Firm's VP of global consumer products tells all about the first TV vehicle for the Paul Frank brand.

Mary Rafferty from Saban Brands US on how Julius Jr is taking over the world

What is the history behind the brand?

Julius Jr. is an animated pre-school series based on the creative spirit and loveable characters from the world of Paul Frank. Following the adventures of a young Julius the monkey and his friends Worry Bear, Sheree, Clancy and Ping, Julius Jr. marks the first television vehicle for the Paul Frank brand.

How did the brand perform in 2013 and the first half of 2014?

Julius Jr. premiered in the US on Nick Jr. in September 2013 and quickly became one of the top-rated pre-school properties across all kids networks, seeing strong ratings growth week over week and retention of key kids audiences. In early 2014, the series began airing repeat episodes on weekdays in addition to new episodes and currently airs six days a week on Nick Jr. Julius Jr. also won the Cynopsis Kids !magination Award for Best Pre-school Series and was renewed for a second season on Nick Jr, premiering this fall. The show has also gone on to premiere around the world, becoming a #1 kids programme on TF1 in France and also airing on Disney Junior in Italy and Germany, Discovery Kids in Latin America and coming soon to other markets worldwide.

How many licensees does it have to date, and in which categories?

Julius Jr. currently has many licensees including Fisher-Price, Random House Children’s Books, Parigi Group, Rubies and Amscan, just to name a few. Categories include toys, books, apparel, costumes, sleepwear, home goods, backpacks, bags, headwear, cold weather products, socks and more.

What are some of the best performing products?

The Julius Jr. Rock’n Playhouse Box from Fisher-Price is one of the top performing products to date, followed by the various character figures. The Random House Children’s Books also just launched at retail, and many other Julius Jr. items including toddler costumes and accessories are set to launch this fall.

Are you looking to expand the consumer products program further this year – for example into new categories or new territories?

Yes. We will be expanding into the Sporting Goods, Home, Seasonal, Health/Beauty, Food and Craft & Activity categories for Fall 2015.

Do you have any special marketing initiatives or promotional activity planned for the remainder of 2014?

September will kick-off with a three-week mall tour, featuring events at over 100 Kidgets clubs at Simon Malls across the country. Pre-schoolers will enjoy DIY activities, music, episode screenings, prizes and more and get the chance to meet Julius Jr. himself at ten select locations. At the end of September, Julius Jr. will join Preschool Celebration month at the Nickelodeon Suites Resort in Orlando, Florida for a weekend takeover, including Julius Jr. meet and greets, activities and more. Also this fall, the brand will be partnering with House Parties to offer 1,000 Julius Jr. parties hosted by parents across the country to promote the launch of Season 2 on Nick Jr. Through House Party, Julius Jr. will also be hosting a Chatterbox program, to promote brand engagement among 2,000 parents who will receive a fun-filled pack of Julius Jr. products for review. A digital marketing campaign on parenting and lifestyle websites will also launch in November to continue generating awareness for the premiere of the second season. Among these larger-scale marketing initiatives, ongoing social media activity will continue across all major platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube) as well as regular communication with a group of influential mommy bloggers.

What has the reaction from retail been like to the brand?

Reaction from retail has been great. We have brand support across all major mass retailers in the US for Julius Jr. Right out of the gate, retailers were excited about Julius Jr. because, not only was the content strong and the brand already recognisable from the world of Paul Frank, but it also had the power of the #1 pre-school company, Fisher-Price, as its global master toy licensee.

The pre-school sector is one of the most crowded – how does your brand stand out?

Julius Jr. stands out in a crowded pre-school space because of its strong roots coming from the world of Paul Frank, a globally recognised brand trusted by parents for nearly 20 years. Julius Jr. is also one of the only brands in the preschool space to appeal to a dual-gender audience, with its focus on music, imagination and invention, friendship and teamwork.

What would you most like to achieve with the brand by the end of 2014?

By the end of 2014, we’re looking forward to a successful launch of the second season of Julius Jr. as well as global expansion in both the television and consumer products sectors. We look forward to being able to deliver the Julius Jr. experience in-home with our consumer products line and also through the content of our very successful television show.

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