Cartoon Network's Johanne Broadfield on Adventure Time's adult fans, fashion success and EMEA growth

Johanne Broadfield, vice president, Cartoon Network Enterprises, EMEA explains why 2014 has been Adventure Time's biggest year yet across the EMEA region.
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How has 2014 been for Adventure Time in terms of licensing activity?

2014 has been our biggest year yet across the EMEA region, not just in terms of category or retail launches, but also in terms of the scale of the partners supporting the franchise. 

The brand is clearly appealing to a broader audience as awareness builds and the fan base extends beyond the Comic-Con early adopters. This year we’re seeing momentum building across the entire region – from Russia down to South Africa, where we launched with a very cool kid-targeted event this summer.

The show has a huge adult fan base. Has this influenced the sectors that this brand is going for when it comes to merchandise?

The brand has such cachet with its adult fan base that it opened up opportunities in terms of go-to-market strategy. In the UK, merchandise was available at Forbidden Planet before it was introduced to mass market.

The great thing about Adventure Time is the broad appeal which has in many cases had a very favourable impact on sales volumes of kid-targeted products.

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When we launched the Adventure Time Easter Egg and Adventure Time bedding, for instance, we realised from the rate of sale and social media that it wasn’t just kids it was being bought for - adults are buying these items for other adults or indeed themselves.

We always ensure, however, that we keep parents comfortable with the brand even with adult-targeted products such as apparel or gifting.

This is important for Cartoon Network and Adventure Time – we’re a kids channel.

How has the property performed in the toy sector? Is this a sector the brand is looking to get involved in more?

Adventure Time is obviously a very different brand to a classic kid's entertainment property.

Action figures and role play have not been the driver, although we’ve seen a good business from the Jazwares line and collectable toys.

The brand does see great sales in games – Adventure Time Monopoly has sold extremely well. There are other relevant toy categories in the works – we’re hoping to announce these in due course.



Are there any other sectors you're looking to introduce the brand to in the near future?

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Themed entertainment’s a big one next year with the opening of the IMG Worlds of Adventure in Dubai. 

We will build further on our fashion and home business, extend Back to School and continue with our publishing expansion – there’s so much more we can do in these categories alone with this brand.

We’ll also be expanding geographically – Adventure Time is just taking off in a number of core European markets.

What sector has the brand proved most popular and why do you think this is?

As with any brand that is this cool and much loved, fashion will lead.

That said, the publishing programme has been a big success globally and has been enormously successful from the very first comic published by KaBoom.

What characters from the show are most popular on the shelves? Are there any characters other than Jake & Finn that have proven to be a hit at retail? (I'm a Lemongrab fan myself.)

We are managing Adventure Time for the long-term and are introducing the breadth of characters very carefully.

Kids identify with Finn and Jake, while the genuine variety of quirky characters are loved by older audiences.

We’ll continue to focus on Jake and Finn in our merchandise throughout 2015, although fans can read about all the characters of course in our comics, books and magazines.

That said, Beemo, Marceline and the Lumpy Space Princess play a larger role in the new style guide – not to mention the Ice King.

What does 2015 hold in store for Adventure Time and its licensing activity?

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There are a couple of specific launches and high profile collaborations we can’t announce yet – stay tuned on our next big fashion launch.

In terms of experiential, we’re very excited about the opening of the IMG Worlds of Adventures in Dubai next year – the Adventure Time ride and retail area will be a first for us in this region. It won’t just be the Middle East that will benefit – this will be an international tourist destination.

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