Esther Buschau, brand leader on Captain McFinn, explains how the brand's Swim & Play app has achieved over 50,000 downloads since the start of 2015.

Esther Buschau on how Captain McFinn is shaking up the world of children’s media

Firstly, can you tell me the history behind the brand?

The brand of Captain McFinn set out on a journey in 2006 to create a brand that enriches the lives of pre-school aged children, teaching them to respect themselves, others and the incredible world around them. The ultimate goal was to make the world a better place in which to live, one child (and one fish) at a time.

The team at Captain McFinn started by creating four children’s books that show how teamwork and kindness are the tools kids need to understand and handle bullies. From there, the Captain McFinn brand has grown to include additional books, music CDs, videos, retail locations and retail products, an interactive smartphone application experience and much more.

How did the brand perform over the past 12 months?

Over the last 12 months, the brand has successfully created and launched the Captain McFinn Swim & Play application, the first interactive live educational experience for smartphone and tablet devices. 

With over 50,000 downloads since the start of 2015, it is being recognised by industry leading awards and feature publications as a dramatic shift in children’s programming and engagement. In addition, the educational elements for classroom instruction is being taught in over 380 schools across the country and the October ‘Malls and Retailers Unite’ initiative, a Captain McFinn themed campaign driving awareness to delivering an anti-bullying message to elementary school children across the country, was supported by over 160 retail mall locations across the country, earning national distinction and awards.

How many licensees does it have to date (in the UK and worldwide) and in which categories?

Captain McFinn and Friends are working with several bricks and mortar brands to licensee the Captain McFinn characters to provide a virtual kids club on behalf of the partnering brand.

What are some of the best performing products?

Captain McFinn Swim and Play is the first children’s application allowing viewers to interact and communicate in a secure environment with live hosts in a way that has never been done with children’s media in over 65 years. 

Live hosts navigate viewers through an interactive experience featuring original animated adventures with a lovable cast of characters, games and lessons, fulfilling a void in pre-school development. 

While many brands focus on ABC’s/123’s, Captain McFinn & Friends equips children with pro-social tools to succeed in pre-school. The ‘edutainment’ content presents moral dilemmas and behavior models for viewers, helping create positive change in their world. 

In addition, the SHARK Patrol educational curriculum is supported and utilised in over 380 schools across the country to bring the lessons of Captain McFinn into the classroom.

Finally, in partnership with Fuhu Nabi, Captain McFinn’s Swim and Play will be pushed to over 3 million existing Nabi users as well as preinstalled into all future Nabi devices to be sold/purchased.

Are you looking to expand the consumer products programme further this year?

We are looking to expand the product into a white label solution in which larger brands can utilise the unique lineup of characters, lessons and creative to power their own content in delivering a message that changes the lives of children around the world through interactive storytelling.

Do you have any special marketing initiatives or promotional activity planned for 2015?

We have the launch of Captain McFinn Swim and Play, the launch of white label solution of Captain McFinn Swim and Play and the launch of a virtual aquarium in national malls that brings the experience into play areas of retail locations for children to freely play.

What has the retail reaction been like to the brand?

Currently, Captain McFinn products are available online through as well as through a single retail store located in North-East Ohio.

In addition to a lineup of clothes, CD’s, books, DVD’s, games, toys, puppets and other products, the store features a popular Captain McFinn themed birthday party venue, which holds private parties for children.

What are some of the main challenges you’ve come up against? And how have you overcome them?

Technical challenges and overcoming communicating the benefits of a new technology that involves live interaction. The way people view the children media entertainment world has not changed in 65 years and Captain McFinn is trying to revolutionise how children engage with the brand. 

Another challenge is mass consumption and exposure, which has been able to be concurred through partnerships with Fuhu Nabi and an upcoming announcement with another national distribution partner.

What would you most like to achieve with the brand in 2015?
We want to achieve 1.5m downloads of the the Swim and Play application and partner with a major hardware provider to implement Swim and Play as an included app within their device.

We’d also like to team with a national educational partner/retail brand to enter into a joint venture with a branded version of Swim and Play for their customer base.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Captain McFinn has earned honors with the following awards for the content and revolutionary approach to live children’s programing:

  • The National Parenting Award – 2012
  • Dr. Toy Award – 2012
  • Clarion Award – 2013
  • Mom’s Choice Awards – 2013
  • Maxi Gold Award – 2014
  • Tilly Wig Award – 2015

Most recently, Captain McFinn’s Swim and Play for Captain McFinn and Friends has been named a finalist in the 2015 Cynopsis Kids !magination Awards in the category of Online Interactive Experience.

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