Off the telly

Coolabi’s director of licensing, Valerie Fry, looks at what a brand without TV exposure will need to showcase its strengths, longevity and possibilities to potential toy partners.
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In today’s crowded marketplace, launching and building a successful new children’s merchandising range can be a challenge, especially for non-TV brands.

A toy partner is crucial to the success of the whole merchandising programme. They promote confidence in the brand, allow for the development of a fantastic and innovative range of products, help build retailer confidence and encourage other categories.

When securing a deal with a TV brand, the toy partner will look at a show’s selling points, such as number of episodes, channel and launch plans.

A non-TV brand will need to look at different ways to show its strengths, longevity and possibilities.

Taking the example of a publishing IP, the key factors to give potential toy partners confidence is book sales, number of territories and length of time in the market.

Having the support of the publishing partner is also key to the on-going success, as they continue to support and build the brand from its grass roots.

One further challenge is not having a strong visual creative base to lead the product design; often with a book, only front cover designs exist, with very few other elements that are necessary for a good style guide and subsequent product development.

It is possible to overcome this though, for example at Coolabi, we saw fantastic potential with Beast Quest.
The multi-million selling, adventure book series was an established publishing success, and the obvious next step was to take it to a digital platform.

Working in partnership with MiniClip, we developed a gaming app that fully embraces the core values of the brand – fantasy, adventure and friendship - and it looks awesome.

The brand and writing team worked directly with the developer to create characters, worlds and adventures straight from the pages of the book, and we now have incredibly strong visual assets that can be rolled out to other types of products, including toys.

Beast Quest received 5.4m downloads in its first six months. Developing a brand via the digital app route ensured immediate feedback, instant international reach and audience sales, and unlike TV, does not need to be sold and dubbed on a territory-by-territory basis.

This brand extension has generated much interest and potential new partnerships, which are currently under discussion.

So what have we found?

Via our work on Beast Quest and other key non-TV properties, it’s that the licensing industry is now much more willing to consider brand extensions for these, if brand owners are willing to invest and put the right stepping stones to succeed in place.

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