Since debuting in the UK in May 2006, Hannah Montana has become a major franchise for the Walt Disney Company – and Dominic Worsley, director of franchise marketing for the UK and Ireland at DCP, is convinced things can get even better, with 2009 set to be the property’s biggest year yet.
“Hannah Montana is a tween priority for the Walt Disney Company and is receiving extensive company-wide support, including home entertainment and studios,” Worsley explains to Licensing.biz. “There is a huge amount of exciting new content and activity launching this year to really make 2009 the year of Hannah Montana.
“March will see Hannah Montana kick start her biggest year ever with a new look, new music and new stories, with season three of her popular series premiering on Disney Channel and supported by an extensive promotional campaign. Then, in May, Hannah’s first full length feature film launches in cinemas across the UK, supported by a huge advertising and promotional campaign.”
DCP is already working with a broad range of licensees covering the areas of home, food, health and beauty, toys, apparel, accessories and footwear, stationery and publishing. Top selling items range from a dance mat, through to apparel and bags.
Many of the existing licensees are extending their ranges this year, while most are developing new products to tie in with the movie. For example, Character Options will be growing its audio electronics line; Character World has extended into inflatable furniture and camping chairs; Lazerbuilt is rolling out iPod skins and earphones and Jumbo will have a new arts and crafts line.
On top of this, Mattel is planning a collection of dolls based on Hannah Montana The Movie; Wesco will launch USB devices and Martin Yaffe will have branded furniture for tween girls, including vanity units and standing mirrors.
“Whilst we currently have a broad portfolio of Hannah Montana products across different categories, we are always looking to ensure that we can provide the products that tweens want and, therefore, we would be interested in exploring new areas if we feel there will be demand,” Worsley continues.
DCP is already well rehearsed in providing exactly what tweens want: when it first began to develop products for High School Musical, the firm brought in outside tween specialists and designers to advise on product development. Armed with this knowledge, it went on to roll out a line of products it was confident would be relevant to its audience.
“At Disney we’re really proud of the quality products we bring to market, that not only kids adore but that parents trust as well,” Worsley adds. “We will continue to develop our product portfolio, outside of traditional licensing areas, as necessary to reflect this.
“Musical instruments were a natural fit for Hannah Montana, as music and singing are a fundamental part of the franchise. With this range, tweens can learn to play or improve their existing skills using these high spec instruments. Produced with Re:creation and Washburn, the range of products available will grow this year to include 30-inch electric and acoustic guitars, as well as three quarter scale.”
The future is certainly looking bright for Hannah Montana as a brand, and DCP is well aware of what it has to achieve to keep it in the spotlight.
“When developing content for tween audiences it is imperative to continually understand and tap into what this market wants,” says Worsley. “Trends for this age group change quickly, so as a company it is our challenge to keep up with this. The interest in Hannah Montana is incredibly strong and we’re confident that with all the exciting content planned for this year, she will continue to be a big hit with our tween audience.
“This opens up further opportunities across many lines of business and DCP will continue to support with compelling new products that really capture what fans love about these properties. The Walt Disney Company as a whole will continue to keep tween as a core demographic for the company and will continue to develop new content aimed at that audience.”