The much anticipated animated South African film, Jock of the Bushveld 3D, will be
released on 29 July. One of the unique aspects of the film is its merchandising, which is
a first for South African animation, writes Karen van Schalkwyk.
Chimera Communications’ Cheryl Hunter, the “PR engine’ for Jock of the Bushveld 3D,
explains that the film has numerous character licence and merchandising partners.
“Among many other partners Jock apparel will be sold in Woolworths and there will be a
Nestle Smarties competition run together with the 40g box.’
Jock partners that will run promotions and merchandising from May onwards (some
from July) for two or three months after the movie’s launch include Bobtail, Beeno
Biscuits, BP, Edgars, Mr Price, KFC, Penguin Books and FNB. Most retailers will sell Jock-
themed Lacey’s Lucky Packets and bubbles in their stores.
One of the first merchandising partners to come on board was Edgars. Says Hunter:
“Edgars specialist buyer, Alcora du Plessis, made it very clear from the start that they
were proud to be aligned with the movie as it forms part of South Africa’s heritage that
almost everyone can relate to (the film is based on Sir Percy Fitzpatrick’s classic novel of
the same name). Jock T-shirts will be available at selected Edgars stores.’
Animation is one of the biggest genres to make use of character licensing and
merchandising. “Historically most of the animated films with licensing potential that have
been shown in South Africa have come from the US or Europe,’ continues Hunter. “As
Jock is one of the first full length animated movies to be made in South Africa, there has
not been much opportunity for local merchandising until now.
“Getting buy-in from companies was relatively straightforward. Most of the companies
we approached already had some experience in character licensing and when presented
with an opportunity to get involved with Jock, they jumped at the chance. We set up a
small 3D viewing facility at our production studio, put together a comprehensive
marketing presentation and invested in a top class style guide at the outset so that
marketers could see we were really serious about the project.’
The film was entirely financed by private equity which means that no licensees have
invested directly in the film.
“Licensing deals were designed to suit the particular needs of each licensee,’ notes
Hunter. “Some were straight royalty fees on sales and some were a one-off fee. The
challenge was convincing marketers that we have the capability in this country of making
a world class animated film. Once they saw some of the footage they were
One aspect that the Jock merchandising team underestimated was the keen market
interest in the film. “Our initial hope was to secure brands in four of five main categories
– clothing, toys, dog food and books but we have ended up with about 15 licensees.
When we started out we did not have any particular brands in mind – we simply wanted
to ensure that those we signed up share some of the values and spirit of the Jock
brand,’ comments Hunter.
Although the movie is still in final stages of post-production some excerpts have already
been screened locally and internationally. According to Hunter the response has been
phenomenal. “This is true even of overseas festivals such as Annecy in France, where
the audience had no existing awareness of the book and so no cultural affinity for the
story. We believe that kids everywhere will love the film. This will obviously impact on
merchandising sales as kids like to associate their favorite movies beyond the cinema
environment and nag their parents to buy character-themed products.’
Hunter believes that more local films will go the merchandising route. “The local appetite
for character licensing is substantial and the additional revenue stream that is created
enables film producers to spread the financial risk beyond the total reliance on box office
Andy Rice, marketing director for Jock, states: “We have had fantastic support from
South African marketers. Without exception they have welcomed the brand that we are
sure will reach a global audience.’