Since its debut in 1999, Family Guy – the Emmy nominated series following Peter Griffin and his family, Lois, Chris, Meg, Stewie and Brian the dog – has consistently attracted over one million people when it airs on BBC3 in the UK.
In home entertainment, it is Fox’s biggest TV franchise, with seven million units sold in the UK alone. The season nine DVD was launched on November 1st, with the third chapter in the Star Wars parody – It’s a Trap – following on December 27th.
This success has provided Fox Consumer Products with a solid platform to build the Family Guy licensing programme. Indeed, 2010 has been a real turning point for the brand in the UK, says Louise Collins, UK licensing director at FCP. “The show is delivering its best ever ratings, we have signed up five new licensees and gained retail traction across the marketplace,” she tells Licensing.biz. “Family Guy is a merchandise favourite with teen boys and adult males, and the licensing programme now boasts 11 key partners covering all categories including apparel, gift and accessories.”
In the core apparel category, Somerbond is the new partner for men’s nightwear and essentials, along with Roy Lowe & Sons for socks. Both join long-term partner Bravado – which has a range of t-shirts – and Brand International (novelty slippers). In the gift and accessories arena, Posh Paws has developed novelty gift items, including bar products and keyrings, while new partner Peter Black’s gift range is already available in Argos and Wilkinson outlets. Character World will also launch new bedding designs in 2011. Other licensees on board include Winning Moves – which will launch a special Family Guy version of Monopoly next year – GB Eye, Danilo, The Hira Company (stationery and computer peripherals) and Pedigree.
“Demand across all product categories is high,” says Collins. “Bravado’s t-shirt collection continues to be a strong performer at retail with Trust and Anarchy Stewie t-shirts being the top selling designs in major retail partner HMV. Following the retail success of Brand International’s 3D slippers on Play.com, a new Evil Monkey set will launch next year.”
Next for Collins and the FCP team will be the men’s toiletries and car accessories sectors.
“The style guides capture the core elements of the show – quirky humour, the main family members, as well as series regulars like Quagmire. In addition, we develop a series of season guides – XXXXmas (Christmas), Yearning and Burning (Valentine’s Day) and For Pete’s Sake (Father’s Day).”
Retail distribution for the ranges is strong, from Asda and HMV on the apparel, Argos and Wilkinsons on gift through to Tesco and Play.com for footwear, however Collins sees room for growth within the grocers, major department stores and online.
The more adult nature of the Family Guy brand, however, does mean the team has to think in a slightly different way. “It’s not necessarily a challenge, more an alternative way of thinking,” admits Collins. “You need to be clever in terms of treatment onto the products so that it appeals to an adult sense of humour and adult style. You also have to be aware of the different consumption patterns of adults in comparison with children and, therefore, retail stockists must be considered carefully in order to maximise reach and exposure.”
The scope of the brand in terms of licensing growth is large. Notably, spin off property The Cleveland Show now has its own dedicated programme, with Bravado signing up to produce t-shirts. “We have great ambition for the growth of the Family Guy brand – it ticks all the boxes in terms of creative scope and engagement with the consumer, offering a point of differentiation through the quirky, off the wall humour,” Collins continues. “We will be supporting the growth of all product categories and nurturing our retail partnerships, ensuring wide distribution of all products at UK retail. 2011 will be a great opportunity to take the Family Guy franchise to new heights.”
And how about slightly longer term, say five years? “We want to establish a Back to College retail event for Family Guy and continue to take the franchise to freakin’ new heights with new style guides and product development ideas.”