Almost immediately following the 2005 debut of hit girls toon Winx Club, Loreto, Italy-based Rainbow recognized that the series’ spritely secondary PopPixie characters had struck a chord with the show’s female fans ages six to 11. Not tempted to fast-track development, however, the prodco didn’t launch spin-off series PopPixie until fall 2010, bolstered by a slew of presales to nets like Italian pubcaster Rai, Israel’s Noga and France Télévisions that were more than eager to take a chance on the property.
Same but different
Though Winx Club had given PopPixie a head start on building brand awareness with both audiences and buyers, the concept still had to prove itself on the worldwide stage. “The properties are definitely complementary because of their core values,” says Rainbow’s Fabio Calorio. However, he explains, the formats are very different. Winx Club features 26-minute episodes feeding an epic narrative of romantic love. PopPixie (52 x 13 minutes) is a more light-hearted and surreal comedy that revolves around the ever-optimistic pixies using their individual talents—no matter how bizarre—to solve problems and get themselves out of funny situations.
For Calorio, the shorter episode length and comedic tone of the series meant negotiating for daily broadcasts and repeats, and ideally early-morning time slots, to build the show’s profile. “Wherever it was not possible at the very beginning, thanks to good ratings, we were eventually able to start daily broadcasts,” he says.
Since the mid-August launch on France 3’s Mon Ludo, the series has achieved an average audience share above 20% among its core four- to 10-year-old viewers. In October, that take reached a peak of 45%. The series also scored a record high of 58% of four- to six-year-olds on Spain’s Clan TV in October, and the same with Portuguese kids ages four to six on TVI in November.
In the meantime, in an effort to emulate the success that Winx Club has had since debuting on Nickelodeon last fall, Rainbow has been sussing out a global broadcast partner for PopPixie.
Calorio says TV promos were the starting point for the property, so creating awareness in different territories meant working with local partners to create on-air spots for the show that had a high dose of comedy. “It’s a property that allows people to play with it,” says Calorio, adding that humorous on-air promos worked particularly well in France.
Calorio explains that the second phase of the rollout is built around licensing and merchandising efforts. Rainbow worked with master toy partner Bandai in Portugal to create an on-air giveaway program—the special holiday contest held during TVI’s live morning show culminated in 20 PopPixie dolls being delivered to viewers’ homes.
“We worked together with Bandai and TVI to find something that would be good for the broadcaster and would give visibility to the property,” says Calorio.
Rainbow’s merchandising plans also include releasing the episodes on DVD and a PopPixie magazine, produced by its publishing division, that helps promote the series and related licensing programs through comics and contests. Emulating the Winx Club model, Rainbow has worked up a PopPixie style guide and has back-to-school merchandise top-of-mind for the next wave of consumer products. Rainbow also plans to put PopPixie on Winx’s path into other media like digital platforms and live events.