Guru Studio is hitting the books with its preschool series Pikwik Pack. The Toronto-based company signed a global agreement with Scholastic Publishing for the 52 x 11-minute show, which will see storybooks, novelty and activity books based on the animated series launch in 2021. Additionally, Guru signed a licensing deal with Jay Franco for homewares. Moving forward, apparel is another category the company is exploring.
“The show is based on community, so we’re actually approaching the licensing of the brand in much the same way,” says Frank Falcone, president and creative director of Guru. “We want a community of licensees that work together. It’s about finding the best partners with the best plan.” The goal, he says, is to create a CP program that feels cohesive on shelves, with products that complement each other.
To facilitate collaboration between licensing partners, Guru is inking its deals strategically to ensure the various timelines for different product launches line up.
“We don’t want to sign a bunch of people until that category is at least going to launch within a year,” says Guru’s VP of sales and business development Jonathan Abraham. “We don’t want to sign the rights away to someone and they have to just sit on it, hoping they can start developing because a lot of categories are second-year or even third-year categories.” This means key categories like toys, publishing and apparel will bow first, followed by secondary categories in later years once the show has launched in more territories and built up a fan base.
In January, Guru tapped Playmates Toys as global master toy partner for the property. The deal will see Playmates launch figures, playsets, vehicles, plush and roleplay items globally (except China) in 2021. The company is currently in talks with all major retailers.
Pikwik Pack was picked up by Disney Junior in 2018, and is set to hit screens in the US next year. Guru also inked a broadcast deal with US streamer Hulu for the series, which stars a hedgehog, raccoon, cat and hippo running a parcel delivery service.
As Guru continues to build out the property with new broadcast and licensing deals, Falcone says the team will focus on finding those perfect partners.
“We’re going to look at it from a market-to-market perspective. We’re going to hyper-localize our international strategy and look at a territory to find the best-in-class partner in that territory,” he says.