Franklin preschoolpromo

Retailer: Sears...
April 1, 2000

Retailer: Sears

Promotion: Exclusive Franklin apparel and accessories program

Number of Participating Stores: 850

Length of Promotion: One year

Like the turtle from the well-known children’s fable, Franklin’s ascent has been a slow but steady affair. A perennial in the specialty toy market for most of its 14-year existence, the preschool publishing and Nick Jr. TV property is poised to hit mainstream U.S. retail in a major way thanks to an exclusive merchandising and marketing agreement that Franklin’s licensor Toronto-based Nelvana recently signed with department store chain Sears Roebuck.

The deal, which runs from this summer to spring 2001, gives the Chicago-based retailer exclusive distribution rights for a select number of licensed Franklin products, including apparel and accessories, costumes, footwear and home furnishings, as well as some nonexclusive items, like toys, games and books.

Sears will house all of the merch in special themed boutiques, launching in mid-July, that will closely resemble the forest where Franklin lives, as depicted in the books and the TV show. The areas will also feature talking animatronic-like figures, as well as Franklin video and musical elements.

Banners positioned at Sears store entrances will highlight the program and the Franklin areas to consumers.

Promotionally, Sears is coordinating a number of initiatives with Nelvana that are designed to tie in with themes found in the Franklin books and TV series; these will hit during key shopping seasons like back-to-school, Halloween and Christmas.

Many of the promos will boast special consumer deals along the lines of gift-with-purchase or purchase-with-purchase, which Sears, in conjunction with Nelvana and its Franklin licensees, are currently working on, says Sid Kaufman, executive VP of worldwide merchandising at Nelvana.

Kicking off with the Franklin back-to-school promotion in September, the Sears marketing campaign will consist primarily of parent-directed TV and print advertising, and will receive added exposure through Sears circulars, which it will distribute via major dailies throughout the U.S. Nelvana and Franklin licensees will provide further marketing support by running print ads in parenting pubs.

According to Nelvana co-CEO Michael Hirsch, the Sears program will help push North American sales of licensed Franklin merchandise to US$100 million this year, and to worldwide sales of US$150 million by the end of 2001. The agreement is also significant because it marks the first time in Nelvana’s history that it has inked a deal of this size with a major U.S. retailer.

‘These kinds of opportunities are very difficult to bring to fruition because of the competition in the preschool arena and because not many retailers are taking positions on properties. There’s just not a lot of doors you can knock on these days,’ says Kaufman.

The program will help Sears to enhance its appeal as a shopping destination for new families with young kids, a customer demo that the retailer began targeting in earnest last year when it ran a similar promotion for Blue’s Clues, says Greg Sandfort, VP and GM for children’s apparel, toys and furniture at Sears.

‘Sears has a tremendous market share in appliances. Those new families [targeted by the Franklin program] are going to need appliances, they’re going to need furniture, bedding products, etc. Those are the customers Sears wants to have in our stores. Right now, we have an older customer base. We need to skew younger,’ says Sandfort.

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