Syndicated comic strip character Ziggy is celebrating his 28th birthday with an expedition only 24 other souls have ever attempted. Thanks to cartoonist Tom Wilson and licensing agent United Media, the feel-good underdog has been signed on as the official spokescharacter for an expedition to the North Pole.
The fundraiser for Great Aspirations!, a charitable organization ‘dedicated to helping parents inspire their children’s goals and dreams,’ involves an 11-member team (eight of whom are amateurs) attempting to re-create Admiral Robert E. Peary’s 1909 ‘last dash’ to the pole. Designed to inspire kids, the expedition enlists high school students to guide the team using satellite images provided by NASA, and issues daily updates and science activities via the Web. It ends in early May with the world’s first telephone call and live Web-cast from the top of the globe.
United Media licensing executive April Heeren says property owner Tom Wilson Jr., son of the creator of Ziggy, jumped at the chance to license out the character pro bono for the trip. ‘He was very excited about the idea, as we are, because it was such a perfect fit for Ziggy,’ she says. ‘He’s the kind of character who suffers through the daily trials of life and yet still comes out on top.’ Ziggy is appearing on the Great Aspirations! Web site (www.aspirations.com) and all promotional material for the expedition. Wilson is also drawing the expedition’s progress into his syndicated strip.
Heeren adds that the character has been licensed out at no charge to other charitable organizations in the past, including The Leukemia Society, the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army. Recent paid licensing activities include signing on L.A.-based Kelly Toys to produce plush toys, backpacks and key chains starting this Christmas, a licensed pavilion at Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure amusement park, set to open in Orlando, Florida this summer, and a deal with Anaheim, California-based Stampendous to produce rubber stamps.