It’s not as old as that ‘other’ mouse and outside of Germany, most have never heard of it, but the mouse (it d’esn’t have a proper name) has had its own show on German television for 25 years and is becoming the center of an extensive licensing campaign.
The mouse and its show, with the to-the-point name of The Program with the Mouse (Die sendung mit der maus), first aired on ARD on March 10, 1971, and has appeared on Sunday mornings at 11:30 a.m. ever since. The mouse and its buddies, the elephant and the duck (no names for these guys either, nor do they speak), are the hosts of the show, targeted at kids three to nine years old. The show combines the mouse episodes with the ‘lach und sachgeschichten’ (laughing and educational stories). The ‘laughing stories’ include animated segments starring such other German standbys as Captain Bluebear and the Little Mole.
The educational live-action segments respond to such hard-to-answer kids’ questions as ‘How can you fix the hole in the ozone layer?’ or ‘How d’es salt get into the sea?’ To date, over 1,000 30-minute programs have been produced.
While the show has a long history, its licensing program d’es not. It wasn’t until this past spring that plans for a comprehensive licensing campaign began to take shape when ARD awarded the license to BavariaSonor of Munich, a subsidiary of Bavaria Film.
The creator of the mouse, I. Schmidt-Menzel, awarded the licensing rights for her drawings to a small German firm named Ahrenkeiel. Although she was the creator, ARD redesigned the rodent for the TV program and the licensed Schmidt-Menzel mouse products were not based on the same mouse that appeared on television. The licensees of that early mouse had some problems. ‘They did not have the rights to mention the TV series,’ says Gloria Rathsfeld, BavariaSonor’s marketing manager. ‘It was a difficult rights situation.’
While it has been a long time in coming, the BavariaSonor licensing campaign shouldn’t have too much trouble getting off the ground. According to Rathsfeld, the show has developed a bit of a cult following, with a market share of 49.8 percent of kids three to 13. Those adults who watched the show 25 years ago now have kids of their own and continue to tune in. (They represent a 23 percent market share, says Rathsfeld.)
The usual kids products are planned and adult mouse products, such as office supplies, are slated for next year.
In the words of the song about the mouse recorded by Stefan Raab, a host on Germany’s music channel VIVA: ‘Hier kommit die maus’ (Here comes the mouse).