V.I.P. took up the responsibility for licensing and merchandising Charles Schulz’s Peanuts in France in 1991. However, it was not until 1995 that the real marketing push for Snoopy and his pals began. Since then, it has grown to be one of the leading properties in the marketplace-popular across a wide range of age groups.
Although the Peanuts characters-most notably Snoopy-have a massive latent awareness due to their origin as a syndicated comic strip, a recent burst of licensing activity in France has been triggered by the broadcast of its animation (64 x 30 minutes) on cable and satellite channel Canal J. According to Biard, ‘We have a strong relationship with Canal J. We find it easier to coordinate our activities with them than with the terrestrials.’
Episodes of Snoopy animation were aired on Canal J four times a week between March and June 1997, and then again in the autumn schedule. This was supported by a wide range of promotional activity on- and off-screen, says Biard.
Canal J contributed to the awareness-building campaign by running a cross-media competition in partnership with the TV magazine Télé Loisirs. Snoopy merchandise, ranging from books to watches to schoolbags, served as prizes.
A Canal J media campaign also centered on Snoopy as a kind of network mascot. A Paris poster campaign, point-of-sale activities, the use of costumed actors in major French towns and a promotional push via cable operators were all designed to build awareness of the broadcast and the licensing range.
Following this period of intense promotional activity, there have been major licensing activities on a wide range of products. Among these, Orlait has launched a new line in milk and desserts, DIY brands Polyfilla and Xyladecor have used Snoopy in on-pack promotions and Olympia has linked Snoopy with the soccer World Cup in its sock designs. Various lines of apparel for children have also been created by Larema and Duguy, while retailer Carrefour is cited by V.I.P. and United Media as a strong supporter of the character. In addition to all of this, a range of plush toys and PVC figurines are also available.
Although there are some global-level deals for Peanuts between main U.S. licensing representative United Media and clients such as McDonald’s, Biard stresses that the success of Peanuts in France has been facilitated by V.I.P.’s ability to control most aspects of the characters’ exploitation. ‘We have all rights to Snoopy in France and make sure that everything, from PR and research to television and licensing, works together. The business has changed so much, you really have to be able to make it happen.’
The future of the property looks healthy too. In 2000, Peanuts celebrates its 50th anniversary. According to United Media, this will be supported in major markets such as France by internationally televised events, commemorative products, extensive retail promotions and worldwide publicity.
According to United Media’s Debra Fletcher, France is a particularly important market for properties like Snoopy. ‘Not only does France have a highly developed retail infrastructure, but in terms of apparel, it continues to be known as the center of fashion and textile design.’