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‘Our preschool line-up will excite the industry’

BBC Worldwide’s licensing director Rikesh Desai talks preschool brand plans for BLE.

Which preschool brands will you be showcasing at BLE?

Rikesh Desai, licensing director for merchandise and gaming: At BBC Worldwide we’re fortunate to have a strong portfolio of diverse preschool brands which provide a complete offering across all genders and age demographics.

For BLE 2016, we’re returning with our preschool friends including loveable huggable Duggee, and the dynamic Go Jetters. Established and popular preschool brands Sarah & Duck and Something Special under the Mr. Tumble banner will also be represented. Hey Duggee offers children the opportunity to explore the world around them and learn to problem solve through everyday experiences with the Squirrels as they go on adventures and learn from their trusted mentor, Duggee. Since launch the brand has been captivating fans of all ages, making it the 3rd most popular preschool brand on facebook.

Go Jetters follows four heroes – Xuli, Kyan, Lars and Foz – on a geographic joyride, travelling the world with their teacher, mentor, friend Ubercorn (a funky disco loving unicorn) to rescue famous landmarks that have been glitched by Grandmaster Glitch and his faithful Grimbots. Demand on iPlayer for Go Jetters has been phenomenal and it ranks as the most requested preschool brand across all CBeebies properties for the first six months of 2016.

The BAFTA award winning Sarah & Duck is a beautifully created animation based on a seven year old girl (Sarah) and her slightly manic, but endearing best friend (Duck). Sarah and Duck embark on simple but exciting adventures, exploring the world both near and far in their own imaginative way. The show continually exceeds the CBeebies slot average month on month, highlighting why a third series is now in production.

Mr Tumble and the show Something Special have been entertaining preschoolers for over 13 years, consistently ranking within the top five shows in its timeslot, with its unique and exciting live action premise of introducing children with delayed learning and communication difficulties to Makaton.


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

Each of our preschool brands offer an opportunity for partners to develop compelling and exciting products. For the more established brands, such as Mr Tumble and Sarah & Duck we are now looking at a new take on our well-loved properties through new brand partnerships that challenge our traditional way of thinking about these brands. For our newer pre-school brands such as Go Jetters and Hey Duggee, the focus is more towards strengthening our retail footprint and so the priority is identifying and working with partners that have a track record of delivering quality and are passionate about the brands themselves.

With such a strong preschool slate, there is a huge growth opportunity for our licensing programme and this has been the primary focus for the division with a number of new, best in class licensees being signed over the last 12 months.

Have you seen any major trends emerging over the course of 2016 in the preschool space?

Something that we’ve witnessed is how brands that have traditionally played safe to their key demographic, are now launching ranges into different categories; targeting younger or older age groups as well as exploring products for different genders. This year brands that would typically target the 12 plus age range have launched preschool products, which raises the question around true brand stretch and pure brand exploitation.


As a brand owner, how have you been able to react to those?

We’re fortunate that the CBeebies Channel platform, which weekly reaches over 45% of the UK population aged 0-6, offers a unique opportunity to drive awareness and provide the optimum platform for licensing programme to be built from. Particularly important when building a licensing portfolio for a new show.

Furthermore, with BBC comes the level of trust for parents of preschoolers and our partners that the brand and content have the right balance between entertaining and educating.

BBC Worldwide has an excellent track record in nurturing brands and creating products with a relevant and accessible brand narrative that fans of the shows love. We are able to do this by collaborating with partners that can extend the brand experience beyond content, partners who we identify by exhibiting at shows like BLE.


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

Over the years BLE has become bigger and more important for our business. It’s the one event that allows us to build key relationships, showcase our brands and talk to our partners and retailers. Every year new licensees and retailers are searching for preschool properties that can help expand their business and reach new audiences and we believe that BLE gives us the perfect platform to showcase our portfolio of growing new and established global brands.

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

We would like to see licensees from all categories, from those that are more traditional to those that allow us to stretch and be more creative with our brands, we’re really looking forward to welcoming visitors onto the stand to hear how we can collaborate.

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

To close the show knowing that both existing and potential new licensees fully understand each of our brands narrative, are clear on our vision and see how they can support us enhance the brand experience for fans. Most importantly we get the licensing community as excited about our preschool line-up as we are. It’s a truly impressive slate of world class IP.

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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