We chat to Mattel’s licensing manager Helen Genia about the brand’s milestone anniversary.
This year, Fireman Sam will be celebrating 30 years of the brand. Stories of Fireman Sam and his community, first aired in 1987, have continued to evolve ever since, entertaining and teaching key life lessons to children across the world on issues such as action, adventure bravery, and safety. The show is now on its tenth series and being aired worldwide in 25 different languages, with two movies and a BAFTA nomination for best short film under its belt.
We caught up with Helen Genia, licensing manager at Mattel, to find out more.
Why do you think the property has endured for so long – what’s the secret to its success and who does it appeal to now?
As well as becoming a well-loved children’s character and ‘hero next door’, the brand has grown over the years expanding its character base to include 39 characters and covering a multitude of new themes, vehicles and storylines. Innovation within the content through the introduction of exciting new vehicles and contemporary storylines keep the content fresh and relatable to a changing audience while building on the brand DNA of Action, Adventure, Bravery and Safety.
Has the audience for the property evolved over the years?
The world of preschool brands is constantly changing, so it is important that Fireman Sam is still true to its heritage and core values of action, adventure, bravery and safety, while reflecting modern day concepts.
The recent introduction of Hannah Sparkes, the only character in PontyPandy who uses a wheelchair, as well as the introduction of the new high tech Fire Station in 2015 provide the audience with exciting content that is relatable and modern, ensuring the content is moving with the modern day consumer.
Many of Fireman Sam’s original audience now have children of their own and will remember the fun storylines and silly humour which preschoolers still love, while addressing contemporary narratives.
Expanding content, Fireman Sam has two short films to its name with another exciting release – Fireman Sam: Alien Alert launching in 2017. Building on the Alien theme, former Dr Who actor David Tennant brings a new character to life further expanding the brand’s modern approach to engaging preschoolers and parents.
What plans have you got for the anniversary year – special artwork, new product, new partnerships, promotions, retail partnerships?
Marking a year of celebration and an extraordinary 30 years of the brand, Fireman Sam and his team will be celebrating this special event throughout the year with various activations. Kicking off the festivities, the brand will be on the hunt for real life heroes to celebrate the core values that are true to the brand.
2017 will also see the brand build on key partnerships with Child Safety Week and also continue to drive its safety awareness programme ahead of Bonfire Night partnering with the UK Fire and Rescue Services to support and spread the key messages.
Keeping the momentum going, the new movie release Fireman Sam Alien Alert will be released later in the year with exciting activations to creatively support the launch of the movie and DVD ahead of launch.
2017 will also see the expansion of the Fireman Sam consumer products with exciting cross category licensing partners on board including the launch of a range of toys rolling out throughout the year, creating an experience for preschoolers as they interact with Sam’s world above and beyond the on-screen content.
Why do you think it’s important to mark key milestones in a property’s development?
The 30th anniversary will create a moment in time to celebrate Fireman Sam, the success of the brand and also the exciting year ahead. Reaching out to millennial parents who remember the brand from their childhood will allow us to build on the nostalgia, while reaching out to a new audience with innovative content, brand activity and product pushing the brand forward to a modern audience.