Brand Licensing property primer

Octonauts follow up Olivia at Chorion
Brand-new 52 x 11-minute CGI series The Octonauts has been tapped for the next big push at the London-based IP house. Aimed squarely at girls and boys three to six years old, the property is relying on its unique visual style and quirky scripts to set it apart from the pack. 'It's like Star Trek meets Hello Kitty,' says Bettina Köckler, Chorion VP of licensing sales.
September 4, 2009

Octonauts follow up Olivia at Chorion
Brand-new 52 x 11-minute CGI series The Octonauts has been tapped for the next big push at the London-based IP house. Aimed squarely at girls and boys three to six years old, the property is relying on its unique visual style and quirky scripts to set it apart from the pack. ‘It’s like Star Trek meets Hello Kitty,’ says Bettina Köckler, Chorion VP of licensing sales.

The series follows a crew of cute critters as they explore the ocean from an undersea ‘Octopod’ base. With high-profile presales to CBeebies, ABC Australia and TF1 (France), Köckler feels the 2010 broadcast launch should be able to support a back-to-school merch rollout in 2011. ‘Our primary categories are going to be publishing, toys, playsets,’ she says. Secondary categories will include apparel, home entertainment and accessories. And while some deals are already in the works, Chorion expects to use Brand Licensing to ink more partners as well as expand programs for Mr. Men, Olivia and Noddy.

BBC Worldwide makes preschool pig a priority
The UK’s largest homegrown licensor BBC Worldwide is hoping that 2010 will be the year of the pig. While bringing a full complement of IPs to the show, Richard Hollis, head of UK licensing for BBCW, says new preschool property Wibbly Pig is a focus for his team.

The cute pig from author Mark Inkpen’s book series is the star of a 52 x 10-minute 2-D toon from UK-based Wish Films and Toronto, Canada’s 9 Story Entertainment. While the series is going to air in major markets this fall, Hollis is busy looking for partners in a variety of categories, including nursery toys, plush toys, apparel and gifts, to launch the UK licensing program through a retail exclusive in early 2010.

Also on BBCW’s priority list is dirgirlworld from Australia’s mememe Productions and Toronto’s Decode Entertainment. The music-centric preschool series aims to instill environmental awareness in kids three to seven years old and is slated to air on CBeebies in November. As for its consumer products possibilities, Hollis says dirtgirlworld‘s unique photo-real collage style is unlike anything in the current preschool market and, as such, he’s looking for partners in slightly up-market, design-heavy categories like accesories, apparel and stationery.

BRB betting on Suckers
Spanish prodco and distributor BRB Internacional is making its first appearance at the show this year and has a truckload of properties coming with it. Taking the pole position is 104 x two-minute CGI comedy series The Secret Life of Suckers that depicts the daily routines of various car plushes that long for more interesting lives. The series has already attracted a major broadcast deal with Jetix Europe that should carry over to channels transitioning to Disney XD in the next few months. It’ll have placement in Germany, the UK, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Hungary and Poland. Along with the broadcast deal, Jetix also holds the consumer products and home entertainment rights across most of Europe and the Middle East.

BRB International licensing director Michel Monier will be looking for partners in a variety of categories, including plush, gifts and apparel, and believes the property has the ability to age-up in certain areas. ‘We are thinking about lifestyle products too,’ he says. ‘We can work it like Hello Kitty to develop this series into a real brand.’

Also making their debut at BL are preschool IP Canimals and Kambu. Canimals, the series, is in early development, but Monier believes the In The Night Garden-ish show will lend itself well to plush. Also in early development is Kambu – the story of a big white dog and his adventures – and Monier says the time is right to start talking to potential partners in all key preschool categories, including toys, home video and publishing.

