Peppa Pig, a lovable 4-year-old piglet marketed for the preschool set, is big business for Entertainment One. The brand, which is maturing in the U.K., picked up steam around the globe in 2012, expanding to major territories including the U.S., Australia, Spain, Russia and Benelux. In 2013, the strategy calls for continued growth and expansion, establishing Peppa firmly overseas.
According to eOne, the international programs for Peppa are following the U.K. licensing model, allowing for regional specificities.
"We have followed the U.K. licensing model in terms of carefully managed growth, however the U.K. program is significantly more mature, so internationally we are not as trend led," says Ami Dieckman, licensing manager, international, eOne. "We strongly believe that it's important to have complete coordination across all aspects of the business–broadcast, home entertainment, merchandising and brand localization."
"Peppa Pig" currently airs on Nick Jr. in the U.S., ABC in Australia, national broadcaster RTVE and Disney in Spain, Karusel in Russia and Nickelodeon in Benelux. In 2014, eOne will take the series into Asia and Latin America, with accompanying merchandise programs, in 2014.
Of the international launches last year, Spain and Australia have shown tremendous promise, says Dieckman, as product rolled out late last year.
"Spain has gotten off to a phenomenal start, finding a home on leading broadcaster RTVE (CLAN), where it is rated a No. 1 show after one month of airing," says Dieckman. "This popularity has translated into strong sell-through for merchandise. Australia will also see rapid growth this year, with promotional fast moving consumer goods categories in discussion. Smaller territories such as Benelux are also gathering momentum with several licensees signed in a relatively short space of time."
Spain, which Dieckman calls eOne's "fastest growing territory in Europe," has key category licensees on board including Bandai, Educa, Famosa and Simba/Smoby. The success of Spain's program is particularly impressive considering the country's down economy. In 2011, the year the series launched in Spain, the country was facing exorbitantly high unemployment rates–nearly one in every four citizens was unemployed.
"Spain and Greece are great examples of how eOne has overcome a challenging retail climate, and the brand's success in these markets is a testament to the strength of the animated TV show, which has huge universal appeal," says Dieckman.
eOne has increased the consumer product program in Australia significantly in the past six months, capitalizing on the show's popularity and organic regional growth. ABC Shops & Centres is leading the licensee push in Australia, with Big Balloon, Wildcard, Courier Luggage, Sportscards, Vimwood and Tree Toys also supporting the program with ranges. Publisher Penguin is also in the Peppa Pig stable, as is Hopscotch-Fox Entertainment for direct-to-video entertainment. Retailers Target, Big W, Toys 'R' Us, Myer and Toyworld are all carrying merchandise.
In the U.S., Peppa is gathering momentum. An exclusive toy program at Toys 'R' Us launched last fall, and talks are underway to expand the program to multiple retailers. Fisher-Price holds the master toy license, while Scholastic and Candlewick are on board for publishing.
"Peppa performed extremely well this fall in the U.S. Consumers have been looking for product since it has been on-air since November 2011," says Joan Grasso, vice president, licensing, North America, eOne. "It performed about 25 percent above our initial plan for shipment, so the program was more successful than we had initially planned for."
The success, says Grasso, can be attributed in part to the strong retailer support Peppa received from TRU, which included dedicated end cap space and inclusion in holiday promotions.
Because of its initial success, the program is expanding further in the U.S. and branching out into categories beyond toys and publishing. Apparel programs are getting underway, with Evy of California named apparel partner for an initial range. Apparel will first launch at specialty, says Grasso, and then move into mass retailers. Health and beauty partners are on deck, as well as partners for accessories. Peppa Pig is also going digital. An app just launched in the U.S. from P2 Games.
The slow program build is one that worked for the property in the U.K., and is comfortable for eOne to utilize internationally.
"If you have too much product on shelf too quickly, that can kill the brand," says Grasso. "But if you have a more strategically managed program, it ensures the property to be evergreen. [The strategy is] working well for us right now."
A mirror program launch into Canada is being planned for 2013. "Peppa Pig" will begin airing in March on Canada's Treehouse.
Growth is not slowing for Peppa Pig in the U.K., however. Currently there are 73 licensees for the property. With the property gearing up to celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2014, categories are only diversifying and integrated campaigns are getting underway. According to Dieckman, FMCG is the biggest area of growth, and Peppa will rely on that category to further build brand awareness. Peppa Pig is also growing its live events segment with two stage productions from Astley Baker Davies in production and a theme park in partnership with Paultons Park. A live event strategy is being developed for Australia, set to debut in Q3.
"In the U.K., Peppa Pig is still one of the most consistent, best-selling preschool properties in the market," says Dieckman. "Sell-through is strong across the board, and many retailers are calling it an evergreen already."
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