Drawing on a groundswell of interest from across Europe and North America, Fox Kids Europe has acquired pan-Euro and Middle Eastern licensing rights to Korean web property Pucca.
Created in 2000 by Seoul, Korea-based Vooz Entertainment as an on-line e-card service, the property spawned a domestic merchandising program in 2001 that has since spilled over into China, Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Japan. Pucca now boasts more than 60 licensees across Asia.
European awareness grew through counterfeit Pucca product and parallel imports from Asia. While it may be an enviable problem to have, the property is already a little too popular, and the challenge for Fox Kids’ consumer products division Active Licensing Europe will be to slow the momentum slightly. Taking Pucca into high-end channels for its initial launch phase should accomplish that goal. The teen-targeted program will be fashion-driven, encompassing apparel, accessories, housewares, mobile phone accessories, giftware and stationery. Promotions will be kept very tight, limited to the realm of celebrity endorsements and costumed character appearances.
Fashion-forward character properties are an Asian specialty, so what differentiates Pucca from the rest of the pack? ‘Before Pucca, the color red was never used for character properties in Korea. It’s seen as too strong, and pastel colors were much more popular,’ says Hoi Young Hur, Vooz’s assistant manager of business development. Active Licensing UK licensing director Stephen Gould feels that the character’s personality – an aggressive, proactive woman who knows what she wants and goes after it – should appeal to a broad spectrum of girls and young women. ‘There are various emotional hooks that she tweaks,’ says Gould. ‘She’s successful; she has a pin-up idol in Garu (the boyfriend she’s perpetually chasing); and there are elements of music and humor.’
Vooz is hard at work creating sub-characters to expand the property’s universe, and the company is currently sourcing partners to co-produce Pucca interstitials and an animated TV series for 2005. Active Licensing Europe is already planning for the series launch, at which point it expects to drive the property down to younger consumers and bring it into mass. ‘If you look at characters like Hello Kitty, she has different looks for different sectors,’ says Gould. ‘I think that’s what we’ll have to do to maintain the credibility and interest – we’re appealing to girls ages four to 35.’ Active will likely develop three main looks for the character – Pucca Couture, Pucca Chic and Pucca Kids.
The agency is negotiating 25 to 30 contracts with Pucca licensees in the U.K. Initial product is due to hit retail this October, with the main push coming in spring 2004 at Britain’s Spring Fair. Meanwhile, Vooz is signing deals with agents in North America, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.