Ahead of the May 3 UglyDolls movie premiere, California’s STX Films is expanding the franchise with an online character customization game, UglyDolls Factory.
The game lets players design their own versions of the characters with a chance for it to be featured during the film’s end credits. The creations can also be shared on social media using the #WelcomeToUglyville hashtag, which is also being used to promote the film.
The game joins STX’ other promotional efforts, which includes licensing agreements with a range of partners in the UK, Benelux, Iberia, Germany and France for everything from curtains and blinds (Texco) to magazines (Signature Publishing). Originally created in 2001 as a plush toy line, STX partnered with China’s Alibaba Pictures earlier this year to co-produce and co-finance content inspired by the brand. The deal meant that Alibaba boarded the upcoming film, an animated series in development with Hulu, digital and print publishing, mobile and educational games, soundtrack and music, and licensing programs.
STX is not the first company to expand its brand with personalization tools. Cartoon Network launched the Powerpuff Yourself app to promote the Powerpuff Girls, allowing users to turn themselves into the iconic little heroes. The app was downloaded more than 12 million times within a few weeks of launch. Cartoon Network expanded efforts into the Story Maker app, which lets users create their own content featuring the superhero trio. CN then took things a step further with a pop-up shop in London where guests could customize tote “Powerpuff Yourself” tote bags.
Meanwhile, UK book publisher Wonderbly has made an entire brand out of personalization with its Lost My Name books, letting people insert names into books and change certain details about the characters to fit any child. The company raised US$8.5 million om a Series B funding round led by European game, puzzle and book publisher Ravensburger in 2017, then went on to partner with Irish prodco Sixteen South Studios to adapt the books into an animated TV series for preschoolers.