“Batman is the only superhero without a superpower; under the costume he is a normal guy and this is something that fans of all ages can relate to and find appealing,” explains Paul Bufton, general manager of WBCP UK, to Licensing.biz.
Batman’s ability to connect with consumers across all ages and demographics is key to his longevity, Bufton believes. The latest incarnation of the brand – The Brave and the Bold – marks a departure from Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of the character in The Dark Knight. The new series is a more lighthearted, humorous take on Batman, which sees him teaming up with other super heroes from the DC Universe including the Red Tornado, the Blue Beetle and Aquaman.
In his keynote speech at Brand Licensing Europe, Bruno Schwobthaler, senior VP sales and business development, EMEA, said that The Brave and the Bold was the “perfect complement” to the other incarnations of Batman in the portfolio: “At the moment we have four different versions of Batman thriving in the marketplace – The Dark Knight movie, Lego Batman for the casual gamer, Arkham Asylum for the hardcore gamer and The Brave and the Bold for younger, new entrants to the franchise. We firmly believe that if the core values of the brand are respected and the product is right, Batman can effectively appeal to multiple demographics at the same time.”
The show launched on GMTV in June. An impressive 2.7 million viewers tuned into the first eight episodes, fast-tracking the show into GMTV’s number one slot. Indeed, the show has boosted GMTV’s 2009 timeslot ratings, with 22 per cent more children tuning into the channel compared to the same time last year. This has led to GMTV extending the broadcast run of the show through the key gifting period until December 2009.
Meanwhile, having launched in July, the accompanying licensing programme is continuing to gain momentum.
Partners on board include Mattel (global master toy), Rubie’s (dress-up), Aykroyd & Sons (nightwear), TV Mania UK (kids’ tees and outerwear), Duni (partywear), Elizabeth the Chef (cakes) and HL Foods (pasta).
The initial range from Mattel included basic and deluxe action figures, plus the new Batman Transforming Batmobile. New products will be introduced in spring 2010 including the Super Stretch Battle Pack, which includes three character figures from the show.
“The beauty of the show is the fact that Batman teams up with so many other classic DC superheroes, each with their own unique character traits and special abilities,” Bufton continues. “For example, Plasticman with his super stretchy arms – a licensing dream. Mattel’s toy range already includes action figures of other key characters and as kids become more familiar with the characters through the TV series and DVDs, we fully intend to develop more products based upon the supporting characters.”
Retail has got fully behind the show and the licensing programme. A life-size replica of the Batmobile toured in association with Toys R Us and Smyths during the summer, which generated some excellent local PR, for example.
WBCP has ambitions for The Brave and the Bold right across EMEA. The show launched in Spain in May, France and Italy in September and it will roll out in Germany and across the rest of EMEA in 2010. “The Batmobile is now touring mainland Europe; it is visiting retailers in Spain in November and will move on to Italy in December. A strong product range is now available across the EMEA region including Mattel’s toy line, back to school product, stationery and apparel categories.
“I’m confident that Batman will continue to remain the number one superhero across multiple consumer touch points, appealing to consumers of all ages,” Bufton concludes.