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Licensing Diary: Rocky and Bullwinkle

When we last left our her'es, Rocky the flying squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose, they were living quietly in retirement in Frostbite Falls, Moosylvania, a small island that has long been the source of dispute between the United States and Canada...
September 1, 1996

When we last left our her’es, Rocky the flying squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose, they were living quietly in retirement in Frostbite Falls, Moosylvania, a small island that has long been the source of dispute between the United States and Canada (both claim it belongs to the other). It was first discovered in 1959 by Jay Ward.

The pair have been summoned back into action by Universal Consumer Products Group to begin a new licensing program that is the first step in making Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends relevant to a new generation of consumers.

‘Our goal is to keep Rocky and Bullwinkle in the consumer products marketplace indefinitely,’ says Rosalind Nowicki, senior director of licensing. ‘We want to be consistently fresh and new [with] an edgy fashion line that people are buying, not only because of the characters.’

The licensed product will feature all Rocky and Bullwinkle characters, including Mr. Peabody, Boris and Natasha, Dudley Dooright, as well as ‘Fractured Fairy Tales.’

Let’s take a trip in the way-back machine to enter the world of Rocky and Bullwinkle:

- Rocky and Bullwinkle debuts in 1959, the creation of Jay Ward. Its over-the-top humor, sharp satire and grossly silly puns entertain kids and adults on two levels, much like The Simpsons d’es today.

The show currently airs on The Cartoon Network.

- Although many Rocky and Bullwinkle products are made available over the years, the property lacks a cohesive licensing program until Universal Studios Consumer Products acquires the licensing rights in 1991. It has developed a plan for a steady rollout of products targeted first to baby boomers, who grew up with the show, and eventually trickling down to kids as the company builds awareness leading up to the launch of a new Rocky and Bullwinkle series slated for 1997.

- Looking at the recent success of nostalgic properties like The Cat in the Hat in the apparel category, Nowicki sees an opportunity to reintroduce Rocky and Bullwinkle as the first of a series of products using Universal’s classic cartoon characters under the umbrella of the Universal Wardrobe and Prop Department.

- In 1995, she signs on apparel manufacturer Chorus Line to produce women’s, juniors’ and girls’ ready-to-wear and sleepwear apparel. Those products became available last August in major department stores, including J.C. Penney and Sears.

Other key licensees include: Apparel Dynamics (men’s and boys’ apparel), Thomaston Mills (bedding), Bag Bazaar (accessory bags) and Bantam Books.

- Further Rocky and Bullwinkle products will debut throughout the rest of 1996, and build up to a major push for the back-to-school market in 1997, when a new animated series is slated to premiere. Also in the works is a feature film for 1998.

Will Moose madness come back? Will Dudley Dooright do all right? Find out what new Rocky and Bullwinkle product categories will be licensed next on ‘Clothes but No Cigars’ . . . or ‘The Moose the Merrier.’

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