Dreamchaser senior brand manager Lucy Woesthoff tells Licensing.biz about the dream behind the brand, success in Europe and Woozle & Pip on the big screen.
Firstly, can you tell me the history behind the brand?
Woozle & Pip were born out of author, Guusje Nederhorst’s love for children and animals. Her dream was simple: to create inspiring, loving and recognisable stories for the greatest people on the planet: young children.
There was no commercial strategy or marketing plan, just an original idea and a desire to create something positive and inspiring for children and parents. Nearly 10 years later, Woozle & Pip have grown to be the most popular characters in their home market: the Netherlands.
It is a unique success story, built around an authentic imaginary world and characters , who make a magical, effortless connection with children everywhere.
How did the brand perform over the past 12 months?
The last 12 months has been a period of rapid growth for the brand.
In our home territory, a range of new licensing partners have been appointed to develop yet more products for fans in the upper end of our target group: four to six years.
This includes a range of educational products to support the national school curriculum with partner Zwijsen, our first 100 per cent natural food products with partner La FOOD and finally Bruynzeel for art and crafts products.
Additionally key national retail partnerships have been closed in preparation of exclusive merchandise lines, which will be released in the beginning of 2016 to coincide with the release of our first cinema film in the Benelux.
In Germany, the continued success of our animation series with WDR/ KIKA, has meant that we have been able to announce the first partners for the German speaking market. These are Egmont (publishing), Universum (DVD) and NICI (plush and school items). The first products will be available in September 2015.
Finally we appointed Cake Entertainment as our international TV sales agent in January and new territories and TV partners are now being considered for 2016. Exciting times!
How many licensees does it have to date and in which categories?
We currently have over 50 partners covering the complete range of categories from publishing, apparel, toys and games, education, food and beverage, DVD & VOD, music, stationary, personal care, apps and theatre etc.
What are some of the best performing products?
Our best performing products are books (we have sold 1.8 million books in the Netherlands alone), plush toys (we sold around 1.5 million cuddly toys in the Netherlands alone) and DVDs/CDs.
This is alongside our highly successful animation series and our award winning theatre production (now in its fifth sell out year).
Are you looking to expand the consumer products programme further this year – for example into new categories or territories?
In the Benelux, we will be looking to expand our programme with additional new food concepts (100 per cent natural ingredients!) and high profile marketing partnerships with yet more A brands.
However our main focus is on our forthcoming film release and our international expansion. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland we will be adding to our growing licensed portfolio with the announcement of partners in the categories: games & puzzles, toys, bed textile and audio books.
Do you have any special marketing initiatives or promotional activity planned for 2015?
We are participating in a special campaign in September 2015 to improve literacy and encourage reading amongst families in Holland, together with a charity supported by Princess Laurentien of the Dutch Royal family.
We have created a special book in support of the campaign, which will be distributed amongst schools and local health care centers free of charge throughout the Netherlands.
At the end of 2015, for the Christmas period, we will be launching an unique partnership with one of the largest retailers in the Benelux in preparation of our first cinema release in January 2016 and preparing for our gala premiere!
What has the retail reaction been like to the brand?
We have had fantastic support from retailers in our home market since our launch in 2008. We have achieved unprecedented success for a ‘home grown’ brand and secured our place within the retail landscape in a short period of time.
Our products are widely available from high end department stores to more traditional toy retailers on the high street. We offer a wide range of quality, commercial products which are suitable and accessible to children everywhere. Everyone is welcome in The Magic Garden!
What are some of the main challenges you've come up against? And how have you overcome them?
Establishing a homemade brand, without the backing of a large company was a major challenge in the beginning.
Finding believers in our story and the brand was the key to overcoming this challenge.
We were very lucky to find some key licence partners and retailers who shared our long term vision and have supported us from the start. Internationally we are very proud to have found similar believers in our TV partner WDR/KIKA and our new partners Egmont, Universum and Nici.
What would you most like to achieve with the brand in 2015?
Our aim for 2015 is to continue to build our brand step for step internationally. Slowly but surely does it.
For 2016, we aim to confirm a number of new territories broadcasting our animation series and to also bring our cinema film to Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Woozle & Pip is a unisex brand, enjoyed equally by boys and girls. The primary target group are children between the ages of two and six years old. The simple, playful, and sometimes, mischievous adventures are very close to how small children perceive the world around them, making the stories immediately recognisable and accessible. Above all, Woozle & Pip are the children’s friends.
The story world around the characters focuses upon the important themes of positivity, friendship and respect for each other and nature. Woozle & Pip are for all children, regardless of race, background or religion. It is this philosophy, combined with the non-aggressive, non-controversial nature of the brand, which make Woozle & Pip not only a natural choice for children, but also the right choice for parents, grandparents and carers.
Woozle & Pip promises a journey of imagination, quality and learning.