Here Marianne James, VP consumer products UK and Ireland and European retail sales and marketing at Nickelodeon and Viacom Consumer Products, reveals why the Turtle brand is an evergreen property and how Turtle domination is set to continue until 2018 and beyond.
How have things been for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?
Since the launch of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series and consumer product line in 2012, the property has gone from strength to strength. Turning store aisles green and mutating into new and exciting cross-category lines, Turtle Power continues to grow both in the UK and across the globe. With a number of different sub brands that make up the complete Turtles franchise, the property has the unique ability to appeal to fans of all ages.
Introducing a brand new generation of fans to the Turtles is the pre-school segment Half Shell Heroes. Having conquered the toy market simply off the strength of the franchise and with creative product innovation, we have just aired the first ever one hour Half Shell Heroes special on Nick Toons to help bring the story to life.
For kids, the core animation show is key; now into its fourth season and with season five green-lit, new consumer product lines are produced in line with the themes across a number of categories. From a product perspective in particular this has allowed us to explore new opportunities within adult apparel, sportswear, 3D printing and a number of designer collaborations.
As an evergreen property within our portfolio and an influx of new content, product innovation and 360 marketing campaigns, Turtle domination is set to continue into 2018 and beyond.
Do you think 2016 will be the biggest year yet for the movie franchise?
Without a doubt 2016 will be the biggest year yet for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie franchise. The first film was a huge success for us, taking nearly $500 million at the box office internationally and reigniting interest in our loveable heroes. It has really set a strong foundation from which the second installment can hopefully deliver an even stronger performance.
The momentum leading up to the highly anticipated movie release on June 3rd is starting to accelerate. Just before Christmas the first official trailer released online and has been watched by over 17.5 million people across the globe. In it, fans got a taster of the action-packed adventure to come from renowned producer Michael Bay. With a host of brand new characters making their first ever appearance, there is no denying that alongside the Turtles themselves, classic characters Bebop and Rocksteady are set to be the stars of the film. Already these retro villains are making headlines, alongside fan-favourites Casey Jones, Baxter Stockman and the star-studded cast. With secrecy surrounding the story line we look forward to sharing more teasers with you over the next few months.
To support the movie the consumer product range is set to impress with a collection of detailed figures, vehicles and play sets drawing upon a number of themes from the film. Understanding that the appeal of the movie stretches way beyond the Turtles, the villains feature heavily within the toy range. To bring the action to life at retail, get ready for a host of 360 marketing campaigns, fashion collaborations and wider promotions not just in the UK but also across the globe.
How big has the TV and movie space been for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?
On Nick Toons in 2015, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animation series continued to be a hit for the channel with viewership up year-on-year. Whilst over on Channel 5 reach has increased since the show debuted in 2014. Over the past three seasons the love of the show has given rise to a legion of dedicated followers and recognising the passion there is for the show, season five has also been green lit. As an evergreen property within the Nickelodeon portfolio, the investment and commitment to the show is consistent.
What makes the movie franchise and the animated series able to co-exist together is that they are linked through the Turtles and other characters, but come with different interpretations with their own independent storylines. Each one exists as its own entity and together they work to ignite passion across all demographics.
What are your plans for the brand? What does 2016 have in store?
This year we have a number of exciting campaigns touching down at retail to support the launch of season four as well, and the new movie in what is set to be the biggest year yet for the Turtles.
In season four the Turtles travel to the Kraangs world, Dimension X where they take on a host of new baddies. Away from their beloved New York City the Turtles are seen in futuristic space suits in order to complete their new mission. This has translated into the product segment Metal Mutants from Flair. The range is set to launch at retail this Easter and will enable kids to create their own space adventures. Speaking of space, we also have one of our biggest ever PR campaigns set to support the series and the line as we send a Turtle into space.
Alongside the animation show, across all key retail accounts we will be drawing upon the top themes coming through from the new movie, including the hugely popular Beebop and Rocksteady to really deliver unique and rewarding campaigns for both the retailer and the fans. With a number of huge above-the-line campaigns in partnership with Paramount, retail aisles are set to dominate with Turtle Power.
Alongside a number of strong marketing activations, we are also excited to launch a number of key fashion collaborations. Recently we announced the partnership between the Turtles and the powerhouse footwear brand Dr Martens. Turning a classic boot into a Turtle fans dream, adults and kids can now embody their favourite Turtle in style. Meticulously designed to draw upon the individual Turtles personality traits, the incredible designs will be available from March.
Are there any new areas you will be exploring in the licensing space in the future?
Always looking ahead for the next opportunity we will continue to drive all the sub segments that make up the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. We work with over 40 of the best licensees within the industry who are committed to stretching the boundaries and innovating new products with total Turtle Power.
In 2015 Nickelodeon was the first licensor to ever sign a deal to use 3D printing at Asda. Fans can now get a life like 3D model of themselves standing next to their favourite Turtle, a unique gift for the ultimate Turtles fan. Innovation like this is key to what we do best; from finding niche category opportunities to mass-market toy innovation, the possibilities are truly endless.
Coming up in 2016, we have a number of new fashion collaborations yet to announce, so keep an eye out for where our crime fighting heroes make their next appearance.