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Taking license with Muppets

The fact that Muppet character Kermit the Frog outsold all other hand puppets at F.A.O Schwarz this past year-two decades after he began starring in his own TV show-demonstrates just how enduring a brand he is....
February 1, 1996

The fact that Muppet character Kermit the Frog outsold all other hand puppets at F.A.O Schwarz this past year-two decades after he began starring in his own TV show-demonstrates just how enduring a brand he is.

Now, throw in a tropical island location and Kermit in a pirate hat sailing the high seas, and the merchandising possibilities become staggering.

‘From a visual point of view, the swashbuckling and the pirates gave us something we could really sink our teeth into,’ says Jim Henson Productions’ vice president of licensing Betts FitzGerald, in describing the range of licensed products that are tied in to Muppet Treasure Island.

More than 30 major licensees are using the upcoming feature film to market a whole host of products ranging everywhere from the obvious apparel and accessories to toys and sporting goods and home furnishings.

Following is a run-down of some of the products that will begin hitting retail stores this month:

- Allison Manufacturing is introducing casual and sleepwear products; FootTec has a line of sh’es; Handcraft is manufacturing socks; HeadStart has kids baseball caps; Roma Kids is doing a line of purses, tote bags and back packs; and Jungle Rags is creating active wear for specialty stores.

- Wamsutta has a line of juvenile bedding, complete with co-ordinated wall decorations from Priss Prints.

- Avon is carrying a line of Miss Piggy soap-on-a-rope and an adventure kit that contains eye glasses, compasses and finger puppets.

- Coty/Calgon has created Muppet Treasure Island bubble bath, with molded bottles in the shapes of Kermit, Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear.

- Activision has an adventure game that incorporates real footage from the movie.

– Toy Biz has plush toys, and Tyco’s Viewmaster has a new Muppet Treasure Island product.

There will also be PVC figurines, gift and party stationery, a calendar for 1997, a magic pen with invisible ink, Thermos products, an aquarium set and new music releases derived from the film’s music score.

‘One thing that helped make this happen so smoothly within the eight months we had, was the fact that we are now totally digitized,’ says FitzGerald. ‘All our style guides are on disc, so we can give our renderings directly to the licensees, and they can then go in and get the actual images.’

FitzGerald says she’s happy with the licensee line-up. ‘We got the categories we wanted. We did not want to oversell or over license. Our roots are as a production company. We believe that licensing supports the productions, and not vice versa.’

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