Property: Burundis: The Net Gang
Owner: Miami-based BouncyNet
Concept: Began as a greeting card line in `94
Description: Eight zany aliens from some far-off galaxy abandon their ship, and through some technical transmogrification, crash-land directly onto the Internet. The Burundis’ goal is to escape the Web and return to their home planet, but to do so, they will have to battle computer viruses and other Net ne’erdowells.
Demo: Males and females, 14 to 24
The Latest: BouncyNet has inked a deal with Mexican broadcaster Televisa, which will air one-minute animated Burundis interstitials throughout Latin America starting in 2001. Called Burundis: The Net Gang, the eps appeared first as Spanish-language webisodes on the property’s site (burundis.com) in July. BouncyNet plans to introduce English- and Portuguese-
language versions by the fall.
According to BouncyNet COO Mary Carmen, the company is using the Web to build an audience for the property internationally, and then will use it as a platform to try to sell the show and the licensing program into new territories.
Potential: Launched in `98, offering free downloadable screensavers, desktop characters and e-mail, Burundis.com continues to be a hot site with kids and teens, attracting a monthly average of 10 million page views per month, according to Carmen. BouncyNet has 20 licensees on-board, making a variety of merch, including Burundis socks, stationery, party items, slippers and bed linen. Recent licensing agreements include a deal with Gillette, which is making Burundis-branded pens and pencils. The line will hit stores in Mexico this fall. According to Carmen, a licensing deal with a large U.S.-based greeting cards manufacturer is also close to being finalized. Much of the Burundis merch will be sold through the four Burundis.com stores located in Mexico City. BouncyNet’s long-term goal is to franchise out the stores into territories wherever the program is airing, as a way of guaranteeing retail distribution of licensed Burundis product.
Market Reality Check: With the addition of TV exposure, the popularity of Burundis with teens and tweens should continue to increase moderately in Latin America, predicts Felix Gonzalzes, an agent at Mexico City-based Union Internacional, which manages licensing programs for Power Rangers and Dragon Ball Z in Latin America. He adds that the solid distribution that Burundis merch already has at mass retailers in Latin America should ensure that extending the property into categories like plush and apparel will be successful. That said, Gonzalzes believes the look of the Burundis may be too similar, and would be more palatable to consumers and potential licensees if BouncyNet reworked the appearance of each character so that they were substantially different.
Property: 1) Atomic Babes 2) Flux Deluxe
Owners: Both the brainchild of London-based Santoro Licensing
Concept: Both properties began as stationery, greeting card and handbag lines, which Santoro launched at teen retail outlets in the U.K. Flux hit in February `99, and Atomic Babes followed in February of this year.
Description: Atomic Babes are 15 ethnically-diverse teen girls with street credibility to spare. Santoro is still working out the backstory to the property and the characters’ identities, but it’s safe to say each will be able to expound at length on the differences between khakis and cargoes. No less hip, but definitely more retro, Flux Deluxe are South Park-esque disco-dancing characters that hail from the nether regions of funkiness. Santoro has given each of the 50 characters a funky designation (see Funky Randy and Kitty the Pussycat) and catchphrase. Plans are in the works to add 22 new characters to the property by the fall.
Demo: Atomic Babes: girls 12 to 19; Flux Deluxe: boys and girls 12 to 19
The Latest: At press time, Santoro was days away from signing a deal with a U.S.-based prodco to develop both properties into animated series.
Potential: Though the company has been deluged with pitches from potential licensees for every category under the sun (including one company that wants to produce animated shorts of Flux and Atomic Girls that kids can watch on their cell phones), Meera Santoro says she will beg off signing a ton of licensees until the TV deal for both properties has been finalized. Currently, licensed Atomic Babe and Flux Deluxe products-including bedding, clubwear, confectionery and toiletries-are distributed at stores in the U.K., Germany, Australia, Canada and the U.S. Santoro recently inked a deal with U.S. specialty toy chain FAO Schwarz to carry Santoro-produced Flux and Atomic stationery and greeting cards.
Market Reality Check: Rita Bonnel Illig, VP at L.A.-based manufacturing consultant Gary Caplan Inc., says tweens and teens will likely find the colorful graphic elements of each property appealing, and believes both should achieve niche success as accessory and apparel lines. ‘There are of plenty specialty stores that cater to the tween and teen markets, like Mervyns and Limited II, which are always on the lookout for new and creative properties,’ says Illig. That suits Meera Santoro fine, who says she wants to nurture the cool cachet of Flux and Atom for as long as possible by limiting distribution of merch for both properties to upstairs accounts initially. ‘Obviously, we don’t want something like Flux or Atomic Babes in Wal-Mart right away because it wouldn’t seem hip to teens,’ says Santoro.
Though he believes the high number of Flux Deluxe characters increases the potential collectibility factor of the property, Mike Carlisle, president of Toronto-based Telegenic Licensing, says Santoro might have better success skewing the licensing programs for both properties-but in particular, Atomic Girls-to a younger demo. ‘Today’s teenage girls aren’t interested in supporting licensed entertainment merchandise,’ says Carlisle. ‘They’re more focused on fashion brands. It’s like when the Spice Girls were hot-you didn’t see 17-year-old girls wearing Spice Girl T-shirts. It was the eight-, nine- and 10-year-olds who were driving that craze.’