How Jazwares is taking over retail with Squishmallows

The Squishmallows brand is on a roll – one of the fastest growing properties on NPD in the UK, from a launch line-up of eight characters in 2017, the range is now 1,000+ strong and includes celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian among its many fans. And now the aim is a full-scale lifestyle CP programme, as discovers.

“Squishmallows is a true phenomenon; we have something really special with this brand and our aim is to cultivate it for long-term success,” begins Sam Ferguson, vp global licensing at Jazwares.

The brand – which was launched in 2017 by Kellytoy – began with eight characters, and now features more than 1,000, each with a unique name and bio. There are over 12 sizes, ranging from two to 24 inches. Jazwares acquired a majority stake in Kellytoy in 2020, and since then the brand has continued to grow exponentially with a full range of plush, branded entertainment, consumer products and metaverse gaming with Squishmallows on Roblox.

It is currently the number one traditional plush manufacturer according to NPD in the US and one of the fastest growing brands on NPD in the UK.

There are over 180 Squishmallows hitting the UK market this year, Sam explains: “Huge demand has also resulted in multiple fan-inspired and trend-led line extensions, including Flip-A-Mallows, Fuzz-A-Mallows and Squishville by Original Squishmallows. We are very excited about launching licensed brand collaborations in the UK which will see well-known characters transformed into collections of Squishmallows.”

The global consumer products programme kicked off last year in the US, and an extensive UK programme will debut shortly with licensees due to be revealed across multiple categories including bath and beauty, swimwear, apparel and bedding.

Social media has played a huge part in the success of the brand. Sam continues: “Fan engagement and the viral nature of the content our fans create are key. The organic reach of celebrity fan posts from Charli D’Amelio, Lady Gaga and Kim and Khloe Kardashian is incredible but more important, are the 6B+ organic social mentions from the wider Squishmallows community. The Squishmallows social media channels have ballooned to more than 827,000 followers and nearly 100 global and local Facebook groups have been created by fans. Our fans are incredibly important to the development of the brand.

“We have a huge social following and highly engaged community to support our new consumer products ranges. Licensed products will be organically integrated into campaigns and messaging, ensuring that our content always remains authentic to the brand’s DNA.”

In addition, Jazwares has joined forces with CAA to fully take advantage of the momentum behind the brand, with the agency focusing on pushing the brand beyond a toy hunt and delving more into the storytelling around Squishmallows characters through film, TV, gaming, publishing, live touring and beyond.

This year also marks the first time that Jazwares will be showing at both Licensing Expo and Brand Licensing Europe with a dedicated Squishmallows booth. The company will be aiming to introduce outside categories to the Squishmallows ‘lifestyle’.

The ultimate aim, says Sam, is for Squishmallows “to be an established lifestyle brand across all of its touchpoints”. He concludes: “The vision is for all the various brand verticals from licensed products, to gaming and content to reach the heights of the success of the plush in the toy aisle, in a sustainable way.”

This feature originally appeared in the summer 2022 edition of Licensing Source Book. To read the full publication, click on this link.

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