Olivier Dumont of eOne Family Talks Peppa Pig and More in Q&A
By Anna Carugati for WorldScreen.com
TV KIDS: What has been the strategy for licensing and merchandising connected to Peppa Pig?
DUMONT: Our overall strategy for the brand has always been carefully managed growth that responds to consumer demand built through strong TV ratings rather than oversaturating the market too quickly with merchandise before the show has had time to attract a dedicated fan base through broadcast. Key to this strategy is securing and then working closely with leading preschool broadcasters in each country and convincing them to air the episodes back-to-back in regularly scheduled blocks. This is crucial to growing fan bases as the episodes are only 5-minutes long. With broadcast in place, we then work with either our own local office or carefully selected licensing agents who have on-the-ground knowledge of the markets. We find that retail exclusives are a good way of launching the property at retail, which is what we’ve done with Toys “R” Us in the U.S. and in Germany. Toys “R” Us was also a key launch partner in the U.K. In Australia, we launched in ABC Shop. Exclusive relationships such as these ensure full support at launch, building both confidence and momentum in the property and thereby encouraging other retailers to commit in depth with a proven property. Toys, publishing, DVD and apparel will always be the driving categories in which we look to launch the brand at retail, and in several European countries we’ve seen that digital, live events and FMCG [fast-moving consumer goods] follow more quickly after this than they would have done in the U.K.
TV KIDS: Has the rollout for Peppa Pig been different in each territory?
DUMONT: Although we’ve always approached each market with the same strategy in mind, sometimes countries can react to the brand in very different ways. In Spain and Italy, for example, it has taken off very quickly and the retail rollout has expanded much faster than we would ever have anticipated in the U.K., U.S. or Australia, which follow a more similar, slower rate of growth. Much of this is also dependent on the support of the broadcaster. Peppa is in a very different stage of its lifecycle in different territories. For example, in the U.K., where we are currently celebrating Peppa’s tenth anniversary, it is a very mature, well-embedded property with 88 licensees signed across all categories. So, in the U.K., our focus is to properly manage a very well-established and much-loved brand. In other markets, such as Italy, Spain, Australia, the U.S. and Germany, the brand is still new and we are very much in the phase of brand-building, while in other areas, such as Russia and South America, we are in the very early stage of introducing the brand to the marketplace. But, wherever we are, and whatever stage of the cycle Peppa is at, it is, and always will be, a television-led and television-driven property. Certainly over the next two years or so, one of our major focuses will be the new markets of South and Central America, and parts of Asia, notably Hong Kong and China.
In the U.S., our strategy has been very similar to the one we have adopted in the U.K., and that is to build the licensing program organically and manage growth strategically. The brand [used to air] in a half-hour slot on weekends on Nick Jr. and is now airing [multiple] times a day, at key times of the day, seven days a week on Nick Jr. thanks to the strong ratings. We want to create long-term plans to ensure we are building an evergreen brand. We will start to expand our reach in terms of retailers with product offerings currently on Amazon.com and in Walmart later this year. Going forward in the U.S. with Peppa Pig, 2015 will be an exciting year as we look to build bigger marketing efforts. We will begin television advertising with our key partners, as well as creating our own expanded marketing campaigns. Also, 2015 will see the launch of a live stage show as well as more costume character events to extend the brand experience with our fans.
TV KIDS: What do you look for in licensing and merchandising partners?
DUMONT: Our approach has always been to create licensing programs that are relevant to the individual territory. To that end, we seek local licensees that have expert knowledge of their home market. It’s far more time intensive than appointing a limited number of multi-territory or global partners; however, the benefits of appointing partners who understand the nuances of their market in terms of retailers, consumers and the broadcast platforms are clear for all to see.
TV KIDS: What are the major issues impacting the licensing and merchandising business?
DUMONT: One of the major issues we’ve encountered is the proliferation of counterfeit goods, which can be very difficult to remove from the market, particularly in some territories. Our response to that is to ensure that the official licensed merchandise retains a level of quality that will encourage consumers to buy the official products as opposed to fakes and where relevant pursue legal options to both protect the licensee, the brand and program as a whole.
TV KIDS: Tell us about the new property Winston Steinburger and Sir Dudley Ding Dong.
DUMONT: Winston was developed by a genius Canadian designer and animator, Mike Geiger. We picked it up and developed it with TELETOON in Canada and then further developed it with the production company Sticky Pictures and the ABC in Australia. It’s a fast-paced, laugh-out-loud comedy series with A-list talent behind it, which will sell very well to broadcasters who need strong comedy targeting a core kids’ audience of 6- to 10-year-olds.
TV KIDS: What are the qualities you look for in production and broadcast partners?
DUMONT: Our content strategy is currently to produce a range of projects that will cover a wide spectrum of target demos to ensure we are never in competition with ourselves and then maximize the commercial potential of each of these brands in the same focused and dedicated manner we built Peppa Pig. We currently have two shows in production which will be announced closer to their delivery date next year: one preschool series with a licensing program more aimed at preschool boys and one action-adventure-comedy series with a licensing program targeting 5- to 8-year-old boys. As you can see, this complements our two successful girl-skewing licensing programs: Peppa Pigand Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom. We also have one series in development targeting 6- to 9-year-old girls and, of course, our two lifestyle/pop culture brands, Skelanimals and SO SO Happy, which will be rolling out globally in 2015.
In terms of broadcasters, we look for the partners who first fall in love with the project, as we know they will really get behind the show and support it. Also, of course, the broadcasters that can deliver the best exposure to the shows—this is especially crucial to our strategy for building consumer products programs.
TV KIDS: Are you finding co-production or distribution opportunities with digital platforms?
DUMONT: We are definitely finding distribution opportunities with many digital platforms that can supplement the exposure we get from traditional broadcasters and home-entertainment partners. Co-production opportunities so far only seem to be tangible with Amazon but hopefully additional platforms such as Netflix will be investing in more original programming for kids very soon.