Increasingly, the industry is seeing kids properties evolve in non-traditional ways. A perfect example is Calm Island’s educational brand Badanamu. The Korean company’s CEO, David Roberts, developed the IP in 2011; but instead of creating a TV series or a toy first, he introduced it at preschool education centers as enrichment instruction programs in English and Chinese literacy, science and math for five- to eight-year-olds.
Considering the preschool education market in Asia is worth roughly US$150 billion (according to Roberts) while the total licensing and toy market sits at US$5 billion, it’s not surprising Calm Island zeroed in on the educational market first. “Ninety-eight percent of our competitors are basically trying to get revenue through the licensing markets in Asia, which are quite small,” notes Roberts. “But if you venture into the wider education market and its more formalized approach, there are greater opportunities.”
For its early learning center business, Calm Island currently operates and franchises 60-plus locations in eight countries, and has plans to open 200 more by the end of 2018. Moreover, since its supporting Badanamu videos first debuted online, the company has gone on to produce 200 of them, and they’ve generated in excess of three billion views on digital platforms like YouTube. (Calm Island has so far invested more than US$10 million in developing Badanamu’s short-form VOD content.)
“But once you decide to go global, nothing can deliver awareness like a TV series,” Roberts admits. Calm Island is now migrating the property to the traditional media space with the all-new 52 x 11-minute CGI-animated series Badanamu Cadets. It intends to deliver the self-funded US$8-million show early next year.
Aging up from preschool to a five-plus target, the series follows the heroic tales of protagonist Bada. It also features underlying STEAM and social lessons, and has already been presold to France’s Lagardère Active. A global CP program for Badanamu Cadets is in the works, too, targeting educational products, interactive, publishing, apparel, toys and gifts.
Calm Island is also lining up Bada’s Learning Adventure–a full pre-K online learning hub and app featuring Badanamu characters, an adaptive learning system, voice recognition and AR. It’s set to launch October 10.
The kid-safe platform will be subscription-based and offered in English, Korean, Chinese, French, Spanish and Italian. “It will be a direct competitor to ABCmouse.com, and we’re investing more in this than the TV series at the moment,” says Roberts.”