“Humf is arguably the emerging star within Entertainment One’s portfolio of pre-school brands,” says Hannah Mungo, head of UK licensing at eOne.
Humf launched on Nick Jr in 2009 and now ranks as the fifth best performing show on the channel within its demographic. Broadcast has been backed up with the release of three DVDs so far, the first two of which – Humf and the Balloons and Humf and the Big Boots – having sold close to 60,000 units cumulatively. An iPhone app, framed and print pictures and inclusion in Redan’s Fun to Learn titles have also boosted the brand.
True to form though, eOne has been building the licensing programme slowly and steadily. 13 licensees are currently signed, with Igloo’s book launch – including four board books, two touch and feel books, one sound book and ebooks - this month marking the beginning of the merchandising drive in earnest. Publishing will be followed by plush from Aurora, melamine and lunch ware from Zak, nightwear and underwear from Cooneen and Misirli and games and puzzles from Jumbo in early 2012.
Other expected launches next year will come in the greetings, arts, crafts, stationery, wooden toys and bedroom accessories sectors among others.
“We have learnt the importance of building brands steadily and reacting to consumer demand rather than forcing it,” Mungo explains. “We’ve also developed a strict policy of only working with the best licensees in the business and never settling for second best. This means the required retail distribution, high quality and production standards, design capability and partners who are committed to building the brand and working with us over the long-term. It’s pointless to appoint the wrong partner just to push product out there.
“As a business we really believe in the power of being patient. It would have been easy to simply react to the huge pent up demand that we’ve had for product, the DVDs and apps for example have sold really well upon release, but we are committed to building the brand carefully to ensure longevity.”
You can’t blame eOne for this, of course. It exercised the same patience with Peppa Pig and Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom, undoubtedly two of the biggest pre-school properties on the market at the moment.
Mungo continues: “Getting the right partners on board is a challenge and launching in such a tough economic climate where retailers are risk averse, space is only dedicated to the top five licences and there is a lack of opportunity for new licensees.”
eOne is also looking to grow its chances of success with Humf by investing in the growing online and social media areas. “Mothers spend significant time online and it’s where a lot of purchasing decisions are made, so it’s absolutely essential that our brands have a presence on the web, via websites and social media channels,” Mungo states.
“A dedicated website for Humf launched in July. It features a shop where parents can buy licensed products, a news section so we can keep fans abreast of all the latest brand developments and, of course, it allows us to data capture which is essential for marketing and research purposes. Social media in the form of Facebook and Twitter platforms will launch in Q4.”
Mungo is clear in her aims for Humf going forward. “By the end of 2011, we hope to be celebrating the success of the book launch with secured listings in a number of retailers for 2012. It’ll be nice to give something back to the consumers who have been demanding Humf products since the broadcast launch in 2009.”
And longer term? “In five years, for Humf to be seen as a stable and much loved pre-school property, built very carefully to ensure longevity. Humf should be well on the way to becoming an evergreen and a favourite of every child four and under,” Mungo concludes.