License Global spoke with Carla Silva, global head, licensing, King Features, to discuss Popeye’s legacy and the events planned for the character’s 90th anniversary.
When did Popeye first launch its licensing program?
Once Popeye’s cartoons began airing in the ‘60s, the consumer products program doubled in size. Many of the products–books, lunch boxes, costumes, toys–were aimed at kids, while items like collectibles and home goods appealed to the adult audience. Consumables were also one of the first licensed categories for the brand. Our fresh and canned spinach partners are some of Popeye’s most extended standing agreements, lasting almost 40 and 30 years, respectively. They are just as important to our program today as they were decades ago.
Does Popeye’s current licensing program offer product to both fans and people new to the cartoon?
Absolutely! Popeye is a brand that many people are familiar with since he is so ingrained in pop culture. We continually develop products that appeal to our classic fans. However, during the past few years, we’ve been aligning with fashion partners who have a very dedicated following. This has enabled us to grow our fan base provide exposure and establish the brand’s relevancy among fashion-savvy consumers.
What are the retail opportunities for Popeye’s 90th anniversary in apparel so far?
We’ve seen much success for the brand in the streetwear category through partnerships with brands like Supreme, Joyrich, Iceberg, A Bathing Ape and more. We are excited for more upcoming collaborations this year, including our latest global partnership with popular streetwear brand HUF, as well as anniversary collections with Scotch & Soda, Stradivarius (Inditex Group), GU (UNIQLO’s sister brand) and Zara, just to name a few.
What can fans look forward to for Popeye’s 90th celebration?
We debuted “Popeye’s Island Adventures” in December to kick-off the anniversary celebration. The original animated short series created for YouTube aims to introduce Popeye and his friends to today’s digitally native children. Fans can watch “Popeye’s Island Adventures” on YouTube and can check out the recently launched Popeye.com for the latest updates on his 90th anniversary Celebration.
Popeye’s anniversary also includes the return of “Popeye’s Cartoon Club” as an homage to the fan art that E.C. Segar often shared at the end of “The Thimble Theatre” comic strip. The campaign invites top cartoonists from around the world to contribute their own Popeye comics. Fresh content will roll out weekly on the newly relaunched ComicsKingdom.com. We also plan to launch a special 90th anniversary collection of men’s grooming products from Razor MD in multiple territories and release limited-edition art pieces from Mr. Brainwash, Super A and Don Oriolo.
The anniversary includes two international events. In Brazil, MIS (Museu da Imagem e do Som) comics exhibition will be hosting “The Popeye Day” to commemorate his 90th anniversary, and a Popeye musical will be hitting the stage in China.