MIPCOM, Cannes: It emerged from the MIPCOM JUNIOR conference on licensing trends and opportunities that six years ago, it was a relatively simple matter to define the six to 11 year old television market. Now this age group and even younger are adopting a range of multi-media experiences ranging from online to ipods and mobiles, said Elie Dekel, executive vice president, Licensing & Merchandising 20th Century Fox, USA.
“We realised we had to look beyond traditions children’s programming. We were forced to look at key demographics. If we were losing 8-year-olds what were 9-year-olds into. We found we had to be more focused and more selective,’ said Kirk Bloomgarden, CEO, The Copyright Promotions Licensing Group Ltd, UK.
There was a time when one launched a programme and the merchandising at the same time, commented Bloomgarden. Now one had to tell a broadcaster it could take 12 – 18 months before merchandise could hit the market place. Previously one could have a 13-part kids programme running once a week whereas now one had to have a minimum 26-episode and ideally 59 episodes.
The panellists agreed it was still important “to get to mom’ in retail and to make sure moms gravitated to the right part of the store.
The link between kids programmes and food was still a strong marketing tool but now the ads had to be balanced with healthy food products, said Dekel. As a result in the US “millions of dollars were going away from children’s advertising’.
While the focus on healthy eating habits for children had become an overriding factor in advertising in the US and UK, this was not yet the case in Europe. Bloomgarden explained that from a UK perspective, the double digit revenue obtained from the food licensing arena was now a single digit. “Now we are working on healthier food areas such as organic, the greengrocer who sells organic fruits and vegetables, and branding these. We stay away from foods with lots of sugar and salt. It has made us change our model.’
Children’s programming also has to start reflecting healthy living habits and a programme like Lazy Town with characters called Avid Athlete and Health Nut are doing well in the UK and US.
The panellists defined some of the criteria necessary when adopting a programme for licensing.
- There had to be a clear distinct voice – often characters all look the same and the same attitudes
- Humour was good
- Kids are more aware of the environment today and environmental issues should resonate with them, for example stay away from plastic and include biodegradable
- Part of planning should include daily episodes and not run weekly
- Broadcasters are more open to discussing merchandising when a series does well
- Retailers want to be involved right from the start and they want to understand the impact of merchandise on the consumer
- Talk to merchandisers and retailers when you start creating your project