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S Club 7 readies U.S. merch invasion

It's not often that a live-action tween series makes the leap from the U.K. to the U.S. successfully (especially one with Brit accents), but S Club 7 in Miami is a different sort of show, and so far, it seems to...
June 1, 2000

It’s not often that a live-action tween series makes the leap from the U.K. to the U.S. successfully (especially one with Brit accents), but S Club 7 in Miami is a different sort of show, and so far, it seems to be settling into U.S. living rooms nicely.

Featuring a young seven-member Brit pop group, the series first aired on the BBC in April 1999 and soared to the number-one U.K. kid ratings position in just five weeks. The band released its first music single the following June and proceeded to top the U.K. music charts in less than a week. Already the band, managed by London-based 19 Management’s Simon Fuller (who also represents the Spice Girls and the Eurythmics), has been sold into over 100 territories by BBC Worldwide. Last November, the Monkees-esque pop group launched in the U.S. on Fox Family.

Joel Andryc, senior VP of programming and development for Fox Family Channel, says the show clicks with its nine- to 14-year-old girl target demo because of the appealing nature of the group members, the catchy music and its aspirational draw.

‘You can see a real camaraderie between them, there’s a real friendship there,’ Andryc says. ‘It’s like when you watch Friends-you can really see the dynamics between the characters. I think as the viewers watch, they want to become their friends, become a part of that group.’

Season to date, the show is anchoring Fox Family’s Saturday morning live-action music shows with ratings hovering at about 1.3 for kids ages six to 11. As S Club 7′s ratings are more than double Fox Family’s average Saturday morning ratings of about 0.6, Andryc exercised Fox’s option to buy as soon as 13 new episodes, called S Club 7 in L.A., were made available last January. The new episodes, which show the same band exploring a new locale, will start to air this month along with two one-hour specials.

Tom Ennis, who represents the U.S. division of worldwide licensor 19 Management, says he will follow U.K. strategy when it comes to launching a merch program State-side, which means taking it easy on promotion until the band is ‘discovered’ by its tween audience. ‘What we decided to do is put out a commercial CD without any efforts to go to MTV with a video, or to go to top 40 radio with a single. We’ve sold over 120,000 copies with no promotion whatsoever,’ Ennis says, adding that this shows kids are making the connection between the show and the ‘real’ band and realizing that the band has music out there to buy.

The only other S Club 7 products out in the U.S. right now are video episodes of the show and a scrapbook, but licensed stationery products by Hong Kong-based PMS and possibly a poster and a calendar will hit shelves by the end of the summer. Master toy Hasbro will follow up with S Club 7 fashion dolls slated for release in third quarter.

Over in the U.K., the program is a little further ahead, with the BBC’s publishing and video products, including a scrapbook, one-time magazine special and an S Club 7 yearbook, having already sold over 90,000 units to date.

According to BBC Worldwide global brand manager Richard Mintz, following the two new magazines that hit shelves in May and June, the next U.K. offering is a series of seven minibooks (one for each band member) published by the BBC. Both the book series and Hasbro’s line of S Club 7 fashion dolls will make their U.K. debut this August.

Q Score

S Club 7

(real people)

boys (6-11): 21

girls (6-11): 100

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