Indeed, actually getting on air may seem like the easy bit compared to what comes next in terms of the licensing and merchandising drive and achieving stand out at retail. Kindle’s Big & Small seems to have got it spot on, however.
The show began airing on Cbeebies last October and is a co-production between independent firm Kindle Entertainment and 3J’s Productions for BBC, produced in association with Treehouse TV and Studio 100. Featuring the voices of Lenny Henry as both Big and Small, and Imelda Staunton as Ruby and Twiba, the show aims to open children’s minds to a variety of outlooks on the world.
Each story revolves around the comedy of Big & Small’s contrasting approaches to life, encouraging children to appreciate that people have many different ideas and opinions.
“We have been extremely happy with the reaction so far, especially in such a short period of time,” says Anne Brogan, founder and director of Kindle Entertainment. “It is a clear indication that the values, humour and quality of the show are enjoyed by children and parents across the country.”
Outside of the UK – where the TV series is supported by a radio show on Cbeebies Radio – Studio 100 has sold Big & Small to over 40 territories around the world. The on air launch on Canada’s Treehouse was in February, with the show already in the top ten programmes on the channel. Big & Small has also been a ratings hit in Belgium, with VRT airing it daily. Discussions are now underway with further European territories, plus Australia and the US.
The licensing programme, meanwhile, is being handled by Start Licensing and has already attracted a number of high profile partners. Deals have been struck in categories including toys, plush and puzzles, publishing, DVD, apparel, music downloads, lunchware, headphones and interactive CD-Roms. Jumbo is the master toy licensee and has produced a range of plush based on the characters, with games and puzzles set to follow.
HarperCollins, meanwhile, has the worldwide publishing rights, with the tie in programme including storybooks, sing-a-long books and colouring, activity and sticker offerings. The collection will be part of a pre-awareness campaign in WH Smith from August, ahead of the book releases in October. ITV DVD will also roll out the second Big & Small DVD in September.
Most recent licensees include Fashion UK for apparel, Zak Designs for lunch and drinkware, plus Little Star Creations for headphones and height charts. Avanquest will be producing licensed interactive CDs featuring spot the difference, jigsaws and word searches.
“Outdoor toys, greeting cards and partyware are key categories we are currently aiming for as part of the ongoing licensing programme,” Brogan continues. “The long-term licensing strategy with Start Licensing continues to focus on key aspects of the show, including music and the concept of perspective, through the development of combinations of complementary big and small items.”
The immediate future is certainly looking bright for Big & Small, and Brogan is confident of continuing to build on the positive connection between the audience and the brand.
“We look forward to developing our expansion plans, building on our existing platforms and identifying new opportunities in different territories,” she says. “We aim to keep increasing ratings for the show and also subscribers to the immersive 3D website which invites children to enter the house and engage with animated versions of Big & Small.
“With the expertise of an extremely passionate team, together with the high production values and quality of this wonderful show, we look forward to making it an even bigger hit and ultimately securing a home for Big & Small in the top ten best pre-school properties.”