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‘BLE provides a focal point for the industry’

We chat to Metrostar’s md Claire Potter about the company’s preschool plans at the show.

Firstly, which preschool brands will you be showcasing at BLE?

Metrostar will be showcasing brands from two distinct sectors at BLE; classic picture books and preschool entertainment. The stars of our show will be David McKee’s best-selling book character Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, the very exciting Milkshake series, Toby’s Travelling Circus and two leading CBeebies shows, Boj and Wussywat the Clumsy Cat – which has recently become the number one show on CBeebies.

Can you run through how the licensing programmes for each are shaping up?

It’s extremely exciting. We’re just about to announce several new apparel licences for Elmer and a link up with a major retailer. We are deep in discussions with toy companies about Toby’s Travelling Circus. Channel 5 have just announced their commission of his second series and producers, Komixx are creating a very exciting and compelling marketing plan to bring Toby into the live space, which includes circus skills training and new digital content.

The Boj visitor attraction launches at West Midlands Safari Park in spring 2017 in time to celebrate the arrival of the first bilby (the Australian animal on which Boj is based) at the park. Licensees such as Paul Lamond, Sega, Redan and Misirli will be supplying their products to the Boj shop, as well as into retail. Wussywat is our newest property and his CBeebies chart-topping position is generating a lot of interest. Plush, publishing and apparel will be big focuses at BLE.


Will there be any new launches or sneak peaks of upcoming brands?

We are bringing Wussywat and Elmer to BLE for the very first time and we’re also bringing a couple of other new properties. When the ink is dry, we’ll be happy to share!

Have you seen any major trends emerging over the course of 2016 in the preschool space? As a brand owner, how have you been able to react to those?

More and more retailers are interested in evergreen publishing-led brands and if the styling is strong and fresh, they’re happy to support them. Our client, Andersen Press, has invested in beautiful assets for Elmer and their efforts have been rewarded by excellent interest from retailers.

In preschool entertainment, we’re learning that a great production, compelling characters and excellent audience data is, for the most part, no longer sufficient to interest toy companies. They are looking for significant off-screen marketing, high levels of broadcast frequency and downloads as further proof of audience engagement. Since large-scale licensing success depends upon toy success for this sector, we’re working with our clients to develop the platforms they require. This is reflected in the excellent off-screen activities planned for Toby’s Travelling Circus and Boj.

How important is BLE for you when it comes to showing your preschool brands?

It’s vital. It provides a focal point for the industry and a platform for us. It’s a unique opportunity to deliver important messages to decision-makers in licensing. Many of those will be licensees, but retail is very important too.


What messages will you be looking to convey to licensees and potential licensees at the show?

In AW17, when his second series launches, Toby’s Travelling Circus is going to have one of the most impressive broadcast platforms in pre-school. We want licensees and retailers to be ready to respond to that.
We want to extend our success in apparel with Elmer into bedding and other product areas. He is one of the few book properties which works well for both boys and girls – so he offers licensees and retailers that little bit more.

The opening of Boj World at West Midlands Safari Park means 2017 is going to be a big year for Boj and we’re looking to add retail plush, apparel and publishing to his licensing portfolio.

Take a look at Wussywat. It’s not easy to become the leading show on CBeebies and this clumsy little cat has great licensing potential. We’re looking forward to his first BLE show.

Finally, we’re always delighted by interest from licensees and retailers we’ve never encountered. We have a tradition of landing ‘left field’ deals from chance meetings at BLE and it’s one we very much enjoy and so please do come and see us!

What would you most like to achieve for your preschool brands from this year’s show?

Our properties are ready for consumer products so in most cases, we’re looking to make deals. But we’re also looking for insights which can help us and our clients adjust our strategy to achieve even better results.

Parts of this interview were used in a special feature on Brand Licensing Europe in the latest edition of Progressive Preschool. Simply click on this link to read the full magazine.

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