It may be 20 years in 2009 since Wallace & Gromit first appeared on our TV screens with A Grand Day Out, but the phenomenal success of the latest half hour over Christmas has underlined the fact that the fan base for the brand is stronger than ever.
“Wallace and Gromit are unique in that they have a broad appeal and have become synonymous with the family enjoying being together at Christmas or on a bank holiday,” explains Sean Clarke, head of Aardman Rights. “Children enjoy the slapstick and action, whilst adults appreciate the humour, detail and craft behind the production. There also tends to be a huge amount of pride in the UK that Wallace and Gromit have won three Oscars, which helps to create a very positive connection and warmth to the brand.”
As a licensed property, there are 30 UK licensees currently, with the latest to come on board being Wow Stuff, Robert Harrop, Carlton Publishing and Susan Prescott Games.
As well as the ‘classic’ Wallace and Gromit, there is also licensed product available for A Matter of Loaf and Death: Rainbow Designs is producing a line of plush and gift items, Danilo will be rolling out cards and calendars, Egmont has created recipe and storybooks, while ECP has a range of traditional cake and storage tins.
A number of promotions are also linked to the TV and DVD release of A Matter of Loaf and Death. Kingsmill will be doing two promotions for TV and DVD, with an on-pack offer over a total of 80 million loaves of bread. In addition, the two characters have become honorary members of the Master Bakers Association, which in turn has created a range of cake decals for thousands of independent bakery stores to sell, along with in-store marketing materials promoting the film.
Aardman has also teamed up with Pyrex to give away a range of free Wallace and Gromit baking gifts, as well as Pyrex non-stick bakeware.
“But probably the most visible piece of activity over Christmas was the Wallace and Gromit BBC Christmas idents that we created,” says Clarke. “This gave great visibility to the animated duo as part of the BBC One Christmas schedule.”
Surprisingly for a brand as well established as Wallace and Gromit, Aardman is having no difficulty in finding new areas for it to move into, both product and marketing wise. Recent deals include tie-ups with upmarket retailer Harvey Nichols and the Science Museum, for example. And more could be on the cards. “We always look to build mutually beneficial partnerships that help us keep the Wallace and Gromit brand fresh and relevant to our audience,” continues Clarke. “A good example of this is a new relationship we have just announced with Npower, where Wallace and Gromit are going to front a fully integrated campaign on TV, radio and print promoting Energy Efficiency.”
Meanwhile, in terms of product Aardman is looking to develop the area of quirky gifts and contraptions, with Wow Stuff lining up its range for launch this autumn. More retro/traditional toys, eco and science-based products are also on the company’s wish list for the brand.
“I think it is fair to say that Wallace and Gromit is an evergreen brand,” Clarke concludes. “This year we celebrate 20 years of Wallace and Gromit from when A Grand Day Out was first premiered and we are still going strong. Over the next five years we will continue to look to grow and diversify into new areas. In particular, live events and exhibitions and there are also discussions with some new partners for some unique Wallace and Gromit promotions that will start from 2010.”