ITVS GE's Trudi Hayward tells us everything about the return of Digimon - Licensing.biz

ITVS GE's Trudi Hayward tells us everything about the return of Digimon

The firm's SVP, head of global merchandising, talks about the upcoming toy line and further licensing plans.
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Firstly, how did the brand perform in 2013?

The Digimon series returns to TV and retail shelves during 2014 with a brand new season, Digimon Fusion. It’s a hugely exciting prospect for the teams at Saban Brands and ITV Studios Global Entertainment who are coordinating the brand’s relaunch with a fully immersive 360 brand licensing strategy encompassing TV, digital, online and retail activity. The all new Digimon Fusion series premiered on February 24th on CITV (weekday mornings at 7.15 and 12.55pm).

This new series marks the sixth season of the adventure-packed Digital Monster stories which have been such favourites amongst four to eight year old boys since their first launch in 1999. Licensing first time round was an international success. As before we’re delighted that Bandai is the master worldwide toy partner and the first in store ranges have been timed to coincide with CITV’s primetime weekday morning launch.

How many licensees does it have to date, and in which categories?

Bandai is our lead partner for spring summer 2014 product launches, but key phase one category lines will follow during autumn winter 2014 roll out including gaming, digital apps, periphery toys, games, dress up, publishing, apparel and DVD.

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What are some of the best performing products??

It’s too early to say as the programme is only just re-launching. However, Bandai’s range of action figures, collectibles and an interactive Digi-Fusion loader, Shoutmon’s Rockin Roller, plus collector cards are all competitively priced and supported by TV advertising and targeted retail promotions. Spring listings are confirmed with all major online, toy and grocery outlets.

Are you looking to sign more licensees this year – if so which categories are you targeting?

Yes we are – most definitely: games and puzzles, publishing, DVDs, digital gaming, apparel (nightwear and underwear) dress-up and role play are all core categories for the end of 2014 and spring summer 2015. We’re also licensing retro designs from the original seasons for fashion-led funky, adult apparel and accessories targeted to superfans of the brand.

Do you have any special marketing initiatives or promotional activity planned for 2014?

Innovative new creative and digital assets are available for licensee and retail partners. The brand has an impressive social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram and also a dedicated website (www.digimonfusion.com). The franchise also has exclusive game content, which supports the licensing programme. PR support and a mass media digital campaign are ongoing as well. Cross promotions with Bandai, our retail and other licensing partners are planned from summer 2014.

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What has the reaction from retail been like to the brand??

Very enthusiastic. This is a popular and successful brand with an excellent track record. The toy line is firmly secured in key spring summer listings with extensions planned for autumn winter. This gives us a strong launch platform for cross category extensions from Q4 2014.

What would you most like to achieve with the brand by the end of 2014??

We intend to re-establish the brand profile with the core kid audience and complete our phase one product rollout plans by the end of 2014. With 79 eps in the new 6th season, CITV are launching the first 30 episodes of the Digimon Fusion franchise in 2014. Our strategy is to ensure that the brand is perfectly positioned for extension into the mass market as further new episodes of Digimon Fusion launch across 2015 and 2016.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

The Digimon brand already has a reputation as a hugely successful and long-running animation franchise. With the terrific digital and marketing support we’re getting from Saban Brands and strong enthusiasm from CITV, and retail partners, we firmly believe that Digimon Fusion will resonate with today’s digital savvy kids and reinforce its existing reputation on TV, online and at retail.

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