Bowing to requests by exhibitors for lower prices and a date change, the seventh edition of Brand Licensing will be its last at Earl’s Court. Next year, the event will shift to London’s Olympia convention complex during the first week of October. Attendance in 2004 was up 26%, but with big players such as Disney and CPLG missing from the show floor this year and a scheduling conflict with Fall Toy Fair in New York, the jury’s still out on whether ’05 will see the same level of growth. In the meantime, there are plenty of new initiatives and business opportunities to keep the show floor hopping.
BBC takes to space with Lunar Jim
Continuing to build its portfolio of third-party properties, BBC Worldwide has picked up Alliance Atlantis’ stop-motion preschool show Lunar Jim, which is slated to bow on Cbeebies and the Beeb this spring. Global master toy partner Fisher-Price will lead the U.K. program with themed talking figures, vehicles and role-play toys heading to high street in fall ’06. Meanwhile, BBC Worldwide head of licensing Richard Hollis is looking to sign up additional licensees in toys & games, apparel, gifts, stationery, outdoor toys and food to produce ranges for spring 2007. Alliance Atlantis’ VP of merchandising and licensing, Jennifer Bennett, has also appointed Germany’s m4e and ABC Australia as regional merch agents.
Back on Earth, the Beeb has firmed up plans for Charlie and Lola, and is reaching out to up-market consumer products manufacturers that don’t normally dabble in the world of TV licensing. The hope is to translate the strong visual appeal of Tiger Aspect’s series (which goes to air on the BBC this month) into design-oriented, niche-market goods. Hollis is on the hunt for additional tableware, stationery, bags and gifts partners to round out the focused program launching in spring ’06.
Carle’s Caterpillar the silver lining in Chorion’s show portfolio
Chorion is currently mapping out a five-year plan to incorporate Silver Lining Productions into its business. The New York-based studio will keep its name, and for now, Chorion’s strategy is to avoid going ‘too far too fast,’ says director of sales and marketing Jackie Lynch.
Along with Silver Lining’s hit property Olivia and TV shows such as Max & Ruby, Chorion inherits author Eric Carle’s stable of publishing properties, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar will be the only Silver Lining asset showcased at Brand Licensing. A revamped U.S. merch program bowed earlier this year, and now Chorion is shopping it to U.K. licensees and retailers. Lynch says awareness for Caterpillar – which has sold a book every minute since it debuted in 1969 – is strong in the U.K. and should translate into solid merch opportunities. She is open to fielding offers for high-end categories, with wooden toys, plush, stationery and gifts sitting at the top of her target list.
Girls Goods a sTAR Priority
Having recently secured distribution rights on several properties, Southern Star International has ambitious plans for Brand Licensing. The Flash-animated series Faireez (produced by Australia’s Moody Street Kids and Canada’s Funbag Animation) is making its debut, and all categories are open. Centering around four fairies-in-training, the show targets girls ages five to seven and is set to bow this month on GMTV in the U.K. Product should launch in late 2006, led by toys, apparel and games.
And as the second series of tween live-actioner The Sleepover Club gets ready to launch on Nick UK in ’06, Southern Star is prepping to license the property in Britain for the first time. ITV premiered the series in January 2004, and Nick UK subsequently picked it up to broadcast later that year. However, the property had no corresponding merch presence. Kirsten Cargill, Southern Star’s video sales and licensing executive, is aiming to build a program around all things ‘pretty in pink’ for girls and will be on the hunt for jewelry, accessories and bedroom décor licensees at the show.
Southern Star will also be offering prospective partners a peek at Raggs, which arrives at Brand Licensing fresh from its TV sales debut at MIPCOM. At press time, the company was identifying key categories for the song-and-dance property that revolves around a five-member dog band. The live-action/CGI co-pro with Raggs Production is slated to air on Australia’s Seven Network soon.
CCL Tries for best in Show
Corporate Creative Licensing’s property dance card is full this year, and Cardinal Laboratories’ pet supply brand CraZy Pet is first up for a turn around the floor. With a CGI series targeting kids four to seven in development for 2007/2008, Euro licensing agent CCL is currently negotiating with manufacturers of pet-grooming items, collars, beds, rugs, blankets, scratching posts, mats, bowls and toys. Licensing director Ken Kemp’s next goal is to lock down pet food, book & magazine publishing, greeting card, stationery and home video partners across Europe, and the company is hoping to roll out 50-odd products in pet stores, gift stores and mass-market outlets next year.
Fremantle cooks up some sweet deals
Heinz, Universal Pictures and Trudeau-Euromark are already on-board as food, home entertainment and housewares licensees for live-action culinary adventure series Planet Cook, but FremantleMedia Licensing Worldwide is working on expanding the program. Landing partners in publishing, toys & games, theme-park attractions and interactive/video games a top priority for brand manager Andrew Piller’s to-do list. A focused product line from PC’s first three licensees launched at U.K. supermarket chain Sainsbury’s in October, and a larger offering should roll out at mass retailers early next year.
New Toons Top Celador’s slate
When Celador reintroduced 30-year-old property Roobarb & Custard to U.K. consumers in August, the product offering traded largely on adult nostalgia. But with a new animated series that updates the adventures of the infamous cat and dog for today’s five- to eight-year-olds currently airing in the U.K. and ready to debut on Cartoon Network US in ’06, Celador is aiming to expand the property’s merch reach. Tina-Louise Phipps, global licensing brand manager, is looking to lock down partners to produce mass-market kids products across categories including toys, home entertainment, publishing and apparel next fall.
It’s still early days for the company’s CGI-animated (not so) Scary Monsters, which is currently in development as a 39 x seven-minute series for kids two to six, but Celador is already moving forward with a strategy to build on the greeting card brand. Phipps is scouting for additional up-market licensees in home decor, accessories, apparel and gifts to participate in a holiday ’06 merch push.