With its 20-plus-year heritage in the U.K., Entertainment Rights’ Postman Pat has an impressive 98% awareness with the country’s moms and caregivers. But now that the revamped series (originally commissioned by the BBC for a 2004 launch) is airing HBO Family in the States, the London, England-based IP owner is pursuing promotional partnerships to help Pat work his way into the hearts and minds of U.S. gatekeepers.
Enter an obvious choice: The United States Postal Service. In April, ER and the USPS signed a promotional agreement involving England’s favorite mail carrier. And thanks to some great timing, Postman Pat was a major participant in the States’ largest philatelic exhibition, which took place over the last week of May this year. He left his fictional home in Greendale and set off to Washington to do walkabouts, interact with the attendees through letter-writing activities and screen episodes at the conference that’s held only once every 10 years.
ER struck up the partnership with the USPS after landing its HBO Family deal in Q3 2005. Beyond the two entities’ obvious connection, the USPS signed with the series with the hope kids could make the connection between the series’ themes of community and sharing to translate into hobby-heavy endeavours such as collecting stamps. For ER, having Postman Pat onboard with the post office gives the brand a direct interactive experience with consumers to help grow its fan base.
Leading up to the event, USPS distributed Postman Pat Activity Packs to 5,000 classrooms in the six states surrounding Washington D.C. to both promote school trips to the conference and have students from junior kindergarten to grade three interact with the character. HBO Family will also include Postman Pat in its cable in the classroom initiative, potentially reaching 90,000 schools in the U.S., and Barnes & Noble stores have agreed to carry the brand’s sound books from Publications International Limited.
Kathleen Hricik, executive VP and managing director of ER’s U.S., Canadian and Latin American pursuits, says in the multi-platform universe, it’s increasingly difficult to make a brand front of mind for kids. ‘It’s not a matter of just popping a television series onto a platform and hoping it sticks with the audience,’ she explains.
The promotional work has encouraged ER to brainstorm more opportunities with the USPS. Although it’s early days, Hricik suggests some themes may look at how to reach moms and caregivers because they’re key to what their kids watch, when it comes to preschoolers. ‘Whether it’s through viral pursuits or mommy groups, we’re looking at other ways to extend the awareness.’
Beyond new marketing initiatives, Hricik and her team are also looking at old-school merch plans as well. ER is hitting the floor at the Licensing Show to lock down a U.S. master toy licensee for a 2008 product launch. Hricik says potential publishing deals and home entertainment are also on the radar.