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LazyTown forges fresh approach to fruit and vegetable marketing in the UK

Icelandic export LazyTown sprang onto the global kids entertainment stage in 2004 with the set goal of teaching children about the fun of leading a healthy life and the series' self-consciously positive message has been a hit on airwaves in more than 100 territories, most recently in the UK on CBeebies. But translating the property's popularity into licensing success has proven tricky.
July 27, 2009

Icelandic export LazyTown sprang onto the global kids entertainment stage in 2004 with the set goal of teaching children about the fun of leading a healthy life and the series’ self-consciously positive message has been a hit on airwaves in more than 100 territories, most recently in the UK on CBeebies. But translating the property’s popularity into licensing success has proven tricky.

For one, a healthy food tie-in – perhaps the most natural extension for the property – had eluded LazyTown Entertainment until it approached UK-based grocery chain ASDA last fall with a fresh idea. Focusing on ASDA’s in-store Great Stuff line of loose and packaged fruit, chilled meals and other healthy offerings, the IP owner pitched a promotional package that the retailer hadn’t encountered before.

Since fruit and vegetable products have notoriously razor-thin profit margins, LazyTown offered ASDA in-store entertainment and didn’t try to cut a straightforward licensing deal that would see the property’s logo applied to an apple or a pear in exchange for a royalty payment.

‘We felt we could support ASDA in terms of making the food fun and friendly and something children would request instead of something that was forced upon them,’ explains the company’s brand and licensing director for Europe, Katie Foster. ‘We wanted preschool children to pull fruits and vegetables off the shelf instead of mom or dad having to go find them.’

The program launched over the chocolate-happy Easter long-weekend in 2009 where customers at 346 ASDA locations were greeted by life-sized standees of the series’ main character Sportacus (who’s played by LazyTown’s founder and president Magnus Scheving). With the push of a button, the Sportacus cutouts dispensed pre-recorded exercise tips and sent children around the store in search of ‘sports candy’ (fruit) and LazyTown-branded recipe cards featuring healthy snacks such as mini pizzas and banana milkshakes.

The results from the first five days of the campaign speak for themselves: one million additional bags of Great Stuff apples were sold over regular numbers. Moverover, overall sales of fruits and vegetables shot up by an impressive 28% during the three-week-long promotion. ASDA mounted another LazyTown in-store promo at the end of July and should run at least one more before the year-long contract is up.

Foster expects ASDA to renew the contract, which calls for the grocer to cover all costs of the promotion and pay an undisclosed promotional fee to LazyTown Entertainment; the company’s currently looking at other grocery partners, particularly in Spain and Israel, to launch a similar program in 2010. ‘The beauty of the program is that it’s very flexible,’ says Foster. ‘It is a very easy way to get our message to children.’

Additionally, LazyTown hasn’t eschewed traditional licensing efforts. While Scheving’s been cautious when it comes to L&M activity, there’s a new toy line in the works from recently signed UK master toy partner Martin Yaffe, which intro’d the range in January 2009 at London Toy Fair. It includes action figures, scooters, skateboards and sports equipment. GR

About The Author
Gary Rusak is a freelance writer based in Toronto. He has covered the kids entertainment industry for the last decade with a special interest in licensing, retail and consumer products. You can reach him at garyrusak@gmail.com

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