We chat to Andrew Kerr and Stephen Gould about their ambitions for the new Andrew Davenport brand.
You certainly need to be on your toes when interviewing Andrew Kerr and Stephen Gould – they both seem to talk at a million miles an hour and you’ll be lucky to get a word in edgeways. But then, they have a lot to be excited about. Sutikki, the new venture set up by Andrew with his former Nelvana colleague Irene Weibel (see separate box out below), has landed the primetime of preschool properties with Andrew Davenport’s latest, Moon and Me.
“It is going to be genuinely and completely remarkable,” enthuses Andrew. “Wholly original and yet comfortably engaging, Moon and Me is an evolution of the kind of storytelling to a young audience that I genuinely believe only Andy is capable of delivering to a global audience of preschoolers.”
It seems this excitement is shared across the business, too. Hasbro has been named as global master toy partner, while Stephen – who joined as Sutikki’s UK and EMEA territory head earlier this year – has been busy building up the licensee portfolio. There are 18 licensees on board in addition to Hasbro, although names and categories are being kept under wraps for the time being.
“Quite frankly, we have had a phenomenal response from the licensing trade at large,” Stephen says. “The brand is wholesome and organic and offers a ‘familiar unfamiliarity’ in content. Without exception, all solicited – and indeed unsolicited – interest is palpable with excitement and visionary opportunity.”
Andrew Davenport’s CV includes big hits such as Teletubbies and In the Night Garden.
While exact details about the content, look and feel of Moon and Me (which will air on CBeebies in early 2018) are being closely guarded for now, it goes without saying that Andrew Davenport’s previous success in the preschool sector – his CV includes both Teletubbies and In the Night Garden from his time at Ragdoll – is a big plus point in its favour.
“I think we’re blessed with the pedigree and equity that Andy and the BBC have in combination in the UK market especially,” Andrew continues. “That has proven to be a tremendous advantage in providing comfort to UK partners, as well as global partners like Hasbro.
“I think Andy has a very rare dual skill. He understands how to tell stories to young children in a way that is entirely unique to him – his stories are simple and elegant and resonate with his chosen audience. Alongside this is Andy’s ability to engage the parents of his audience.”
There are clear aims for where Andrew would like to see Moon and Me this year. “I’ll be very happy to have it bedded in with the best of the best of the UK licensing community, and Stephen is well on his way to doing that. I also feel like we’ll have a who’s who of global and pan regional partners for the brand on board, as well as preferred broadcast platforms in North America and throughout Europe.”
Above and beyond Andy’s brands, there are also plans for “multiple announcements” on other properties in the Sutikki roster, says Andrew.
Indeed, by the end of 2017 he would like to have at least two to three other brands in the slate, each allied with key consumer products partners to begin.
“It’s a big year for Irene, Stephen and I, and our partners at Bento Box, and we’re incredibly excited about what lies ahead,” he concludes.
Sutikki and Bento Box: Need to Know
Officially unveiled in October 2016, Sutikki is the new kids and family division of Bento Box – the company behind young adult animations such as Bob’s Burgers and Legends of Chamberlain Heights.
It was formed by Andrew Kerr and his former Nelvana colleague Irene Weibel – both of whom have strong track records in the kids’ content and licensing businesses. The aim was to focus on creating a small slate of brands that tell great stories, are relevant to kids and commercial partners and, ultimately, deliver healthy consumer products programmes.
“Irene and I left Nelvana separately in spring 2016 and came up with the notion and mission statement for Sutikki,” explains Andrew. “We were approached by a number of potential backers and ultimately decided on Bento Box. They are a great fit – entrepreneurial, talent-focused and growth-focused. We are also additive to their already successful core business of millennial/prime time animation.”
Stephen Gould was confirmed as Sutikki’s new territory head for the UK and EMEA in March, with an initial focus on the much-anticipated Moon and Me from Andrew Davenport’s Foundling Bird. “To be able to engage the licensing marketplace with a first brand like Moon and Me is both an honour and a privilege,” says Stephen. “I very much look forward to realising the ambitions of all the partners and stakeholders, not only with Moon and Moon, but also a growing portfolio of IP moving forward.”
There are several other brands already in the Sutikki locker, with announcements expected shortly.