppet wise beyond her years, who debuted two seasons ago.
When Sesame Street adds a new member to the cast, licensees are brought into discussions early on. They are told how the new character will fit into the framework of the program. Producers and licensees work closely together on how licensees can help build upon that character.
CTW can afford to roll-out new products slowly, responding to demand created by the children and parents who watch the show. This approach has allowed CTW to build many long-standing licensing partnerships, involving such companies as Random House (story books), Western Publishing (story and activity books) and game manufacturer, Milton Bradley. CTW continues to develop new licensing arrangements, such as that with American Home Food Products. In 1994, the makers of Chef Boyardee began distribution of canned and microwavable Sesame Street pastas. CTW took great pains to make sure that its first foray into food product licensing was nutritious for children. American Home Food Products produces four different Sesame Street pasta combinations. One of CTW’s recently expanded licensing partnerships is with toy manufacturer Tyco. Here’s how that partnership developed:
- In 1988, toy-maker Illco ended its relationship with the Disney Co. and went looking for a new entertainment company partner. Illco contacted CTW. Despite working with a number of toy companies, CTW believed that Illco had strength in certain toy categories where CTW felt it needed help.
- Tyco acquires Illco in 1992.
- CTW and Tyco expand their partnership in the preschool area, where Tyco has a particular strength.
- In 1995, Tyco Preschool puts most of its attention toward creating Sesame Street products.
- Tyco preps for a roll-out of some 60 new products onto the market for 1996, the biggest ever of Sesame Street products. Heavy emphasis is placed on plush toy products.