Looking to capitalize on Milkshake’s status as the second-most popular preschool block in the U.K., broadcaster Five is making an effort to get the brand on retail shelves. Five has just contracted London, England’s Target Entertainment as its licensing agent, and the companies are working together to ready a style guide to present to prospective licensees at Brand Licensing in London next month.
Emma Derrick, Five’s commercial development controller, has already forged a deal with home entertainment distributor 2 Entertain to create and market compilation DVDs featuring some of Milkshake’s most popular shows. (The final content lineup will depend on which property owners want to participate.)
The DVDs are slated to hit shelves in the spring, and Derrick is also working on landing a publisher to produce books for preschoolers based on the brand. This program will focus on developmental themes such as learning colors and numbers, and dealing with the first day of school. Derrick does see room for a Milkshake annual that could involve properties such as Contender’s Peppa Pig and Chorion’s Noddy, and she’s also hoping to set up a live Milkshake event to tour the U.K. in 2006.
Target, led by director of international licensing Helen Howells, will oversee consumer product licensing and development based on the brand. Howells says gender-neutral ‘make-and-do’ products for preschoolers – building on the block’s on-air craft segments – will be the centerpiece of the merch program. Toys, especially role-play SKUs that keep with the craft theme, are next on her list, and she expects the first products to start hitting shelves in fall 2006. Once these initiatives are up and running, Howells says Five and Target will begin assessing Milkshake’s licensing potential in other categories such as apparel.
While it had been rumored that Five was pursuing an in-house approach to licensing its Milkshake brand, Derrick says her department doesn’t have the manpower at this stage. But she isn’t ruling out the possibility of taking on third-party property management (à la Super RTL in Germany) further down the line. For now, however, she says the threat of shrinking ad revenues to kids programming is ever-present, and the more Milkshake can do to stand on its own two feet, the better.