Preschool preoccupies Classic Media
After the much-publicized buyout last April, Classic Media is getting back down to business with the launch of two new preschool series this fall. Both Tinga Tinga Tales (Tiger Aspect) and Guess with Jess go to air on CBeebies in October, so executive director of marketing and consumer products Andrew Kerr is looking to fill category holes post-haste. Tinga has Penguin on-board for publishing and the ink was drying on a global master toy deal at press time. Postman Pat spin-off Guess with Jess, meanwhile, has Egmont taking the publishing lead with Fisher-Price acting as global master toy partner. So Kerr is on the hunt for secondary category licensees, such as textile and apparel, and will be looking to ink those deals at the event. ‘Both brands benefit from exceptional style guides that emphasize the importance of long-term success in soft goods,’ says Kerr, who’s also interested in discussing direct-to-retail possibilities for room décor and housewares categories for Tinga.

Decode making merch moves
Prodco Decode Entertainment, based in Toronto, is putting a priority on finding a master toy partner for CGI preschool series Animal Mechanicals. While the 55 x 11-minute toon will be slotted into more international markets this fall, its current placement on Disney UK, CBC (Canada) and EBS (Korea) has whetted the appetites of some consumer products players. The tale of transforming animals that inhabit an island city has a toyetic appeal that director of marketing and communications Polly Beel believes will translate into a robust licensing program. ‘We are certainly looking at plush, playsets, figurines and creating transforming animals,’ she says. ‘Publishing and games should be strong too.’ While currently close to securing the initial home entertainment deal, Beel says Decode is looking to roll out a program at UK mass retail by fall 2010.

Imira detecting licensing interest
Barcelona, Spain-based Imira Entertainment is banking on 26 x half-hour animated series Sandra the Fairytale Detective to turn prospective partners’ heads at BL. ‘We are thinking about books, DVDs, stationery and back-to-school categories,’ says Mar Gaya, international merchandising manager, referring to the initial merch program for the girls six to 11 property. While already sewing up broadcast distribution with blue-chippers like Disney (Spain, Germany, India and Italy), TF1 (France) and Nickelodeon Asia, Gaya is confident the ‘fairy tales with a twist’ property will translate well to a mass-market program. After self-producing a successful test range of bookmarks and calendars featuring the titular character and her ever-eating alien sidekick Po for the Spanish market, at press time Gaya was in the process of closing DVD and publishing deals in an undisclosed market to kick-start a larger program.

Olly in the spotlight at Moonscoop
While hesitant to single out just one priority, Cynthia Money, president of worldwide consumer products and marketing, says preschool CGI series Dive Olly Dive! is taking precedent at the show. The 52 x half-hour series is rolling out its second season across Europe and in the US on PBS Kids Sprout, and Money’s looking to lock down a major toy partner to get the ball rolling on a mass-market licensing program for those territories.

Also, CGI series Hero 108, which bowed at Licensing Show in Vegas, has since landed US toyco Playmates as its master toy partner. Money is now on the lookout for interested international partners. ‘Apparel will be a big category,’ she says. ‘Video games are also a natural.’

Additionally, with Bandai signed on as master toy partner for preschool girls series Chloe’s Closet, Moonscoop is now looking for complementary licensees, particularly educational product manufacturers. ‘We absolutely see it working in role-play, costumes, educational learning and apparel,’ says Money. ‘We are super-excited about the arts and craft category, too.’

Locking in local licensees for Airbender
Clare Piggott, VP for Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products UK, is using the show to talk up July 2010 big-budget feature The Last Airbender from director M. Night Shyamalan. Based on the Nick series Avatar: The Last Airbender, the film has already secured global master toy partner Spin Master and she’s tasked with rounding out the roster for the UK program. Finding publishing and interactive partners is at the top of Piggott’s to-do list.

Walker Books celebrates Maisy’s 20th

UK-based Walker Books is attending BL for the first time in an effort to amp up Maisy Mouse’s merch presence. ‘We will be working hard to raise her profile for the 21st century,’ says Judy Burdsall, licensing director. While citing publishing as a key category, Walker also is developing new toy, apparel and home entertainment lines with an emphasis on drawing out Maisy’s appeal as an older sibling to toddlers. With a roster of 62 licensees globally, Walker is looking for licensees in categories such as luggage, accessories, melamine and stationery. The big push for the property will focus on its 20th anniversary.

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


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