Property: Maggie and the Ferocious Beast
Description: The property began as a Simon & Schuster children’s book by Betty and Michael Paraskevas. Now a lighthearted animated preschool series, Maggie and the Ferocious Beast premiered this year on Nick Jr., debuted in Canada in August on Teletoon, and has been sold to international broadcasters including Nickelodeon in the U.K. and La Cinquieme and TPS in France, as well as to German distributor RTV Family Entertainment.
Demo: Preschool to 11
Concept: The series is set in five-year-old Maggie’s imaginary world Nowhere Land. Maggie’s best friends are Hamilton Hocks and the Ferocious Beast, a bounding red-and-yellow polka dot creature with a heart of gold.
Licensees: Applause (plush), Sandylion Stickers (stickers), Simon & Schuster (publishing), Great American Puzzle Factory (puzzles), Kidz Kraze (inflatable Beast chair), Cadaco (board game), AME (sleepwear), Children’s Apparel Network (outerwear/sportswear), Worldwide Dreams (knapsacks/backpacks), Rick’s Products (tin lunch boxes, jewellery holders), Franco Manufacturing (bedding), J. Franco (towels).
Potential: Six weeks following the show’s premiere on Nick Jr., it finished number one in the U.S. national Nielsen ratings among kids two to five, delivering an 8.1 rating and 37 share for the week ending July 16, 2000. ‘The ratings through the summer were phenomenal,’ says Andrew Witkin, VP of North American licensing for Nelvana. ‘Maggie was on average in the top three shows for Nick Jr., and that’s with a limited number of episodes and without the history the other shows had.’
Currently enjoying 13 half-hour episodes on Nick Jr., Nelvana is in the process of developing another 13 for 2001. ‘It’s pretty similar to what we’ve done with Little Bear,’ says Witkin. ‘You know, try to get 13 half hours every year to keep it fresh.’ The show is fresh in the minds of parents, who are inundating Nelvana’s website with feedback on Maggie. Witkins claims that the amount of parental feedback regarding the show’s characters and stories is fairly unprecedented for Nelvana.
Initial product based on the show’s characters is expected to hit U.S. retail this month in the specialty toy category. Board games, apparel, bedding and accessories will roll out in 2001. Nelvana is currently in talks with toy companies to launch a few key items in the mass market for fall 2001, but Witkin says that in the first year of the licensing program, Zany Brainy and FAO Schwartz will have Maggie pretty much to themselves. ‘The world of Maggie is an incredible, almost surreal kind of landscaped world and it’s something that in our product we’re really trying to flesh out,’ says Witkin. ‘I think that what we’ll hopefully do very well is pick up on the whole imaginative quality of the show and really embellish that in product.’
While Maggie’s world is surreal, her licensing program is firmly rooted in reality. ‘We are much more pragmatic, rather than hyping and overheating a property,’ says Sid Kaufman, Nelvana’s executive VP of worldwide merchandising. ‘We want to continue to make more episodes and kind of nurture Maggie and the Ferocious Beast into its potential, rather then getting ahead of ourselves or promising unrealistic expectations.’ Witkin agrees. ‘It’s a special property for us, so instead of just blanketing and putting a lot of stuff out there, we’re trying to do less stuff with greater quality,’ he says. ‘It’s a big part of our plans over the next two years.’
Plans for Maggie include expansion into Europe and Asia. Nelvana’s manager of international licensing, Tonya Lindo, says that over the long-term, the company is looking at a broadcast deal in Korea and merchandising programs in France, Germany and the U.K.
Market reality check: Katerina Dietrich, director of entertainment at Copyright Promotions Licensing Group’s German office, thinks that Maggie has all the essentials in place to become a German merchandising hit. According to Dietrich, RTV Family Entertainment is the right partner to get the right time slot and marketing strategy behind the program and to get the message out. ‘It’s like a quality approval for the series to be with RTV Family Entertainment,’ she says.
‘I think it’s a very clean, very cute concept, and it can be supported by the parents, which you need for this target group,’ says Dietrich. ‘It could be ferocious.’