For 60 years, The Wizard of Oz has continually awed audiences with unforgettable stories, images, songs and phrases that have become indelibly etched on the psyche of generations of viewers. Now, Warner Bros. Consumer Products is hoping to awe a new wave of young girls with Dorothy-inspired products to coincide with the anniversary rerelease of the film this month on video and DVD.
According to Rob Gruen, executive VP of worldwide marketing and retail business development at Warner Bros. Consumer Products, there aren’t a lot of strong characters that appeal to pre-teen and young girls, which makes the special girl appeal of Dorothy and other The Wizard of Oz characters fortuitously attractive as a licensing proposition. According to a study by Cartoon Q tracking from May 1998, 92% of girls in that age category were familiar with The Wizard of Oz characters. ‘Clearly, the movie appeals more to the female gender than to males. It’s one of the first movies that really showed the power of what a young girl could do and the impact she has on people’s lives.’
The division has launched an entire licensing program based on The Wizard of Oz, specifically aimed at girls ages two to 11, including an extensive clothing line by New York’s Cakewalk Apparel. The clothing, which is split into two lines-a sportier line based on Dorothy and a pastel-hued, softer line based on Glinda the Good Witch-will debut this month in Warner Bros. Studio Stores and will be available in department stores like Nordstrom and Bloomingdales in spring 2000. Other products like Dorothy and Toto sock-top slippers by Florida-based BBC International will be available at mass and department stores next month.
New Oz-based toys are also on the market. Mattel has launched a line of collectible Wizard of Oz Barbie porcelain figurines and ‘Barbie as’ dolls, and in May The L. L. Knickerbocker Company launched a line of baby Oz dolls as part of its Marie Osmond doll collection.
Gruen says the idea behind the new Wizard licensing program was not to create a program surrounding a single release but rather create a program with longevity that symbolized the whole film in a fashion-forward design. ‘This wasn’t let’s stick Dorothy on a T-shirt and be done with it.’
‘If this was something that was purely movie-related, I would say frankly, it won’t work. But we’re talking about friendship and a girl and her dog-these are timeless scenarios that all happen to be reflected in one movie. Girls three to eight always seem to like those values and as long as the merchandise is done right I think there’s a real opportunity for it to continue.’
He adds that the Wizard’s continued presence on television will help introduce upcoming generations to the property. The 1939 classic airs November 21 on TBS.