The last time I wrote a Numberjacks piece, the brand was still in its infancy. Of course, it’s not exactly queuing up for its pension now, but the amount it has achieved in such a short amount of time is a good indication of the kind of excitement it has generated amongst the trade.
Numberjacks is based on a unique idea; one which could have failed, as many original new properties have done in the past. But in the Granada Ventures stable it has thrived, capturing the imagination of licensees and the viewing public.
Created by Open Mind Productions, it currently airs on Cbeebies and regularly makes the number one slot, attracting audiences of over 450,000 viewers. The brand has sold over 150,000 copies across three DVDs to date and picked up the Royal Television Society Award in 2007 for the Best Children’s Educational Programme. It is also the most popular TV show amongst two to six year-olds, according to a Cbeebies magazine readership survey.
“Numberjacks is certainly unique in its mission to bring maths, numbers and counting into the everyday, providing a great balance between entertainment and education,” Julie Quirke, senior brand and licensing manager at Granada Ventures says. “It is this point of difference to other pre-school brands that inspired confidence early on that Numberjacks would succeed through developing the core brand values across multi-categories.”
Quirke has certainly been busy signing up the licensees. Within the toy sector, Gosh is developing a line of plush, keyrings, tents, outdoor items and garden games, while Gelert is creating ride-ons, skates and bikes. Available from May, the Gosh line will include soft character plush in a three-inch clip on, six-inch beanie and ten-inch plush with embroidered eyes and soft to touch fabric. The firm is also planning four-inch soft playballs and skittles.
Egmont was revealed as the publishing partner at London Toy Fair, while Ravensburger has just launched its first two Numberjacks products, a giant floor puzzle and a 2-in-a-box puzzle.
Granada’s partner in the melamine sector is Zak Designs, which will be releasing a lunchbox, drink bottle, plate and bowl this month, with a number of other items scheduled for roll out in the autumn next year. Zap UK is the bedding licensee (it is currently in the final stages of developing a duvet, pillow case, curtain and bedroom accessory range for release this spring), while GB Eye was the very first signed Numberjacks licensee for its poster line. Gemma Designs is the greeting cards and party stationery partner, while TDP/Aykroyds has signed up as nightwear partner. Finally, Kinnerton handles confectionary and will be releasing a chocolate advent calendar, counting jelly game and colour-in cups, while Lightbody is the celebration cakes partner.
“We’re delighted with the high calibre of licensees signed to date and the quality of the products being produced, like the Gosh plush, Ravensburger puzzles and Gelert bikes and skates,” Quirke continues. “We’re now in discussions and negotiating deals in new categories including electronic learning, back to school, stationery, apparel, footwear and accessories.”
So what’s the secret to Numberjacks’ appeal? It’s all about getting the right mix, says Quirke.
“It’s the mix of comedy, action and adventure that kids love and the appeal of each number, each with their own distinct character that kids relate to. Kids will enjoy role play, in plush and other ranges, between hero Numberjacks and Meany characters, and have fun going out on ‘missions’ on their Numberjack bikes and outdoor ranges. For parents, the brand is one of the few pre-school brands that is totally positive and educationally sound.”
Undoubtedly Numberjacks has got off to a great start, but the trick for Granada now is keeping the momentum going, with one eye on that all-important evergreen status.
“All the elements are there for Numberjacks to hold evergreen status, with a strong base of core categories in place and key secondary categories signing up now,” Quirke says confidently. “The level of creative excellence in Numberjacks’ product development will more than meet the expectations of the great fanbase. That, combined with continued strong viewing figures on Cbeebies (with a new audience peak in January) and 150,000 DVD sales in 2007 do much to underpin the huge popularity of the brand and future longevity.”