Eight decades on from launch, the Looney Tunes are one of the cornerstones of the Warner Bros portfolio. We take a look at how the brand has remained relevant and WBCP's plans for 2011.
“Looney Tunes is one of the cornerstones of the Warner Bros Consumer Products portfolio, they are the purest expression of irreverent fun known to the cartoon world,” Bruno Schwobthaler, SVP sales and business development, WBCP EMEA, states simply.
Originally created to bring a library of music to life, the Looney Tunes made their theatrical debut in 1930. Eight decades on, the characters remain at the heart of Warner Bros and have an enviably strong licensing programme which, over the last four years has largely been driven by the Looney Tunes Active banner which aims to promote a more active lifestyle to children.
“Looney Tunes Active is supported by the biggest consumer goods partners in the business, including McDonalds, Nestle (whose sales of bottled water have now exceeded 250 million units), Ferrero, Pepsico and Tymbark (Poland),” Schwobthaler continues. “Combine this with the 250 other active licensees across the EMEA region – including Central Europe’s largest food DTR with System U in France and a sports apparel deal with Intersport – and you start to understand the Looney Tunes immense consumer appeal and retail success, which currently stands at over one billion unit sales in three years making it Europe’s number one active licensed brand.”
It’s a pretty impressive feat, especially in today’s fast moving marketplace. However, WBCP has also launched new content in the form of The Looney Tunes Show and 3D animated shorts, meaning a whole new licensing opportunity has opened up for the brand.
“2010 was a very important year for Looney Tunes as it marked the launch of a new wave of content that will drive the Looney Tunes licensing business across Europe over the next three years,” says Paul Bufton, general manager, WBCP UK. “A series of two and a half minute shorts featuring Road Runner and Wile E Coyote premiered ahead of select big screen movies last summer and we hosted a number of events where we immersed existing and potential key partners in the new Looney Tunes content.
“We’ve been successful in seeding the new content on both a trade and consumer level and our focus has now shifted to the launch of The Looney Tunes Show, which is due to air in the UK in the second quarter of 2011 with terrestrial UK broadcast and an EMEA roll out to follow in Q4.”
The Looney Tunes Show is meant to complement and sit alongside the established Looney Tunes Active and classic business – which still does a roaring trade in the soft lines categories, with in excess of ten million vintage inspired garments sold in 5,500 fast fashion outlets across EMEA.
Bufton continues: “The new content will service demand from existing fans and capture the imagination of a whole new generation, who will be captivated by the characters and also the presentation of the new content, which utilises new technologies and moves away from the more traditional seven-minute shorts. The Looney Tunes Show will be a series of half hour animated episodes which follow a variety show format, with a main story and then a number of cartoons within a cartoon – such as the Merrie Melodies, a series of music videos where characters such as Taz and Marvin the Martian sing original songs.”
Schwobthaler believes that the secret to the Looney Tunes longevity is the sheer variety of characters – each of which have their own distinct personality traits – as well as the humour and one liners, and the studio’s investment in new content.
“We’ve recognised the need to embrace technology and trial new formats, whilst respecting the values of the Looney Tunes brand that are essentially simple, steeped in tradition and firmly entwined within the history of entertainment,” he adds.
The ultimate aim for the next 12 months is to see the show successfully launch across the EMEA region and to begin the roll out of the accompanying licensing programme. And where does Schwobthaler see the brand longer term? “Where it has been for more than 80 years, leading animated entertainment that appeals to kids and adults of all ages.”