For half a century, Scholastic's Clifford the Big Red Dog property has endured to become a leading children's favorite. With more than 126 million books in print and a television series that is broadcast in more than 30 countries and 12 languages around the globe, it is not surprising that Scholastic would celebrate Clifford's golden anniversary with fanfare.
Launched Sept. 24 with the Biggest Birthday Party Ever campaign, Scholastic kicked off a year-long national promotion to celebrate 50 years of Clifford at classrooms around the U.S. in addition to the launch of new publishing initiatives, a birthday card program and a national sweepstakes leading up to his official birthday, Feb. 14, 2013.
The Clifford property found a home at Scholastic in 1962. Commercial artist Norman Bridwell brought original Clifford the Big Red Dog artwork to the publishing house and soon a book was in the works. The partnership proved to be beneficial to both parties: Bridwell landed a book deal that would allow him to support his family, while Clifford helped establish Scholastic Books as a premiere publishing company.
Fifty years on and Clifford continues to be a flagship brand for Scholastic that is supported in all aspects of the business–from publishing to consumer products.
"Scholastic certainly does not have any other brands that are 50-years-old. I'd say it's our most important brand," says Leslye Schaefer, senior vice president of marketing and consumer products, Scholastic Media. "Clifford really embodies what Scholastic is all about. We're a mission-driven company that reinforces the love of learning and that follows Clifford's goals, including his 10 Big Ideas."
Clifford's Big Ideas (share, help others, be kind, be responsible, play fair, be a good friend, believe in yourself, respect others, work together and be truthful) aim to support children's growing understanding of how their actions relate to themselves and others, and to instill value-based life lessons.
It's this timeless message and play pattern that has ensured Clifford endures as a favorite of children, parents and educators.
Scholastic will release a number of new titles for Clifford, as well as a collection of six stories originally published between 1963 and 1977,Norman Bridwell's Clifford Collection. The special-edition collection also includes the original 1962 art that inspired the original Clifford book series. The collection hit shelves in September, with new titles including Clifford's Birthday Party and Clifford's Bedtime Story set for spring 2013 release.
Other launches that have already commenced include a "Clifford's Big Birthday" app and Facebook apps, a national sweepstakes for a Clifford's Big Birthday party extravaganza and a birthday card campaign.
Scholastic also premiered Clifford's Really Big Movie on PBS Kids this month, and Lionsgate will release a celebratory DVD in 2013.
For consumer products, partners on board to celebrate include plush from Douglas and Zoobies, games and puzzles from Patch Products and Canadian Games, party supplies from BuySeasons and coloring and activity books from Bendon.
Promotional partners have also been secured. Y-USA will host Clifford-themed birthday parties across the country, while HandsOn Network, a volunteer management organization, will partner with Scholastic for the ongoing Clifford Be Big campaign, which raises awareness for Clifford's Big Ideas.
There's also talk of a theatrical release for Clifford the Big Red Dog in partnership with Universal. Details have yet to be confirmed, but it's likely the property will hit theaters in the future, ensuring Clifford will make the leap to yet another form of entertainment for years to come.
"The beauty of Clifford is his simplicity and how relatable he is," says Schaefer. "He is not a common dog, but he leads a common life. He is kind, funny and he's not perfect. I think children really appreciate his teachings and understand them, and when they see him, they get a kick."