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Keys to extending a brand into the children’s home video market

From the moment I was approached with the opportunity of launching a video and audio division for Golden Books Family Entertainment, I recognized the tremendous potential of the Golden Books brand. Now, six months following the launch of the division, my...
July 1, 1998

From the moment I was approached with the opportunity of launching a video and audio division for Golden Books Family Entertainment, I recognized the tremendous potential of the Golden Books brand. Now, six months following the launch of the division, my enthusiasm for the Golden Books brand and characters is stronger than ever.

With the goal of becoming a leader in the family entertainment industry, we are developing a strategy founded upon the strength of the Golden Books brand. Our strategy includes bringing to life on video Golden Books’ best-selling characters, such as Poky Little Puppy, Pat the Bunny and Saggy Baggy Elephant. While our strategy is still in its embryonic stage, we have identified a number of factors critical to any content-based company’s success in extending its brand into the home video marketplace. Those factors include:

- Development and production of strong characters and stories. (The goal is not to create one-offs. While it is great to be opportunistic and launch the hot title ‘du jour,’ it is important to develop a stable of properties with enough depth that they naturally lend themselves to series.)

- A strong foundation that will help to launch the property on video. Books, toys and TV broadcast can all provide a suitable foundation upon which to launch a video series. (As the largest children’s book publisher in North America and the distributor of five of the top six all-time, best-selling children’s books, according to Publishers Weekly, Golden Books is poised to bring its characters to life on video.)

- A company-wide integrated marketing strategy that supports the retail community and raises consumer awareness and demand for the product. (With respect to properties that cross various formats, that is, publishing, video, television, merchandising, it is critical that the company have an integrated marketing approach. Additionally, with respect to video, the goal is to create marketing partnerships with third parties and retail-specific promotions that will help drive traffic and increase sales.)

- A strong distribution vehicle with the ability to place product into all classes of trade. (The best option is to be self-distributed, provided that a strong, experienced sales force is in place and has sufficient high-quality product to command shelf space. For many start-up home video divisions, self-distribution is not an option. In these cases, it is critical that the division enter into a distribution arrangement with a distributor that has excellent retail relationships and a proven track record with video product of the same genre.)

The increasing popularity of retro properties and classic characters emphasizes the need to create a marketing approach that focuses upon the parent and child as consumers. Such an approach is equally as important for new characters and properties. In all cases, the goal is to make video-watching a shared experience.

The video market is constantly evolving. Accordingly, it is important that the marketing and distribution strategies are flexible enough to accommodate a changing marketplace. This includes evaluating new ways to distribute videos, such as through the Internet, direct mail and nontraditional retail outlets.

While the video industry is mature, there is still an opportunity to build a successful and profitable video business through innovative programming, marketing and distribution. This is an exciting time to be involved in the children’s video business. Innovative marketing and distribution strategies will be embraced, and the marketplace will always have room for great characters and stories.

Cindy Bressler is the senior vice president and general manager of Golden Books Home Video & Audio.

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