Getting set to celebrate his 60th anniversary, Curious George is still going strong. In fact, everybody’s favorite little monkey will be the top banana in upcoming promotions with Yoplait’s Yumsters Yogurt, Sbarro restaurants and Lifetouch Portrait Studios.
Representing Curious George’s licensing rights since it partnered with book publisher Houghton Mifflin in 1997, Universal Consumer Products Group has been credited with re-launching the property as a global brand and growing its revenues by 500%.
Careful promo timing and limited exposure at retail has been a key element to this process. Overexposure is a big concern, and USCPG will continue to position Curious George as a timeless classic, according to Jill Jones, executive VP of creative and marketing for the Group.
A Curious George TV spot for MasterCard International’s national ‘Priceless’ campaign, encouraging reading to kids, has increased the brand’s book sales by 20%. The commercial (featuring new cel animation inspired by classic book artwork) and a related print campaign in national consumer magazines debuted last September and will run through August.
Hitting grocery shelves this month and running through May, more than a million packs of Yoplait’s Yumsters Yogurt will feature an on-pack offer for a Curious George block puzzle.
Also starting this month, a Sbarro kids meal promotion will feature four Curious George premiums (350,000 in total) that tie into themes from the famed book series. There is a balancing toy, a ring toss, and also up for grabs is a five-inch inflatable ball and a gravity ball with a George figurine inside that remains upright even while the ball is rolling. The promo, running in 75% of Sbarro’s 920 locations until June, is supported in restaurants on the kids meal bags and three special pizza slice boxes. In-store signage includes POPs and counter cards.
With new photo backgrounds showcasing George in 450 JCPenney retail stores in the U.S., Lifetouch Portrait Studios wants kids to monkey around for the camera. The portrait promo runs from July to the end of September, and Gund, Universal’s plush partner, is providing stuffed Curious George dolls for kids to pose with. Children also receive a color form activity premium with every session. A coupon mailing, in-mail POP, and store advertising will support. Plans for donating part of the proceeds from the photo sessions to a charitable organization were in the works at press time.
The publicity push for George’s 60th anniversary began in New York last December with the announcement of new licensees Brio, Vtech, Mattel and Fisher-Price. Next up is a very heavy Q4 promotion campaign, still under wraps.