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Experts say tech hooks clinch bot success

To get a temperature read on how hot the robot trend will get and what successful entries will have to do to stand out as everyone jumps on the bandwagon, we turned to our KidScreen Licensing Advisory Panel for help. This...
June 1, 2001

To get a temperature read on how hot the robot trend will get and what successful entries will have to do to stand out as everyone jumps on the bandwagon, we turned to our KidScreen Licensing Advisory Panel for help. This special task force of sector experts will be regularly called on to offer insight into relevant trends and issues explored in the magazine. Here’s what folks in the know had to say. . .

Karen McTier, executive VP of domestic licensing, Warner Bros. Worldwide Consumer Products

The key to the success of any toy is that it must have a strong, appealing play pattern.ÊOne of the reasons that many of last season’s high-tech toys failed is that they didn’t leave enough room for the child’s creativity and imagination.ÊA critical component of successful toy marketing is that the child must feel empowered, not ruled by the toy.ÊStand-out products and properties will provide a platform for creative play, instead of restricting it.Ê

The robotic theme provides a built-in futuristic element, immediately establishing that our current perceptions of reality do not limit the possibilities. Thus, there are endless looks and functionality to the new robots that can be explored in each installment of the property and exploited in the licensed product.ÊÊ

Elie Dekel, president of Saban Consumer Products

Robots are certainly hot this year, at least among the grown-ups in this business who are scambling to pull together several different, yet somehow similar robot properties. Will any of them thrive? Hopefully. The licensing and retail industries need more properties that actually sell!

The robot theme is very strong for tapping into human-machine interactions, and robots also enable kids to feel a mastery over technology, a key aspirational element.

Ultimately, each of these robot properties will succeed or fail based on their ability to entertain through good story-telling and strong, distinguishable characters. To further complicate matters, the soon-to-emerge wave of robot-related properties will be further challenged by the need for each property to clearly differentiate itself from the pack.

Tim Collins, director of HIT Consumer Products

It seems commonplace now that producers and licensors come to the market with similarly-themed concepts. Whether character-driven or tech-focused, however, there is unlikely to be room for all the new robot properties at retail, where the wheat and chaff are separated. Common threads for success are likely to be:

1. Creative concepts-for a TV series or film, this include scripts, on-screen style and quality of production, music, etc.

2. Launch timing-first out of the gate doesn’t always win, but don’t take too long launching a property that keys into a trend

3. Marketing support-essential in today’s climate, and not just limited to trade advertising

4. Partners,/b>-such as TV network, publishers, key licensees (toy)

Tim Rothwell, senior VP of licensing, merchandising and retail development at Universal Studios Consumer Products Group

Good product will always find a home at retail and eventually with the consumer. Robotic-themed products are certainly a strong trend and will continue to grow with everyone’s facination with technology. But as with any trend, the market will eventually become over-saturated with robotic products, creating a glut.

Most continuity programs successfully marketed and controlled will create a level of collectibility regardless of the category or license. Licenses will offer the category instantaneous brand recognition.

Note: If licensing isn’t your bag, but you still want to be involved, don’t fret. We’re working on rolling out similar Panels for the production & programming and advertising & promotion sectors later this year.

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