The idea for Brit Chicks – Eva, Mica and Honey, a girl group sensation and the first ever winners of Poptastika – was formed around four years ago. Initially, Brand Champions considered launching the property as an animation, but after carrying out research into its target demographic, the firm realised that girls aged seven and above are now spending more time online, chatting to their friends, downloading music or playing games. The plan now is for Brit Chicks to ultimately become a multiplatform brand, with the core element being an online virtual world, which launches in the UK on October 1st.
“It’s been a challenge to translate an idea that works on the page as an attractive design into a full and compelling story, but I think we’ve managed it,” says Denise Deane, MD at Brand Champions. “The key was to ensure all the elements were in place first: the look, the back story, the story arc, etc. Once the building blocks of the brand and concept are there, it is easier to migrate to different platforms.”
Deane explains that the new virtual world is “absolutely critical” and, therefore, that’s where the resource and investment has gone.
“Britchicks.com is a fun, exciting, glamorous online destination where girls can meet, chat to their friends, travel the world visiting exciting cities and places of interest, play games, download music and generally be creative. They can create an avatar in the style of the chicks, choose a hairstyle and colour, select clothes and accessories, decorate an apartment in a city of their choice and generally have fun.
“By playing the games on the site, users can accumulate points which they can then spend in the world. Music will also be a big component of the site, as the Brit Chicks have their own record label. Their first single – Midnight Curfew – will be available on the site at launch for users to listen to or download.”
The site has been extensively tested by 150 girls known as the ‘brand ambassadors’. “They have been particularly active during this summer’s beta test by helping to seed and promote the virtual world through word of mouth. Creating a safe environment for children is absolutely key, so in addition to working with the brand ambassadors, we’ve engaged a group of mums who are kept informed of the site developments. We’ve also engaged the help of other specialists in the areas of marketing to children and internet safety to ensure everything we are doing adheres to best practice.”
The virtual world will be how most consumers initially experience the brand, with the licensing programme and any other brand extensions flowing from that. Target Entertainment Group picked up the rights earlier this year and is already having early conversations with key licensing categories, according to global brand director Helen Howells. The firm will be presenting to retailers after Brand Licensing Europe once the style guide is completed and will be targeting apparel, accessories, publishing, stationery and bags, arts and crafts, health and beauty, video games and electronic categories.
The first step - the launch of the virtual world – meanwhile, will be supported by an extensive consumer marketing and PR plan including TV and online advertising and magazine competitions, among other activity. And, as far as Deane is concerned, this is only the beginning for the brand. “[In five years’ time] we plan to have taken www.britchicks.com into many other territories and have the online community and virtual world at its core,” she says. “We hope to have a domestic and international licensing programme and see strong potential in publishing, both traditional print and online, standalone games, music and cause-related marketing efforts. There may also be an opportunity to revisit the plans for a Brit Chicks animated series or a DVD in a downloadable format.”