Widening its portfolio of book-based properties, New York’s Silver Lining Productions is working its merch magic on the 70-title catalogue of renowned children’s author Eric Carle. With a brand-new style guide in tow, Silver Lining is actively scouting for licensees to capitalize on Carle’s distinctive artistic style.
While Carle is best known for his 1969 classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which has sold more then 20 million copies in 30 languages worldwide, Silver Lining CEO Amory Millard says his combined publishing portfolio still sells more than three million copies in the U.S. every year, and his website (www.eric-carle.com) attracts more than 30,000 unique visitors a month. Carle’s also still churning out new material: Penguin’s Mister Seahorse spent 21 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list in 2004, and HarperCollins will put out 10 Little Rubber Ducks next month.
Silver Lining wants to achieve brand consistency with the library’s consumer products program. It reps Carle’s entire collection worldwide, including forthcoming books, and intends to give licensees a crack at the complete ouvre rather than focusing on just one or two characters at a time.
Millard wants products to reflect Carle’s colorful and unique tissue paper collage pictures, and for the first phase of the program, she’s looking for licensees in plush, puzzles, games and apparel. Carle’s pre-Silver Lining licensees – Briar Patch (games), Peaceable Kingdom (cards) and Lunt Silversmiths (infant gifts) – will stay on-board and switch over to product designed under the new style guide. Millard thinks there’s a particularly plum opportunity to create activity products that teachers could use in the classroom since Carle’s books are used in many course plans for kindergarten and grade one classes in the U.S.
Product will be aimed at kids under six, with parents and grandparents as the target consumer group. Millard says an initial range should start rolling out at mid-tier and specialty retail in 2006, and book chains will naturally be included in this mix. Once this first phase is up and running, Millard will turn her attention to landing partners in room décor and home textiles.