We discuss how Talking Tom & Friends continues to grow, and how it is successfully using YouTube as part of the plan.

THE BIG INTERVIEW: Iza Login, Deputy CEO & Co-Founder, Outfit7

How has the Talking Tom brand performed over the past 12 months?

We’ve enjoyed continued success with our Talking Tom and Friends brand over the last 12 months. We’re continuously updating our apps – which now boast 250m MAU and 2.8b downloads – to deliver fresh, new content for fans, as well as bringing another level of storytelling with the launch of our 3D CGI-animated series. On the licensing front, we’ve expanded the brand’s presence across Asia with deals in China, South Korea and Japan, and have added a raft of licensees for branded merchandise in Canada, the US and Europe – spanning categories from apparel, accessories and back to school, to games, paper goods and stationery.

The launch of the animated series has been a big milestone for Outfit7 – can you talk me through the process you went through, from deciding you wanted to do it, through to it being screened?

One of the key reasons our app franchise has been so successful is that we have strong, fun and identifiable characters. We wanted to deepen fans’ engagement with these characters, and bring a whole new perspective to the brand. We have been creating content and storytelling from the beginning, but – following the huge appetite for our content on YouTube with our animated shorts – creating a longer-form animated series was a natural next step. It was incredibly important that we find the right partners and – with writing from Emmy Award-winner Tom Martin and an all-star voice cast led by Golden Globe-nominee Colin Hanks – I believe we accomplished that.

What benefits does screening it on YouTube offer?

We have had a strong relationship with YouTube from the moment our users first started creating content in our apps and sharing on the platform. Placing our animated series on our popular YouTube channels allows us to reach a huge number of fans globally with great content from their favourite characters. Innovations like YouTube Kids, where we are a flagship partner, also help to build more touchpoints with fans and broaden the reach of our content.

Is there also a chance it could be broadcast on TV channels?

We would never rule out the opportunity to reach a greater number of our fans, and certainly TV would be an opportunity to do this. Similarly we would also never drop the millions of fans who subscribe to our content on YouTube. Working with distribution partners collaboratively and growing the reach of our content is what’s important to us, regardless of whether the partner is digital or traditional.

How many licensees are on board with the consumer products programme now?

Talking Tom and Friends currently has 40 licensees on board the programme, with many active conversations that will launch the brand into new categories. We will also be announcing some great new deals over the next few days.

What are some of the most popular lines?

Our Talking Tom and Friends animated plush toys have been the most popular lines with fans, followed closely by the back to school lines. Apparel and footwear are also very popular among kids and adults, while our branded notebooks have sold out across Central and Eastern Europe.

Are you actively targeting new territories for Talking Tom? If so, which ones are on the hit list?

We are always looking to further the reach of our Talking Tom and Friends brand across all regions, but we are actively seeking licensing representation in Australia and France.

Are more apps due to be released?

Apps are the cornerstone of our business and will continue to be. Our development team has several projects in the pipeline. You’ll have to watch this space…

How important will Licensing Expo be for you? What are your aims for the show?

Licensing Expo offers us the opportunity to meet with all our global partners under one roof. Getting face-time with our agents and licensees is invaluable to us and we’re looking forward to some exciting conversations. It’s also a great place to meet with potential new partners and we’re looking forward to what the show has to offer this year.

What has been your biggest challenge with Talking Tom in the CP arena and how have you overcome it?

Talking Tom and Friends was one of the first digital brands to enter the licensing space. Licensees showed unfounded caution, worried that Talking Tom and Friends might no longer be popular by the time the products hit the market – given the expected lifecycle of many digital brands. But, with five years of constant growth, we’ve proved that the brand has longevity and is getting even stronger – dispelling the initial fears.

What would you most like to have achieved with the Talking Tom brand by the end of this year?

We’d hope to have continued the fantastic growth across all areas of our business and will endeavour to create the most fun and engaging products – be they apps, licensed merchandise or video content – to entertain Talking Tom and Friends fans across the globe.

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