For a child who loves dressing up, Rainbow Productions' wardrobe would be heaven.
With life-size costumes of more than 90 children’s characters, such as Fifi and the Flowertots, Angelina Ballerina and Bart Simpson, the firm prides itself on bringing licensed properties to life, as it has been doing for the last 25 years.
Originally an independent company, Rainbow Productions was acquired by Copyright Promotions Group in 1987. It gained independence once again in 1995, following an MBO by the present management.
“Think of Victor Kiam,” marketing manager Helen Ede says. “In our case we liked fluff so much we bought the company.”
The firm arranges Meet and Greet Appearances where by trained costume performers don the outfits and mingle with the audience. Activities run include a Barney Sing-A-Long, dance routines, story telling and there’s even a Snoopy Get Fit class. It also offers puppet and mall shows featuring licensed characters.
“Although a relatively small cog in the wheel of licensing and promotions, costume characters offer a low-cost, high impact way of communicating a brand and for this reason demand has grown year on year,” Ede explains.
Not only is a guest appearance a way of providing family-friendly entertainment, it can also help increase footfall and sales, encourage customer loyalty and attract media attention.
“We are unusual in being something of a hybrid,” Ede continues. “Whilst we are a licensee, we also offer a key PR support function to licensors, for example, the many characters at Brand Licensing.”
Along with representing studios like Warner Bros, Twentieth Century Fox and international television networks like Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and BBC, Rainbow Productions can also design and manufacture costumes for sports mascots, brand characters and even bespoke characters.
“Rainbow’s costume characters can be used in any and every market such as retailers, shopping centres, sports clubs, leisure attractions, local authorities and charities,” Ede insists.
“When first launched, the crowds to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were simply colossal. More recently Bob the Builder has seen a decade of unbroken success. We once drew 10,000 people to a Barney show in Blackpool and stopped traffic on the nearby motorway as people queued to get in. Well, perhaps that was more to do with Blackpool then Barney.”
It has been a hectic 12 months for the firm, moving all of its celebrity characters, production and office equipment to new and larger premises “all on the day after the Licensing Awards without missing an event or production deadline” Ede points out.
Moving forward, Rainbow Productions is determined to take costume characters to an even wider audience. And with a mix of 25 full time staff working across production, wardrobe, events, sales and marketing, plus about 200 freelance artists and road managers who look after character appearances onsite and 40 freelance costume makers, it seems more and more children will be in awe of some stellar performances on the way.
“We are conscious that we are presenting the ‘real’ character to the public and we have to keep the magic for the children. Our licensors rightly demand our events to be the highest quality as they are entrusting us with the management of that ‘real’ character as opposed to a licensed product. We need to employ quality staff and systems to ensure we always deliver,” Ede concludes.