Entertainment One’s head of global licensing, Andrew Carley talks PJ Masks

Why is 2017 a big year for eOne and PJ Masks?

2017 is a big year for PJ Masks, our new preschool superhero property, because it marks the launch of consumer products in numerous territories worldwide. Merchandise has begun to rollout this year in key markets across Western Europe, Nordic and Baltic regions, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, South Africa, Latin America, Australia and select territories in Asia.

Here in the UK, the first line of toys from our global toy partner, Just Play, were distributed by Flair in February 2017 and have far surpassed our sales forecasts. The show has attracted a loyal fanbase on our global broadcast network, Disney Junior, where it has now been airing for just over a year and in the UK we also now have the added TV exposure of Tiny Pop.

This free to air channel launched PJ Masks in February this year and has already significantly boosted viewership in the UK. The show has consistently ranked as one of Tiny Pop’s top three titles since launch, it is the number three show out of 31 titles overall and has reached over 1.1 million kids between February and April 2017.

What excitement and demand have you seen around PJ Masks?

There’s been a tremendous energy surrounding PJ Masks since the series first launched and we’ve been impressed by the enthusiasm of our partners and the universally positive reaction from retailers. Children have really embraced the trio of superheroes, Catboy, Owlette and Gekko, which has fuelled demand for licensed products.

The toy range launched in February 2017 in the UK and sales have been extremely strong, with toy lines selling through across all retailers within the first two months of launch. We’ve had great feedback from retailers following the costume character tours in Toys R Us, Smyths and The Entertainer which they say created fantastic customer engagement and generated a direct uplift in sales. Overall, we saw that vehicles and figurines are the best selling products in the toy range with sales of the three characters split fairly even between Catboy, Gekko and Owlette.

The show had already been on air on Disney Junior for a year before the merchandise launched so there was a lot of pent up demand for products by the time they were available at retail. Since the range has been on sale we’ve seen triple digit growth to the number of followers on the UK Facebook page.

Our focus now is to maintain this consumer demand by working closely with our licensees to create innovative product ranges, support the lines with significant trade and consumer marketing campaigns and execute strong retail activation plans. We hope this will excite the fans and ignite playground buzz which will ultimately lead to long term success.

What will this be bringing to the licensing space this year and beyond?

PJ Masks brings to the licensing space a dynamic, brightly coloured and action packed superhero property that is aspirational to young children. However, the look of the brand and its positive messaging is still reassuringly ‘preschool’ enough to win the endorsement of parents and grandparents.

We’re aiming to bring consumers an array of licensed products that communicate the brand values of problem solving, teamwork and leading an active lifestyle. We’ve also noticed that the theme tune and music used both in the show and for interstitial music videos have been extremely popular with the fans. So in response to that, we’ve released a stand alone mini-album entitled ‘Here We Come’ that is available worldwide on iOS and Android.

What ambitions do you have for PJ Masks this year?

To establish PJ Masks as one of the top three leading preschool properties in markets across Europe, the US, Australia and Latin America.

What partners are you currently working with and who are you looking to work with in the future?

A number of new licensees have now joined the UK licensing programme and this summer will see the launch of a stand alone magazine (Immediate Media), publishing (Hachette), ELA (VTech and Leapfrog), nightwear (Ayroyds and TDP), bags (Trademark), outdoor toys (MV Sports) and puzzles and games (Ravensburger). In the Autumn, the licensing programme will be bolstered with the launch of bikes, apparel, footwear, homewares, partyware, and stationery. So by the end of 2017 you will see a comprehensive range of PJ Masks merchandise at retail across multiple categories.

We’re currently exploring a number of potential marketing partnerships to raise the brand profile at a grass roots level in the UK. This year we are linking up with the Youth Sports Trust charity for a branded fundraiser during National School Sports Week in June 2017. There will also be promotional activity with nationwide preschool dance class franchise Diddi Dance in October 2017. 

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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