Classic Media is obviously well versed in what makes a successful pre-school property. Postman Pat, for example, is a stalwart of the sector and the firm is currently using its experience to build up the licensing programme for Tinga Tinga Tales.
Main focus at the moment though, is on Guess with Jess. The show launched on Cbeebies in the UK in November 2009 and has received consistent scheduling since then. Indeed, it continues to rate well, achieving a total reach of over one million viewers each month since launch.
As well as the UK, Guess with Jess is also on air on Australia, Canada, Poland, Cyprus, the Middle East, Israel and South Africa. Other key territories include France, Spain, Italy, Latin America, Norway, Finland, Indonesia, Thailand and Portugal among others.
In terms of licensing, there are currently 18 partners onboard across categories such as toys, publishing, apparel, accessories, healthy and beauty and homewares. “Toys are key to the licensing and merchandising programme,” says Claire Shaw, VP of consumer products and retail at Classic Media. “There is also a big appetite at retail for apparel as the brands lends itself so well to clothing.”
Fisher-Price is the master toy partner, with its range hitting retail from this month. Other pillar licensees are Egmont – which has already released Chloe the Caterpillar from its 10 Minute Tales range, with further titles following in July and August – and Universal, which is planning two DVD releases in Q3/Q4.
Classic is now looking to grant secondary toy rights to complement Fisher-Price’s offering – including wheeled and outdoor, plus arts and crafts – while it is also aiming to sign up food and stationery licensees.
“We are also currently in the process of signing licensing agents to represent Guess with Jess in the international territories,” Shaw continues. “Kidz Entertainment will represent the brand in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, Ovation on Australia and Asiana Licensing will cover Korea. CP ranges will begin to roll out in these territories from 2011.”
Despite the character’s heritage within Postman Pat, Shaw is also adamant that the brand has long enough legs to stand on its own. “While it obviously affords us an existing level of trust and familiarity from both parents and children, the show uses an entirely different animation style and format and only nods to Postman Pat via its Greendale Farm location,” Shaw points out. “It’s not a message we’ve actively pushed, however, if kids voluntarily make the link and love Jess, than great.”
Shaw believes that Guess with Jess is the only enquiry-based learning offering in the UK’s pre-school market. “It appeals to pre-schoolers’ insatiable curiosity for knowledge about the exciting world around them. The big questions in the show are based around science and nature, and children are encouraged to ask questions, test ideas and ultimately find their own way to the answer. Learning is presented as a process, as the right answer isn’t simply handed to Jess and his friends.”
Ultimately, Shaw’s aim is to establish Guess with Jess as a top five pre-school licence in the UK and globally. “We’re hopeful for a successful launch at retail and sell through,” she says. “We’re operating in a highly competitive environment with success based often more in art than science, but as Postman Pat has demonstrated there is room for longevity and we’re hopeful Jess will emulate the success Pat has encountered to date.”