DHX Brands' commercial director Tom Roe and senior brand manager Charlotte Hill talk to Licensing.biz about the continued demand for its hit pre-school brand, Teletubbies.
One year on from the launch of the brand new Teletubbies series, how has the series been received by the new generation of young children and parents?
The new series which launched in November 2015 on CBeebies has been really well received by young children proving the enduring appeal of Teletubbies. The bright, fun and lovable characters and the engaging stories are a hit with both boys and girls from six months to three years old. It’s consistently in the top five per cent programmes on all kids' channels.
Aside from performing well on linear TV, the series is also a top show on the CBeebies iPlayer. Kids want the content they love on their own schedule and on different devices, and recent research has underscored that this viewing shift is particularly evident in the preschool demographic.
Parents of younger children are far more discerning about the quality and quantity of what their little ones watch. We’ve put multi-platform at the heart of our kids’ content strategy so we’re not surprised to see the show performing strong on BBC’s catch-up service as well as strong sales for DVD – it’s a trend we expect to see mirrored on Amazon Prime where the show has just launched.
Can you tell us about the CP programme?
Toys launched in January 2016 and the property has been the number one new preschool toy property ever since. Teletubbies is listed in the top five properties in the competitive preschool market overall which is an incredible feat to achieve in less than a year and again stiff competition.
At peak times, one toy is sold every 30 seconds and ‘Jumping Po’ has been named as one of the ‘must have’ toys at this year’s DreamToys event. In the plush category ¾ of a million toys have been sold in the UK since launch with the eight-inch basic Po plush consistently in the top 20 overall selling toys in the past eight months.
Teletubbies was made for a younger preschool audience which gives us a unique positioning in an otherwise crowded market – it’s very much a ‘My First’ character brand. It is one of the earliest character brands young children are exposed to and the brand already benefits from strong awareness from parents and grandparents due to its heritage.
We’re only just in the market in many other categories, so it’s early days, but there are some good initial reads: Books from our master publisher Egmont launched in July (five titles, two formats) and are performing well. That will build quickly this year, with an additional 13 new titles being released across various formats and price points; worldwide home entertainment partner Sony’s DVDs have enjoyed strong sales since launch in October last year. In the digital space ‘Laa-Laa’s Dancing Game’ was the top app for under fives in the app stores.
In total in the UK, we have more than 35 best in class licensees on board. Most other categories will roll out from this spring, at which point Teletubbies will be present in most aisles including food and toiletries.
As young children love to experience the brand beyond the screen, the second half of 2017 will also see the launch of the Teletubbies ticketed live event - a hugely important initiative for this age demographic. For this event, we partnered with Fiery Light and Butlins. The Butlins shows will kick off in February half term.
As you can imagine, we are absolutely thrilled with what we have achieved in such a short space of time.
Who are some of your major retail partners and what can you tell us about these initiatives?
Retailers across the board have been hugely supportive and we have multiple categories listed across the Teletubbies range at all key accounts - grocer, high street and specialist shops. Additionally, we have launched bespoke retail activations from Q4 last year, with plenty more planned throughout 2017.
What can consumers expect from this year’s 20th anniversary celebrations?
We have been busy introducing the new series to a successive generation of fans and are focused on building strong foundations for the brand to flourish over the next few years. 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the first television broadcast which gives us a great opportunity to further underscore the ‘pure-play’ principles of our core children’s business while celebrating the brand’s heritage and global success.
The anniversary will last all year round under the overarching theme ‘Celebrating Big Hugs’ which encapsulates the humour, love and energy which are at the heart of the brand’s DNA and make it so unique.
The campaign will span across content, PR, marketing, retail and licensing, and will be underpinned by the Teletubbies television presence with the new season set for broadcast, as well as the live show tour. As a topline we’ll have extensive retail activities to complement the broader roll out across categories.
We’ll also be announcing strategic partnerships as well as events and PR stunts with a major consumer PR drive targeting national publications and TV features. Online we’ll have brand new digital content and a dedicated year-long campaign on digital and social platforms. In terms of partnerships, we recently teamed up with leading children’s charity Barnardo’s to raise valuable funds for vulnerable children.
Teletubbies will also be supporting Barnardo’s Big Toddle, the largest annual fundraising event for under five year olds, marking both Barnardo’s and Teletubbies’ 20th anniversaries.
Generating a significant amount of media coverage, the campaign also kicked off with the announcement of David Walliams and Rochelle Humes as the latest British stars to join the voice cast of series.
We also believe that there is significant adult appeal for Teletubbies and want to explore opportunities to target young adults who enjoyed the brand first time around. We’ve partnered with Poetic Gem to do a young adults apparel range with a contemporary twist on the Teletubbies classic artwork. It will launch in late spring summer at fashion high street retailers.
Can you tell us more about the second season of the new series?
The second season, comprised of 60 episodes, will start airing this Spring on CBeebies. This new season adds to the 60 episodes which are currently airing, giving us 120 episodes overall. The new content will debut fun new elements such as the Tubby Car and the Hidey Hup playground which are sure to be a hit with young children.
The Teletubbies will travel across Teletubbyland in the Tubby Car to get to the Hidey Hup which comprises a see-saw, slides, roundabout and trampoline. In the first season we introduced the very cute Tiddlytubbies, eight smaller Teletubbies which have been a big hit with our young fans.
In the new season, the Tiddlytubbies will be featuring more prominently. We have given each Tiddlytubby more depth of character. We have really built on their individual personalities and made them more endearing to our audience and there are plans to introduce them at retail in second half of 2017 through master toy partner Character Options. We’re very excited about what’s to come.