Can you tell me a bit about the publishing programme for Moomins?
The Moomins first appeared in 1945 as the stars of books written by the Finnish-Swedish writer and artist, Tove Jansson. She created a charming and magical world unlike any other, in which the brave, adventurous, yet family-focused and home-loving Moomins lived. The Moomins proved a success beyond her – or anyone’s – wildest dreams, beginning their conquest of publishing markets all over the world with the publication of Finn Family Moomintroll in 1948. In total, Tove Jansson wrote and illustrated nine novels and four picture books about the Moomins. Today those books have been translated into more than 50 languages and are still in print all over the world.
The popularity of the Moomins quickly led to the publication of a completely original Moomin comic strip. Created for the UK newspaper The Evening News and first published in 1954, the strip ran for twenty years, was syndicated to over 40 countries and around 120 newspapers, and had over 20 million readers daily.
Today, the Moomins is published in an extensive array of formats and languages. In the UK specifically, the original Tove Jansson novels, picture books and comic strips are complemented by a range of picture storybooks from Puffin and a mindfulness colouring book from Macmillan.
How important is the publishing market to the property?
The values that made the characters so loved by readers are still central to the property’s appeal, so publishing is a key element of the brand’s strategy. The licensing campaign has brought the Moomins and their friends to many new formats and categories that appeal to a broad audience, but always in a way that reflects, and is inspired by, the extraordinary vision of Tove Jannsson.
Are there any other licensing areas the brand will be tapping into in the future?
While publishing provides the foundation on which the Moomin brand has been built, and is still very successful, the appeal of the characters has successfully translated to a wide but carefully chosen range of merchandise, from ceramics to plush, apparel and stationery. In the UK specifically, the long-term vision for the brand recognises the Moomins’ appeal across many age groups, which includes a strong focus on young adult women for whom the charm and friendly, bohemian lifestyle of the Moomins has made this a popular style and fashion brand.
Which licensing partners are already on board for Moomins?
The UK licensing programme now boasts 20 licensees. In fact so strong has been the consumer appeal of licensed Moomin output that in 2011 the first London Moomin Shop opened in Covent Garden.
Our licensee partners have been carefully chosen for the quality of their design and product and for their empathy to the brand and its long-term vision. Among the many licensees on board, some of the longest established are Aurora for plush, Blueprint for stationery, Disaster Designs for flasks and wallets and Somerbond for ladies’ nightwear.
What are your plans for the brand throughout 2016?
Having established that Moomins has enormous appeal to young women, we are looking to build on the success that Moomin sleepwear has enjoyed and further develop the characters in the fashion arena.
In addition, as the retail business grows apace, we are working to build on the popularity of the Moomin imagery with a more coordinated display approach, that clearly signals the brand and its strengths to consumers whatever the product and outlet.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A new Moomins television series is on the way. The lead-up to this event – and the show itself – is set to catapult Moomin to the forefront of even more consumers’ minds. In particular, we expect the series will open up an exciting new opportunity to expand the UK licensing programme beyond its young adult women target audience, with new ranges of product that are sure to delight a much younger demographic across both sexes.