AS part of a five-year campaign to grow the profile and portfolio of its licensing arm, Random House UK has big plans to maximize the multi-brand strength of the Milkshake license it picked up in fall 2006 to kick things off.
The company bought the book rights to Five’s blockbuster preschool brand in the UK and Ireland and is developing branded preschool activity books to roll out in January, and a 64-page hardcover featuring stories and activities for August. RHUK publisher Fiona Macmillan says the books will center around early learning games touching on colors, shapes, counting, spot the difference and common words. But none of the titles will spotlight a singular show or character because RHUK intends to push the umbrella brand and its inherent values as a whole.
The activity books may feature ‘guest appearances’ by characters from the block’s shows, including Fifi and the Flowertots (Chapman Entertainment) and Hana’s Helpline (S4C), but these drop-ins will only involve a one-image endorsement-type treatment – and only where it makes sense from a content perspective. So if a title contains a gardening theme, for example, Fifi might appear on the opening page to introduce the activity to kids.
As for phase two, RHUK licensing development director Mary Vacher says the company may look at craft products that tie in with the broadcast platform. One idea that’s being tossed around is a make-your-own-birthday-card book that encourages children to send their creations in to Five to potentially be featured on-air.
Vacher wants to do more licensing deals this year, especially involving an evergreen franchise and a multi-property partnership with a large studio. She’d also like to connect with developing properties to build a relationship that will be humming along nicely when it comes time to look at merch. Her team will be at Brand Licensing and Frankfurt Book Fair this fall working towards both goals.