Metrostar's Claire Potter on how Toot the Tiny Tugboat is charming the licensing industry

Key product categories are toys, apparel and publishing for new brand.
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Firstly, can you tell us the history behind the brand?

Toot the Tiny Tugboat was commissioned by Channel 5’s Milkshake! and is based on a beautiful picture book, Toot & Pop!’ by Sebastien Braun and published by Harper Collins in the UK, USA and Japan. Adapted for television by Ian Carney (Octonauts, Shaun the Sheep), Toot is an eager and energetic tug in his first year of service. His job is to lead big boats in and out of the harbour and rescue ships in distress. Sometimes Toot favours fun instead of his duties, but he’s quick to learn and always keen to get back on board with his cheerful shout of ‘Heave Ho, Let’s Go!’. Classically illustrated, Toot the Tiny Tugboat is a fun and busy pre-school series which empowers small children to think they’re capable of big things no matter how little they are.

How has the brand performed to date in 2014?

Toot couldn’t have had a better start. He started on Milkshake on October 20th and since its launch Toot has claimed a 12.6 per cent share of four to nine year olds, and has already reached 653,000 viewers.

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

Toot’s first licensing outing was to BLE where he charmed everyone we introduced him to. We are having some very positive conversations and will be making announcements soon. Toot’s first Digital App will be launched early in 2015 and he already has his own website: www.toothetinytugboat.com

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What are some of the best performing products? Are you looking to expand the consumer products programme further this year – for example into new categories or new territories?

Key product categories for us are toys, apparel and publishing. Following these, we see stationery, greetings, calendars, bedding, bath and melamine as important for Toot.

Do you have any special marketing initiatives or promotional activity planned for early 2015?

Toot is shown on Milkshake on Channel 5 every week day and twice a week on S4C. In early 2015 we’ll be launching Toot on a soon to be announced pay-TV channel.

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

Very positive. As a character with a job, Toot is seen as a natural companion to classic brands like Thomas, Bob, Sam and Pat. Toot (as a tugboat) and Toot’s world (the harbour) are unique and lend themselves easily and naturally to pre-school play – whether on land or water.

The boys sector can traditionally be quite tricky – how does your brand stand out?

Toot’s a boat and he lives in a harbour with his boaty, nautical friends. There are no other boat properties in UK licensing. He’s also beautifully drawn with a classic feel which makes him stand out visually and makes it easy to imagine him being with us for a long time. Finally and importantly, he’s empowering. He is like a little boy who tries hard and doesn’t always get it right first time but he keeps on trying and gets it right in the end. He sends a strong message to little ones – that you may be tiny but you can be mighty.

What would you most like to achieve with the brand in 2015?

I would like every little boy between the ages of 18 months and four to know Toot and to be inspired by him. From a licensing point of view, we will have ranges in development on toys, apparel, publishing and more.

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Metrostar

It was while she was working at the BBC, that Claire Potter realised the power and untapped potential in television brands: ?At the time, all of the licensing focus was on pre-school and many great family or grown up series were being overlooked,? she explains.

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