With U.S. toycos noting post-9/11 sales spikes for police/fire/rescue-oriented toy lines and action figures, blue collar status has risen considerably in consumer ranks. Now the oldest police force in the U.S.–the New York Police Department–is entering the merch fray, and the program itself needs strict policing.
‘A lot of what we’ve had to do before getting out into the retail marketplace is work on cleaning up the infringement activity that has increased significantly since September 11,’ says Joanne Loria, VP at New York-based agency The Joester Loria Group–agent for NYPD brand owner The New York City Police Foundation. Jeffrey Laytin, counsel for the Foundation and partner at New York law firm Salans, Christy & Veiner, is spearheading the enforcement effort. On the merch side, official hang tags and labels bearing the NYPD shield emblem will be required by official licensees on all product.
With infringement in check, Loria and her group are developing the kid-centric portion of a three-pronged NYPD program that also encompasses a limited adult range–licensee SGI launched the apparel-led program in Q4 2001 at The Federated–and a souvenir range akin to the ‘I love NY’ program.
The initial Q4 2002 kid range will focus on apparel, toys and publishing, with The Joester Loria Group turning away more ideas than it has welcomed. ‘We don’t just want this to be a numbers game with a licensee list and product saturating the market–there’s no sense of purpose to that,’ says Loria. ‘This is not about September 11; it’s about fostering and nurturing what came out of September 11 in terms of how Americans view police and firefighters now.’
So far, New York-based apparel manufacturer Changes has come on board for a kid/adult apparel range, with The Joester Loria Group negotiating licenses for action figures, Halloween costumes and publishing at press time. Other categories currently on the table include roleplay items, playsets and electronic toys/games.
Asked whether there are kid-targeted entertainment plans in the works for NYPD, Loria says that publishing will remain the program’s main form of media–for now. Towards that end, Loria says her group is looking to develop story lines that ‘kids can relate to without having it be about guns, having x-ray vision or other superpowers that previous heroes have been associated with.’ She’s also banking on international applications for publishing and toys. The U.K. offers the most immediate opportunities, although Europe and Asian territories may be explored later.