We speak to Tor Bushell, VP brand management at DHX Brands, about the return of the successful pre-school show.
Firstly, can you tell me the history behind the brand?
Teletubbies is a global phenomenon, which has been loved by pre-schoolers around the world since its original launch in March 1997. The show follows the four Teletubbies, Tinky-Winky, Laa-Laa, Dipsy and Po, as they interact and learn about the world around them.
When it launched the ground-breaking show took the pre-school world by storm. It was like nothing ever seen before on TV.
Teletubbies has now been watched by over one billion children to date. The original episodes have aired in over 120 territories in 45 different languages and it was also the very first western pre-school property to air on China’s CCTV, reaching an audience of 300 million children.
Why have you decided to remake Teletubbies?
Teletubbies is one of the most successful children’s brands of all time and was voted one of the Best Children’s TV Programmes of the last 50 years by international kids’ television experts at the 2014 Prix Jeunesse International. The original episodes still receive over 65 million YouTube views per month - so there is a continued demand for Teletubbies content.
The show and its characters are an iconic British institution and when DHX Media acquired Ragdoll Worldwide there was an opportunity to bring this well-loved show back for a new generation of fans, while ensuring the content was relevant for them as they experience the world today.
The Teletubbies are fun, bright and humorous, and we wanted to give families worldwide the chance to enjoy their adventures in a contemporary way.
The new Teletubbies artwork has just been revealed, how is the show shaping up?
Award-winning producers Darrall Macqueen have been tasked with creating a new series of Teletubbies which has all integrity of the original show but with a fresh contemporary feel. They’ve done an amazing job and the footage we’re seeing is fantastic.
The production techniques being used in the series’ are incredibly pioneering and a number of leading British production companies are involved in the creation of the show - retaining its home-grown authenticity.
There are no half measures with our revival of the series - we know we have a huge responsibility to develop a show which exceeds the expectations of our audience and pays homage to everything which made the original so wonderful, and we are all working hard to ensure that happens.
Can you tell me about the ethos behind the property?
Teletubbies captures young children's imagination and encourages them to explore and learn from the world around them through laughter. The concept of learning through humour and play has always been central to Teletubbies and remains fundamental to our new show.
The series is going to be a funny, happy, friendly, bright, engaging and entertaining show which will entertain, engage and captivate children around the globe. We want young children to be excited and encouraged to explore and discover the world around them.
What are your launch plans as we head into Licensing Expo?
We are looking forward to showcasing the new Teletubbies on CBeebies later this year ahead of its international roll out in 2016. There are also some exciting announcements in the pipeline. We’ll have the Teletubbies down in Vegas for the show so there’ll be plenty of photo opportunities – come and say eh-oh!
What are the key brand values for Teletubbies?
Teletubbies is a world of fun, exploration and discovery for young children. The show fosters confidence and curiosity in young viewers, nurturing their development and encouraging learning through other children.
Can you explain your consumer products strategy for the brand?
It’s important that fans can experience the programme beyond the screen, so we are developing the whole world of Teletubbies so that fans are able to engage with and enjoy the brand anytime, anywhere.
Our commitment to quality is the highest priority and our strategy is underpinned by the aim to secure best-in-class licensees whose offering augments the brand in a way which supports its core ethos.
How many licensees does it have to date (in the UK and worldwide) and in which categories?
We already have over 20 licensees in the UK and are rapidly signing up further partners worldwide. We’re seeing a huge appetite for Teletubbies from both licensees and retailers.
DHX Brands has secured core deals with Character Options as master toy partner, and Egmont for master publishing on the brand, as well as a recent deal with global toy industry leader Spin Master to distribute the upcoming range of Teletubbies toys in the US, Canada, France, Germany, and Benelux.
Other UK licensees include VTech (ELA), Worlds Apart (Furniture & Accessories), Aykroyds (Nightwear and Underwear), Character World (Bedding), Amscan (Partyware), Bon Bon Buddies (Confectionery), Posh Paws (Bags) GB Eye (Posters) and Zak UK (melamine tableware), and products will roll out at retail from 2016.
What would you most like to achieve with the brand in 2015?
Teletubbies has been a global sensation since its launch, and this year we hope to build on those incredibly strong foundations to launch the new incarnation of Teletubbies and ensure the brand’s longevity in the 21st Century. ‘It’s Time for Teletubbies!’