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Local characters top German licenses

MUNICH: What works in North America doesn't necessarily work in Germany and vice versa. That lesson was learned recently as two German licensed properties rose to the top of licensed product sales in Germany and beat out some tried and true...
April 1, 1998

MUNICH: What works in North America doesn’t necessarily work in Germany and vice versa. That lesson was learned recently as two German licensed properties rose to the top of licensed product sales in Germany and beat out some tried and true superheroes.

Werner, a motorcycle-riding, foul-smelling creature created 12 years ago by comic strip artist Rötger Feldmann, has made its way to the top of the list in terms of licensed sales. A Werner TV series, created by the Achterbahn Verlag company in Kiel, has not been picked up by a broadcaster, but Werner comic books continue to be top sellers, and more than five million people lined up last summer to see the animated movie Werner – das kesselt.

Das kleine Arschloch (with the unfortunate English translation of The Little Asshole) is another uncivilized character that has hit the big time in Germany. Frankfurt-based publisher Eichborn Verlag, which produces comic and paperback books, has sold licenses for the property created by Walter Moers. Prior to the release last year of the Das kleine Arschloch film, licensing accounted for less than 18 percent of the company’s yearly overall sales. Now, that number has risen to 25 percent.

German licensing execs have recognized that licensed product is a good way to attract kids to bookstores and comic shops. ‘You can’t reach teenagers with book trade,’ says Horst Preuß, merchandising director of Eichborn Verlag, ‘but cartoons and merchandising ease the step to buy books.’

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