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Scholastic keeping Clifford on charitable track

New York-based Scholastic Media is gearing up for Clifford the Big Red Dog's big 5-0 in 2012 by steering the IP in a decidedly charitable direction. For the second year, the Be Big campaign, which urges fans of all ages to incorporate Clifford's Big Ideas into their everyday lives, is the driver for the property's consumer products and marketing promotions plans.
February 2, 2010

New York-based Scholastic Media is gearing up for Clifford the Big Red Dog’s big 5-0 in 2012 by steering the IP in a decidedly charitable direction. For the second year, the Be Big campaign, which urges fans of all ages to incorporate Clifford’s Big Ideas into their everyday lives, is the driver for the property’s consumer products and marketing promotions plans.

Clifford’s Big Ideas have been incorporated into the canine’s long-running series on PBS Kids that’s heading into its 10th season. Scholastic Media president Deborah Forte says the segments that stress positive behavior, such as playing fair and respecting others, really resonate with kids and parents. The next step for her team was to figure out how to evolve the Big Ideas further.

The answer came in the formulation of a multi-headed programming event, retail partnership, national publishing program and volunteer contest, which kicked off via a two-week programming stunt on PBS to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day last month.

The contest provides community grants to those who submit their big ideas, with an emphasis on helping the community. New corporate sponsor American Family Insurance is contributing US$25,000 to the US$50,000 Be Big fund, which will be disbursed among worthy applicants.

‘The ideas [we've received] have been for everything from building a community playground that allows handicap children to play with those who are not, to planting trees in communities that suffer from high rates of skin melanoma,’ says Forte. ‘These are really thoughtful and smart things, and a lot of them reference episodes of Clifford as the inspiration for the idea.’

To further support the contest, managed with the help of US nonprofit The HandsOn Network, Scholastic has joined again with FAO Schwarz. The specialty retailer will carry exclusive Be Big Clifford plush, publishing, DVD and puzzle products in its flagship locations in New York and Las Vegas, as well as its boutiques found inside Toys ‘R’ Us locations throughout the States. ‘FAO’s been our partner from the beginning,’ says Forte. ‘It was willing to give us the support that we needed, and we knew we weren’t going to get lost there.’

A noise-making celebrity event is also scheduled for the FAO Schwarz New York store this month, but details were still under wraps at press time.

‘I think the character signifies unconditional love,’ says Forte, while trying to explain the longevity of the carmine canine. ‘You can be different, you can be naïve, you can be awkward…people relate to Clifford because everyone feels that at some point in their life, they are the odd one out.’ 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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