IF there’s one thing the licensing industry knows about Scholastic’s Clifford, it’s that he’s big. But can the two-stories-tall dog support a two-tiered line extension into the tween and infant markets?
Nickelodeon walked its dog Blue down that path in 1999, with apparel licensee Changes in tow for a tween-market test. The New York-based company expanded the line after its Blue’s Clues baby tee debuted as the top seller out of 435 items in its Brat catalog.
Changes glommed onto Clifford in March 2002, testing a few T-shirt designs with tween retailer Hot Topic. At press time, the hip chain had already come back to Scholastic for more product.
‘I think any retailer is going to start out slow these days, and go in heavier if the product takes off,’ says Scholastic VP of consumer products Peter Van Raalte. An expanded apparel line encompassing hooded sweatshirts, visors and other accessories will hit Hot Topic shelves this summer, and Van Raalte says key chains and bags could come next.
The infant category is less of a stretch for Clifford, who started out as a pup who was loved so much that he never stopped growing. But since that target is closer to Clifford’s core demo of kids three to seven, the baby Clifford line requires a different launch strategy. ‘Our apparel is still doing really well with the three to seven crowd, so we don’t want to do that category in the infant program quite yet,’ Van Raalte notes.
Instead, Scholastic will fill in the hard goods categories first–’from baby bottles to disposable diapers.’ Van Raalte had opened talks with potential licensees at press time, but he says many of the infant categories will be up for grabs at Licensing Show this month.
While Scholastic hasn’t settled on the line’s look yet, Clifford the little red puppy is one idea under consideration. The style guide should be complete by fall, with a retail launch slated for spring 2003.
All potential partners should view Clifford’s new line extensions as limited windows of opportunity since Scholastic won’t stray from the property’s core demo in the long term. ‘We’re looking at these programs as design promotions, if that’s a category,’ says Van Raalte. ‘We don’t want to make Clifford an infant or tween property.’