It's been a busy past six months for Chorion. Not only has the firm been focusing on the launch of the new-look Mr Men Show, but there was also the acquisition of Copyrights Group (announced last November) to contend with.
The ultimate impact on the company, however, has been a positive one, MD Jane Turner explains to Licensing.biz. “[The acquisition] has provided us with enormous potential to take a new range of already popular, classic properties and give them the Chorion treatment – that being to drive them further in their existing success, or to lovingly re-introduce them to audiences through a variety of media or products,” she says. “It has also allowed us to expand our sales teams to help us maximise the potential of our growing portfolio.”
And grow it has. The Copyrights deal has meant that over 40 new brands have joined Chorion’s portfolio – including the likes of Paddington Bear, Beatrix Potter, Spot and Horrible Histories. These joined existing Chorion properties such as Noddy, Mr Men, Famous Five and Olivia: all of which have major backing throughout the rest of this year and into 2009.
The Mr Men Show has now launched on TV in the UK, UK and France and one of the next big flash points for the brand will be the arrival of new toy line from Fisher-Price in the UK.
“There is such an enormous amount of goodwill for the property at retail that we have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm being shown by the big retailers,” Turner says. “We have every confidence that this Christmas will be huge for the property.”
Key initial lines will be the Mr Tickle feature plush, bean toys of various characters and collectible plastic character sets which pair opposing personalities, such as Little Miss Sunshine/Mr Grumpy or Little Miss Chatterbox/Mr Quiet. In addition to the toys (which will also launch in the US and France in 2009), The Mr Men Show will be launching on TV in other territories such as Portugal, Australia, Singapore, South Africa and Israel.
“Our ability to work with the right partners just gets better and better,” Turner continues, “as evidenced by our appointment of, for example, Fisher-Price, Spin Master and Jakks Pacific for our priority properties. For the toys themselves, we look for frequently refreshed, solid ranges of items with a variety of on-brand play patterns. They must hit every price point and be attractive to parents, but they must also extend a child’s enjoyment of our brands beyond books and entertainment.”
Chorion’s next big property focus will be on Olivia, a brand made famous through the New York Times best selling books by Ian Falconer. Turner is confident it will be of great interest to licensees, and the firm is already in discussion with potential toy partners. The TV series – commissioned by Nick Jr in the US and sold to Five in the UK – is currently in production and Chorion is looking to sign up licensees at Licensing International this month in advance of the TV launch in the UK and US in early 2009.
On top of the arrival of Olivia, evergreen brand Noddy is currently enjoying some positive increases in the toy market and Chorion will be undertaking “considerable” promotions to give the brand a big presence this Christmas. “2009 is the 60th anniversary of the first publication of Enid Blyton’s Noddy Goes to Toyland – Noddy’s first appearance in print – and so we are marking the occasion as befits one of the world’s most enduring children’s properties,” says Turner. “Starting at Brand Licensing Europe this autumn and running right through 2009, we have a number of high profile trade and consumer activities planned to help Noddy celebrate his birthday, not least the launch of brand new television content and the development of some completely new and innovative toy lines.”
There’s certainly a lot going on for Chorion – and this is just in the toy market (the firm has also recently acquired the non-publishing rights to Jon Scieszka’s TruckTown, a new book series from Simon & Schuster, plus the estate of Dennis Wheatley in the adult properties area).
The kids’ market may be crowded, but Turner believes Chorion’s strength is in the timelessness of its properties’ stories and its ability to turn engaging storytelling into engaging toys, entertainment and online offerings. “A successful brand should always be engaging in every medium,” she says simply. “Quality will always shine through and we can boast an ever growing portfolio of quality literary properties.”