Tony the Tiger, Snap, Crackle and Pop, Coco the Monkey; all recognisable mascots which have sprung from TV ads for cereal.
However, the Sugar Puffs’ Honey Monster is probably the most well-known and popular. A statement underlined by the fact a licensing programme is now being built around it. Indeed, Famous Forever, Somerbond, Rubie’s and Ethos Housewares are already on board, with interest also coming from other sectors.
“It is hard to identify one single reason why we felt that the licensing of Honey Monster was the right strategic move for the company,” says John Price, marketing manager at HM Foods. “There are a number of factors that came together over the space of a couple of years that pointed us in that direction.
“The first one was the purchase of Sugar Puffs from Pepsico by the Big Bear Group. Under Pepsico, the brand had been neglected for some time and Big Bear felt that it could be grown by harnessing the UK’s love of both the product and Honey Monster.”
The new company was named Honey Monster Foods and, since then, it has launched new products in both the RTE cereal market, with Honey Waffles, and the snacking market with the cereal bar, Monster Puffs.
“Moving Honey Monster into other categories, as well as out of grocery shops altogether, seemed like the next logical step,” Price continues. “Another factor was the huge number of consumer queries we regularly get asking for Honey Monster toys and other paraphernalia. There are so many people out there with a strong affection for Honey Monster.”
The first tentative steps into the licensing world were taken when HM Foods was asked to produce a t-shirt for a PR campaign for the Variety Club. It was pretty much an instant hit, with celebrities including Justin Lee Collins and Rachel Stevens snapped wearing it, and Truffle Shuffle shifting many units.
An on-pack promotion where consumers had to collect two tokens and pay £4.99 to get a Honey Monster cuddly toy was the final factor which showed HM Foods there was enough demand to support a licensing programme. “We had over 26,000 redemptions, a number which surpassed our wildest expectations,” says Price.
There are two key target markets for the programme. The current target for Sugar Puffs, Honey Waffles and Monster Puffs is children aged five to 15, while adults who remember Honey Monster from their childhood will have products with a retro appeal created for them.
There is also a busy promotional schedule to help keep the character at the forefront of consumers’ minds.
Honey Monster is sponsoring the WWE DX Invasion and Undertaker’s Rest In Peace WWE tours this month. This follows on from the successful sponsorship of the WWE Wrestlemania Revenge Tour earlier this year, and will see the character getting into the ring to run a competition for the crowd. Over 240,000 people are expected to attend the tours, which take in several key cities across 14 dates.
The character has also recently started a segment on kids’ radio station, Fun Kids Radio, which has an average of 150,000 listeners. On top of this, Honey Monster will appear in panto this Christmas in Luton and New Brighton - if successful, this will be rolled out to more venues in 2010 – while the Honey Monster truck will be touring the country, making some 120 appearances.
So, what’s the appeal of the Honey Monster? “He’s just a big kid really, both physically and mentally,” says Price. “That means he’s innocent, fun to be around and sometimes mischievous. But to really understand his appeal, you really need to see him when we take him out to meet the public – people can’t help but come over and give him a cuddle or high five.”