It may only have been on screens for 12 months, but in that short time ZingZillas has certainly achieved a lot. Even the team at BBC Worldwide thinks it’s “quite astounding”.
Last year, ZingZillas was the second top performing show for Cbeebies for four to six year olds, based on average share, with a second series now confirmed. In addition, a series of 20 shorts called Zingbops, based on the DJ Loose character, launched at the end of February and are also outperforming the average time slot.
This strong start for the broadcast platform has also been backed up with some good partners in the licensing space; over 20 in fact. Vivid Imaginations is the master toy licensee, and it is supported by the likes of H&A, 2Entertain, Penguin, Character World, Danilo, Worlds Apart, Bon Bon Buddies and Akyroyds to name just a few.
And, just like a real band, the next step for BBC Worldwide is to take the ZingZillas out on the road. The group has joined the line-up for five key family festivals taking place this summer, kicking off with Glastonbury (June 24th-26th) where ZingZillas will be appearing in the Kidzfield; Legoland Live (July 16th); Camp Bestival (July 28th-31st); The Lollibop in Regent’s Park (August 5th-7th); and Hampton Court Jolly Day (August 26th-29th).
“With ZingZillas we’ve ensured that all of the marketing strategy is about the performance,” says Stephanie McLernon-Davies, commercial director at BBC Worldwide. “They don’t do jungle photo ops, or meet and greets or walkarounds or anything like that. We’ve managed them as if they were JLS or Take That to see what kind of relationships pre-schoolers can build with characters who are considered to be their idols.
“We’re looking at something like 600,000+ people over the summer months who are going to watch the band perform, which is the biggest national marketing campaign that I’ve ever worked on in the licensing industry. Just to have that level of impact will be amazing.”
On top of the appearances, a special air guitar competition will also be running. BBC Worldwide will be distributing free inflatable guitars at all the festivals and asking mums to submit their child doing their best air guitar, either while watching ZingZillas on stage or at home watching it on TV. The winning air guitar will receive £250 worth of toys, as well as being printed in the official ZingZillas magazine.
“It’s another way for us to monitor how immersed kids are in the brand, how they get it,” McLernon-Davies continues.
The consumer products are also being tweaked slightly going forward, after research showed that the fan base for ZingZillas is pitching slightly younger than originally anticipated. The new plush coming through, for example, will be given a much cuter look including giving lead singer Zak a closed mouth.
Because music is core to the show, there are also likely to be opportunities to expand into the less traditional consumer products areas going forward. “ZingZillas isn’t just a toy proposition. In publishing, for our first launch we had an 18-button sound book, which outsold every other title we had in the range because of the fact it had a musical part to it. So, although we really want to sustain our toy and core categories at the moment, we wouldn’t be averse at all to reaching out to different types of distribution. I wouldn’t say they’d be core to our growth, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the brand in them.”
The live activity is also going to be something that continues past this summer, McLernon-Davies confirms. “The festivals will take us up to the autumn and then we’re looking at different live show opportunities for next year – potentially a live proposition from Easter and something else for the summer as well. So, live, and the performance element, will forever be key to all of our marketing.”
It’s certainly a packed schedule going forward for ZingZillas – both in terms of consumer products and the TV broadcast on Cbeebies – and McLernon-Davies has very firm aims for what she’d like the brand to have achieved by the end of 2011.
“I want ZingZillas to own the music space in the toy aisle. It was the number one new pre-school licence for last year, which carried on into January ’11, so it had a really strong launch platform. I want to continue to see it rising and owning its retail space, owning its genre and to have children remembering the ZingZillas as their first gig. I’d like the characters to be their first idols, with the licensing activity linking through that. I definitely think the proposition is strong enough.”