In a licensing world where Hannah Montana and High School Musical reign, launching a property with more of an educational bent can present a bit of a challenge. But it looks like Scholastic Media is doing fine, having just signed its first toy deal for education-oriented property WordGirl with Briarpatch.
WorldGirl launched on PBS Kids as interstitials back in October 2006 and it was a slow, but steady journey that saw it begin airing weekly in September 2007 finally going to strip in June 2008. Leslye Schaefer, SVP of marketing and consumer products, says that she had been in talks with partners for a while, but the company was waiting for the property to build enough awareness before moving ahead with a toy deal.
Briarpatch, which has a long-standing relationship with Scholastic for properties I Spy and Maya & Miguel, is now on-board to develop WordGirl games and puzzles for a January 2010 launch, targeting girls and boys ages four to eight. WordGirl books from Scholastic are slated to hit shelves this month, with another rollout slated for the fall, and Paramount will look to release home entertainment either this fall or in spring 2010.
Schaefer is concentrating on launching the program at specialty retail first, with the goal of moving to mid- and mass tiers. She’s confident that the property has legs – the online hub (www.pbskids.org/wordgirl) gets roughly a million hits monthly and the site’s Favorite Word feature receives 10,000 submissions a month.
Schaefer will be at Toy Fair, seeking out other licensees to round out the program, keeping an eye out for apparel, novelty, gifts and accessories, and interactive partners. ECA