Buoyed by its ratings success on Cartoon Network, Marathon’s hit property Totally Spies! is gearing up to take on the world of tween consumer products in the U.S.
The series has made steady audience gains since its summer 2003 debut on Cartoon, and it’s currently being stripped twice daily and drawing more than a million sets of eyeballs a day. Cartoon has ordered a third season that will join its lineup in September 2004, and a fourth run has been greenlit by Marathon’s partners Fox Kids Europe and France’s TF1, bringing the total episode count up to 104 by September 2005.
While TS merch has been available in Europe for some time, Marathon president Vincent Chalvon-Demersay has been waiting for the show to build up a dedicated State-side fanbase before making moves into the U.S. retail game.
To tease the market before the full program rolls out next spring, Good Times will release a Totally Spies! video/DVD at Wal-Mart this month, followed by a line of T-shirts from Changes in June. To date, Marathon and its State-side licensing rep Bernard Prat have lined up a roster of partners that includes Simon & Schuster (publishing), Happy Kids (apparel), Tokyopop (ciné-manga), BBC International (shoes), Accessory Network (accessories), IMT (furniture, watches, clocks) and AD Sutton (school bags).
Fashion apparel for girls ages seven to 11 will be the program’s pivotal category, with publishing and video also playing key roles. Marathon would like toys to have a less-pronounced presence centered around ‘spy’ accessories such as a telephone or a pair of shoes that both cleverly morph into makeup boxes.
Chalvon-Demersay says focusing on ‘cool’ clothes that shy away from colors and patterns that appeal to younger girls, and keeping toy plans out of the doll arena, should prevent the property from skewing too young and turning off its core tween demo.
Other than a video game publishing partner, Chalvon-Demersay says he’s stocked up for now in terms of Totally Spies! licensees, but he doesn’t rule out getting into smaller categories in two or three years if the program takes off.
Editor’s note: The electronic version of this article has been edited from the original print version in order to correct or clarify some information that it contained.