Wendy Finerman, producer of Paramount Pictures’ Fairy Tale: A True Story and producer of Forrest Gump, recently got a crash course in marketing a kids movie. The movie is a historically based live-action film centering on two girls who discover a world of fairies in the era of Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The project introduced Finerman to the worlds of licensing, promotion and marketing even before shooting had wrapped.
‘The [Viacom Consumer Products and Paramount Pictures marketing] people knew about me and came with a huge sense of enthusiasm,’ says Finerman. ‘Right away, they realized that the fairies had potential that we could market.’
Attending last year’s Toy Fair in preparation for the production of plastic fairy figures and other licensed goods, Finerman realized that retail realities would affect the film’s release date. ‘We knew that we probably wouldn’t get those Toys `R’ Us shelves at Christmas time. We had to find a window to market to kids that was easier.’ The picture’s licensing and merchandising program was slated to begin shortly after kids got back to school, a few weeks before the film’s October 24 release.
The film’s doll line, produced by Playmates Toys, received excellent support from retailers from its earliest conception. ‘It’s not like with Disney, where they have to take it,’ acknowledges Finerman, who provided retailers with preliminary drawings when the dolls were still in conceptual stages. ‘Even then, the retailers liked the fairy drawings we shared back and forth,’ she notes.
This toy story had a happy ending: Toys `R’ Us gave the line an end cap beginning in September and continuing to the end of October.
‘It’s a really prime spot in any retail environment,’ says Debbi Petrasek, vice president of strategic property development at Viacom Consumer Products. ‘Fairies have an established play pattern, and [the dolls] were really tied to the feature. This gave retailers confidence in the line.’