GGirls entertainment producer Purple Moon is starting to ratchet up its branding strategy for interactive property Rockett Movado. In August, the Mountain View, California-based company granted the worldwide publishing rights to Scholastic Inc. to produce books based on Rockett and the other 20 characters that inhabit the popular selling CD-ROM series and a sub-section of Purple Moon’s Web site (www.purplemoon.com).
Purple Moon CEO Nancy Deyo sees Rockett’s category jump from interactive game and Web site serial to books as a natural progression in the life of the property.
‘It has always been our intention that this character franchise would reach into new media forms and other lifestyle consumer product areas that are central to the lives of preteen girls,’ says Deyo.
As part of the multiyear deal, Scholastic will publish two paperback books for the fall of 1999, and thereafter will release a new Rockett title on a quarterly basis. Scholastic will distribute the books at mass and specialty stores and through its book club programs. The agreement also gives Scholastic the option to create titles based on a possible Rockett TV show.
The partnership represents the first time one of Purple Moon’s interactive properties will be adapted into book form, and the first time Scholastic has attempted such a translation.
‘Obviously, [Purple Moon] has already done a lot of the work for us. As a character, Rockett is really built. She has some scaffolding, it just exists in a different media form. It’s up to us to clothe her and give her her features in a different way,’ says Jean Seiwel, senior VP of publishing at Scholastic.
In the Rockett CD-ROMs, girls assume Rockett Movado’s identity as an eighth grader new to Whistling Pines Jr. High. As Rockett, players must negotiate their way through the Byzantine social observances that pock modern preteen life, like writing notes to classmates and deciding which student clique to join.
Deyo and colleague Brenda Laurel founded Purple Moon in 1997 with the mandate of accurately depicting these and other experiences in the lives of preteen girls, initally through CD-ROMS. Despite successful ventures into other categories like merchandising and the Internet, software has proven to be the company’s real cash cow. According to David Ferguson, a research analyst at PC Data, overall sales for preteen girl games for the period January to July 1998 doubled to US$22.4 million from US$12.9 million for the same period in 1997. With US$2.1 million in CD-ROM sales so far this year, Purple Moon ranks number three in CD-ROMs targeted to girls ages seven to 12, only falling behind industry bulwarks Pleasant Company and Mattel.
In order to get the next level of brand awareness, moving Rockett into a more traditional medium became academic for Purple Moon.
‘We always felt we needed publishing or television to reach girls more broadly with our brand because, obviously, more girls have access to books and to television than they do the Internet,’ says Deyo.
So, can Rockett the TV show be far behind? Deyo says she has nothing to announce right now, but she admits a treatment for such a program has been making the rounds at various production companies.