"The definition of success in the girls' market is evolving and Universal's Spirit knows it" - Licensing.biz

"The definition of success in the girls' market is evolving and Universal's Spirit knows it"

Licensing.biz talks to Becki Fleming, VP franchise and marketing, Universal Brand Development EMEA about the studio's new girls' IP, Spirit Riding Free.
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BECKI FLEMING HEADSHOT

Can you talk us through the new IP, Spirit Riding Free - what's the story and what themes are you exploring within it?

DreamWorks Spirit Riding Free is an all-new original television series from DreamWorks Animation. It’s a coming-of-age story about three best friends, the horses they love and a world of adventure. 

The show centres around Lucky, a gutsy 12-year-old girl who befriends a wild mustang that she names Spirit. With her two best friends, Abigail and Pru, and their horses by her side, they explore what it really means to be wild and free. 

The show is resonating with young girls in the US and the consumer product programme has gone mass. It’s now rolling out across the EMEA region, and we couldn’t be more excited!

What is Spirit Riding Free bringing to the girls’ space - how is it challenging the girls category?

DreamWorks Spirit Riding Free has strong appeal among parents and kids due in part to its traditional, wholesome look and storylines that inspire young girls through a sense of adventure. 

The show demonstrates an open-minded philosophy of discovery and exploration in life, and it provides variety in the often homogeneous girl’s category. Grassroot affection for the brand is peaking across Europe, retailers are enthused and engaged and consumers are starting to demand product so the early signs right across Europe are good.

You guys have a history of redefining what works in the girls' market and that market itself (Trolls for instance) why is this important to you and how is Spirit reflective of this?

The definition of what makes a girls’ property successful has evolved and, as you pointed out, Universal, as a leader in the girls’ market, has helped shape the conversation. 

DreamWorks Spirit Riding Free reflects the idea that what girls and women are interested in and want to achieve, is truly diverse and should have no boundaries. There is value in authenticity; content that encourages children to be their best possible self, DreamWorks Spirit Riding Free plays to that trend perfectly.

How will this translate in the consumer product or wider licensing plans you have in place?

Our primary focus for all of our TV brands is always to secure the broadcast platform and build an engaged audience before launching licensing. Seasons 1 – 5 of DreamWorks Spirit Riding Free are available to watch on demand on Netflix and free to air partnerships are in place across the G6 with POP on board in the UK, Super RTL in Germany and DEAKids in Italy for example. 

We have a very strong hand in terms of viewership and brand awareness and product will now start to roll out this September 2018.

The licensing programme will be anchored by toys with soft lines and publishing to follow in 2019 and like the show itself, official licensed products will reflect the series’ sense of adventure, inspiring themes for girls and wholesome appeal.

What potential do you think Spirit has in licensing - how do you see the programme developing?

DreamWorks Spirit Riding Free licensing potential lies in the fact that it is timeless - it feels familiar but offers the girls’ category a refreshing point of difference. 

There is real depth in the storytelling, and this will add richness to the licensing programme as it develops.

For example, every season introduces new horse breeds to our animal loving audience, which will be reflected in the evolving product offering and soft lines will feature character imagery combined with on-trend tailoring, treatments and embellishments such as embroidery, water color print techniques and hand-stitched details.

What are the expectations for the toy line when that drops?

We expect it to be very popular and our social media marketing, in addition to the show itself, will inspire interest in a line of products not only amongst girls but parents too.

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