Adventures in Moominvalley
The classic characters are set to star in a new animated series, called "Moominvalley," in 2019.
With more than 600 licensees around the globe, bringing in annual retail sales of Â€700 million, Moomin is one of the most successful art-based brands in the world.
Inspired by the stories and artwork of acclaimed Finnish artist Tove Jansson, the Moomins are unique characters who inhabit a fantastical world. The brand dates back to 1945, but Moomin stays relevant for modern audiences with a slate of innovative brand extensions and product partnerships.
"The key for us is integrity–with regards to both Tove's original artwork and the spirit of her storytelling," explains Gustav Melin, head of international licensing, Bulls Licensing, which manages the brand worldwide. "We're often asked whether we're tempted to give the brand a revamp, but with this wealth of artwork, the answer to us is obvious... [Tove's] artwork was exceptional, so why use anything else? The same applies to the spirit and values of the stories, which we always remain true to."
That doesn't mean that the Moomin brand hasn't entered the modern age–a recent call-out by YouTube influencer Zoella was viewed over 2 million times, and Moomin's social media channels reach upwards of 20 million people every month.
In April, Moomin Characters and RealityXpander joined forces to launch the mobile game "Moomin Move" as part of Kew Gardens' Moomin-themed Easter Festival in London.
Moomin has had a huge year outside of the digital world as well, particularly in the U.K., where the brand is represented by sub-agent Caroline Mickler. London's Southbank Centre put on an immersive Moomin exhibition; as previously mentioned, Kew Gardens themed their annual Easter Festival around the brand; and Dulwich Picture Gallery is currently hosting the U.K.'s first Tove Jansson retrospective.
June saw the opening of the world's first Moomin Museum in Tampere, Finland, and the brand also launched a new charity partnership with Oxfam.
And all of this is in addition to the brand's robust consumer product program.
"There are some licensees that Moomin has worked with for decades–for example, Arabia/Fiskars, who have made Moomin products since the 1950s," says Melin. "We hugely value these lasting relationships, and work closely with our long-term partners to ensure that we're always innovating and finding fresh ways to approach the original artwork. At the same time, we are continually on the lookout for new and exciting licensees with different takes on the brand. There are some fantastic companies that we have begun to work with in the U.K. in the past year alone, and of course, our publishing partners are very proactive about keeping the stories alive for each new generation."
In 2019, the Moomin brand will raise its profile even further with the launch of a new animated TV series called "Moominvalley."
"This will present a huge opportunity for licensees as a wealth of beautiful new artwork will be created and made available for new product lines," says Melin. "We'd like to work with as many of our licensees as possible during the coming year to help them take advantage of this huge moment for the brand."
And Melin's plans for the brand don't stop there. With a firm presence in Finland and now the U.K., he hopes to bring the Moomins to other international markets on a bigger scale.