Betting that US tween girls are still keen on all things high school, but in the mood for something edgier than Disney’s squeaky-clean offerings, Paramount Licensing is mounting a girl-targeted program around the first high-school musical – Grease.
The 1978 song-and-dance extravaganza is turning 30, and Darren Kyman, executive director of marketing and retail development at Paramount Licensing, says the anniversary-edition DVD hitting US retail this September should help build momentum for the planned spring ’09 launch of the tween program. So far, more than 2.5 million copies of film have been sold in DVD format, and Paramount Home Entertainment Group research has revealed that Grease has a high awareness with families. The stage version of the musical is also still performed regularly in schools and summer camps throughout the country.
So in an effort to appeal to tween girls, the Grease style guide has segmented out a ‘Milkshake’ treatment of the property that revolves around the hoopla of Rydell High – think cheerleading, lettermen sweaters and the Pink Ladies. The color palette is also much softer than the one designated for the adult designs, relying on pastel hues and images culled from the lighter moments of the film, like the cartoon of parading popsicles that plays on the drive-in screen while Danny croons ‘Sandy.’
Typical, however, for a program aimed at this demographic, are the target product categories. Kyman says he’s currently on the hunt for apparel and accessories manufacturers to lead the program into US mall-based specialty retailers that have high tween traffic, including Limited Too and Claire’s.
Certainly, collectors make up a good share of Grease’s current merch market, and Kyman also admits that some of the more adult situations in the film – teen pregnancy, under-age drinking and some somewhat ribald song lyrics – had been off-putting to some kid-oriented licensees. However, Paramount focus group research shows that those elements aren’t what kids find most memorable about the movie; it’s the singing, dancing, high-school setting and love story they remember, and potential partners are warming up, says Kyman.
In fact, Paramount has just signed New York-based ABG Accessories for cold weather gear and L.A.’s California Costume Collections to produce kid and adult Halloween costumes. Additionally, toyco Mattel rolled out the second set of Grease-themed Barbies at mass market last month, featuring Sandy and Rizzo glammed up in their prom dresses.
Interestingly, Paramount may not be alone for long when it comes to finding new ways to attract younger consumers to classic films. At Licensing Show last month, Warner Bros. Consumer Products revealed that it is working on a tween licensing program for The Wizard of Oz, which turns 70 next year.
While she’s not ready just yet to talk in full detail, the division’s SVP of worldwide marketing and TV and studio licensing Maryellen Zarakas did say at the show that the property’s style guide had been revamped with the tween consumer in mind. And, yes, there will be ruby slippers.