Beano Studios' Allison Watkins on expanding Beano across TV, film, digital, theatre and products

Billy Langsworthy

By Billy Langsworthy

October 11th 2016 at 10:07AM
Beano Studios' Allison Watkins on expanding Beano across TV, film, digital, theatre and products

Allison Watkins, EVP, Global Consumer Products & TV Distribution at Beano Studios, tells Licensing.biz why it's time for the Beano to become a fully fledged, multi-platform entertainment brand.

Why was the time right to launch the new Beano Studios division?

DC Thomson have published the Beano comic for almost 80 years, but if you were to launch the Beano today it wouldn’t just be a comic. It would be an entertainment brand, with multiple touch points across TV, film, digital content, theatrical projects, consumer products – and of course the much loved comic and annual. That is what Beano Studios is here to do.

At its heart is a new free digital entertainment feed, living on Beano.com and apps, which has just launched - it is packed with funny, rebellious and imaginative content. The look of the much-loved comic, annual and licensing artwork have been refreshed to match.

The Beano brand is getting a new look. What’s different and how will this impact the licensing around the brand?

It’s much more than a new look – Beano is building a new multiplatform children’s entertainment offer. Our vision is to become the number-one destination for boredom-busting kids entertainment globally.

The new design direction has delivered a style guide that reflects both the heart and the attitude of the Beano, which is loved by so many, as well as our bold new ambitions. Our licensing focus will shift to our kids’ audience, with adults and teens as our secondary market.

Are there any categories that the Beano is set to have a greater presence in than before directly as a result of fresh opportunities presented by the new look?

Our new artwork is aimed primarily for kids age six to 12, it’s bright, colourful and full of attitude. We’ve stayed away from a traditional character driven approach in order to appeal to older kids who are using the new site and apps and reading the comics and annuals. However we’ve been very conscious about respecting our iconic British comic heritage, so there’s still lots for our adult and teen fans.

Our focus categories are apparel and accessories, pocket money toys, gifts, housewares and stationery.

How is Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed set to open the brand up to a more global audience?

Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed is a brand new CGI animated series targeting a sweet spot of kids aged seven to 10, although we expect the CP to play to a slightly younger audience.

We have already had a number of exciting conversations with International broadcasters that we will be in a position to announce over the coming months.

Are there any big screen adventures planned for the Beano as a result of the formation of Beano Studios?

Beano Studios is developing amazing content for all platforms, including the big screen.

And on the Jackie front, what direction are you taking that brand in?

Jackie was the ultimate companion to being a teenage girl in the 70s and early 80s – full of fashion, music news, gossip, quizzes, lists and how to get and keep a boyfriend. A successful UK tour of Jackie the Musical won rave reviews, and will be back bigger and better in 2017.

Those passionate Jackie readers are now aged 45 to 60, and research has shown us how much they still love the brand. We are looking to work with partners using a combination of sassy Jackie attitude and the beautiful original illustrations from the magazine for our style guide to create a range of products targeting this under represented demographic.

Key categories will be publishing, accessories, stationery, greetings cards, nightwear, homewares, soft furnishings, leisure wear and toiletries.