INTERVIEW: Katie Foster, Director of Brand & Licensing, Europe, LazyTown

In a time when the issue of health and obesity in children has never had a higher profile, LazyTown ? and its creator Magnus Scheving, or Sportacus as he?s better known to a generation of children ? has been right on the money for a long time now.
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The Icelandic television show of the same name – which originally began life as a live action play, according to web encyclopaedia Wikipedia – now airs in over 100 countries and has a burgeoning licensing and merchandising program to match the stature of its TV presence.

The show has been widely credited with helping to halt the rising curve of obesity in Iceland (which has apparently stopped for the first time in ten years). The plan now is to continue to build on this message in all territories. To help with this, a dedicated office opened in London in January, headed up by former BBC, Hit and Granada licensing executive, Katie Foster, and Catrina Stock from Inspire GLG.

“[The move] was taken to ensure that as the brand grows in Europe we can give it the best possible support,” Foster explains to Licensing.biz. “Having a team ‘on the ground’ or an hours flight time away helps enormously with communication and the assistance we can give our partners, as well as the speed with which we can respond to them.”

Foster and Stock will be working closely with all LazyTown agents, supporting the activities of its pan-European licensees, building partnerships in key areas of growth and by looking at other ways to develop the brand.

Agents in Europe currently include Super RTL (Germany), Kidz Entertainment (Scandinavia), TLC (UK) and Copyright Promotions (Spain/France) amongst others. However, a priority for Foster going forward is to sign up more, along with additional licensees, with the aim of getting LazyTown to as many children as possible.

“On a higher level it is to use the unique qualities of LazyTown to help address the health issues facing children today, mainly overweight and obesity of course,” Foster continues.

“LazyTown is the only global brand dedicated to children’s health, it has a proven record of being able to inspire children all over the world to make healthy choices that improve their quality of life. That is what it is all about in the end.”

In terms of merchandise, top sellers include DVDs, music, books, toys, housewares and stage show tickets, while the firm is looking to grow its food licensing activity. “We are finalising our food strategy currently and once this is done we anticipate our agents will be signing up a number of very interested licensees,” Foster teases.

“Our challenges have been getting retailers to understand the LazyTown brand philosophy and that it is much more than a TV show,” she continues. “We like to think of LazyTown as a lifestyle brand and we know that it takes some work on our part to inform people about this. But we are getting there, step by step.”

The main aim for Foster, though, is to become an everyday part of children’s lives, motivating them to make healthy lifestyle choices. “We hope that our message will be much stronger in five years than it is now and sincerely believe that this will be the case. LazyTown is a unique brand, this we think will ensure both the growth of the company and the strength of the message.”

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