It’s been 45 years since author Kay Thompson and illustrator Hilary Knight first let the naughty but charming six-year-old loose to torment the staff and patrons of New York’s Plaza Hotel. And now, just under two years since Thompson’s death, movie, television and licensing plans are well under way.
Eloise’s reawakening kicked off when Simon & Schuster rereleased the four original books shortly after Thompson’s death, followed by a new title, due out this month, called Eloise’s Guide to Life: How to Eat, Dress, Travel, Behave and Stay Six Forever.
Then last year, The itsy bitsy Entertainment Company grabbed the film, TV and merchandising rights for the property and got the ball rolling on a two-phase licensing campaign.
Phase one is based on licensing the classic Eloise from the original books. ‘Our strategy is to build the brand in the specialty and upstairs marketplace first,’ says Kim Winkeleer, itsy bitsy’s executive director of off-screen entertainment. Merchandise such as dolls and board games began rolling out late last year, and new licensees such as Guerilla Biscuit, Learning Curve and Schylling signed on in March, bringing the number of classic licensees up to 12 at press time.
The next phase of the licensing campaign will center on a planned animated series and two upcoming films, the first of which is slated for a summer 2002 release. Product for this program will be modeled after an animated Eloise appearing at the beginning and end of the live-action features. Winkeleer says deals with studios and a broadcaster should be announced this month.
Dolls will be key in the feature-based program, with doll houses, games and activity sets also figuring prominently.
Upcoming promos for the franchise include circular ads from Zany Brainy this summer, a Barnes & Noble in-store promo featuring licensed merch and events running fall through holiday, as well as a rash of other in-store promos at specialty retailers slated for holiday 2000.
(books & book characters)
boys (6-11): 62
girls (6-11): 50