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Opinion: Is licensing always necessary?

As my son rushed to the store to spend his hard-earned allowance money on a Nano pet, he asked me why the Nano pets weren't on television. Good question, isn't it? I'm sure there must be a Nano pet television program...
September 1, 1997

As my son rushed to the store to spend his hard-earned allowance money on a Nano pet, he asked me why the Nano pets weren’t on television. Good question, isn’t it? I’m sure there must be a Nano pet television program in the works!

Does every good idea, whether it be a product or a television program, need to be branded, licensed and merchandised? Are we smarter than we were in the past because we have learned to maximize the power of winning ideas with hopes of turning them into licensing extravaganzas? Are we developing programs specifically for their marketing potential?

I’m not so sure that this push towards maximizing properties hasn’t squelched creativity and our creative integrity. As more and more program creators focus on how their series and features can be merchandised, the focus on developing a solid, high-quality show has taken, in some cases, a backseat.

As we saw at this year’s Academy Awards, big films that have star-proven, top-notch casts don’t always translate into big bucks at the box office, or win a coveted Oscar. Consumers seeking quality and fresh ideas still know a good show when they see one.

The children’s consumer marketplace is no different. Kids love innovative ideas. The current frenzy towards Giga Pets, Beanie Babies and Nano pets demonstrates just that. And, unlike Tickle Me Elmo, these popular toy lines don’t even have a television series . . . yet.

What if we were to develop television programs for kids that were stand-alone extraordinary programs, that not only enriched kids educationally, but provided ongoing, timeless (if there is such a thing) entertainment? Imagine for a moment that this program could be developed through a visionary who wants to simply create a great children’s show.

With the ultimate goal being developing wonderful children’s programs, it just may be that creativity and experimentation may increase, breathing new life into our programming.

Debbie Weber, who has her Masters degree from Harvard University, is the president of Multi-Media Promotions, which specializes in developing targeted marketing campaigns and creative programs that tap into entertainment licensing.

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