The Jim Henson Company has inked a raft of licensing deals for its preschool brand Pajanimals, which airs as a live-action puppetry TV series on 24-hour US preschool channel Sprout.
NCircle Entertainment’s US and Canadian home entertainment licensing agreement with The Jim Henson Company has been extended for new full episodes and the first Pajanimals DVD will be released in May 2012.
Other licensees include SaraMax Apparel Group (sleepwear for fall 2012 featuring characters Sweetpea Sue, Squacky, CowBella and Apollo), parade balloon company StarBound Entertainment (parade balloons), California Costumes (Halloween toddler costumes for fall 2012), and LightHeaded Beds (illuminated graphic children’s headboards for spring 2012).
The deals follow the growth of the brand which has even caught the eye of troubadour singer Céline Dion.
When the popular singer praised The Pajanimals and began to sing a lullaby from the 26 x11-minute series on a prominent US TV morning show, you could say the folks at The Jim Henson Company were more than a little pleased.
“It was amazing,” says Melissa Segal, SVP of global consumer products at TJHC. “We didn’t have anything to do with it, that’s for sure. She said she sings it to her kids at night—you couldn’t ask for better press!”
The clip has since become a YouTube hit and could be an indication of the success awaiting the live-action puppetry series as it steps further into the licensing realm this year.
“Licensees have been interested since we started airing interstitials on Sprout in 2008,” says Segal. “But I think they wanted to wait until there was enough exposure.”
To that end, TJHC has just signed on master toy licensee Tomy, which will create a full line of plush featuring the series’ main characters Apollo, Squacky and Sweetpea Sue. NCircle is on board for DVDs and home entertainment products and SarahMax Apparel Group handles the all-important sleepwear category.
After the soft launch at US retailers this fall, there will be a broader push planned for 2013. “We are looking to launch perhaps with an exclusive retail partner and then go wider after the initial test,” says Segal.
While the show has a bedtime focus for its preschool demographic, Segal says the licensing program will use “bedtime as an anchor,” but expand into a wider range of products for the younger portion of the demo, zoning in on the one- to three-year-old market.
“It’s an interesting way in,” says Segal. “The show is about a lot more than sleep. It’s about the social and emotional issues that little kids go through.”
Segal’s now looking at filling secondary categories like health & beauty. She says shampoo and toothbrushes could be a successful licensing avenue for the brand, and she’s also keeping her eyes peeled for home décor and music-related licensees.
It’s very merchandisable,” Segal says. “It appeals to the same age group that Barney or Teletubbies does – we think there is an opportunity in the market.”
With files from Gary Rusak