Caring and sharing may be core to the Care Bears’ DNA, but adding inclusivity and social issue awareness into the product mix has helped Cloudco Entertainment reach new heights at retail and explore new avenues with content.
The Care Bears “Love all” messaging will be on full display this weekend in Toronto, as the brand debuts its new Peace Collective clothing line with experiential activations tied to the city’s Pride weekend celebration, one of the largest in the world. The new limited-edition line “celebrates sharing, caring and pride,” and will be promoted with live Care Bears events in key tourism locations and a local junior public school.
The Toronto event builds on the socially conscious, inclusivity-themed messaging Care Bears has been rolling out for the past year, starting with the launch of Togetherness Bear in June 2021 (Pride month in many countries). The first new character in the Care Bears franchise in 10 years, it immediately got traction with consumers, says Amy Sullivan, Cloudco’s VP of global retail development.
“Togetherness Bear was the number-one performing Care Bear for the full year of 2021, and it was only selling for half the year,” she tells Kidscreen. “To date, it continues to be our top-selling character for 2022 as well.”
During last year’s holiday season, Togetherness Bear sold just under 500,000 units, which Sullivan attributes to two key factors; the first being the bear’s strong social messaging; and the second being its tie-dyed rainbow-colored fur, manufactured so that no two bears look exactly alike.
“This was strategic for us because we wanted to celebrate how each person is different, but it also got people to go out and chase for Togetherness Bears with unique features, like blue hair or yellow hands,” she adds.
Coinciding with Togetherness Bear’s debut at retail, Cloudco released a three-minute animated short on YouTube to weave the character into the Care Bears universe.
In it, Togetherness Bear starts out as a colorless bear living in Care-a-Lot who asks for the Care Bears’ help in deciding which color they should become. While each bear advocates for its own color, Togetherness Bear ultimately decides to incorporate them all and lands on its distinct rainbow tie-dye.
“Togetherness Bear is unique in that it has taken on a lot of different traits from the community,” says Sullivan. “We’ve had people reach out [on social media] that have disabilities, who come from blended families and who were adopted, and they all felt like this bear stood for them and their individuality.”
Togetherness Bear’s success has made a lasting impact on Cloudco, which has continued to roll out new social-conscious and social-themed bears in 2022, including I Care Bear, which celebrates Earth Day and is made with recycled materials, and Dream Bright Bear to commemorate the brand’s 40th anniversary. More bears are set to be announced for 2023.