Time Team: the growth of Adventure Time

We speak to Cartoon Network vp Johanne Broadfield about next steps for the licensing programme.

Cartoon Network has been nurturing the Adventure Time brand for five years now, taking it from an underground hit to multi-generational mass market brand.

Quirky, unconventional, non-conformist and admittedly quite random at times, but Adventure Time is undoubtedly one of the brands of the moment. Over 51 million fans across EMEA tuned in to watch the show in the third quarter of 2015, the show’s highest ever quarterly reach.

On top of this, a flourishing licensing programme has seen close to 100 partners sign up in the EMEA region. As well as the UK, the last 12 months has seen the launch of licensing and merchandising programmes in Russia, Poland, Hungary and Spain, while Italy and France, Germany and Benelux will kick off this year.

“As soon as I first saw the show I had the sense that we had a hit on our hands,” Johanne Broadfield, vice president, Cartoon Network Enterprises, Turner EMEA, says. “The brand’s quirky sensibility, unique style and expansive storyline quickly caught the eye of viewers.

“Since then, Adventure Time has developed an enthusiastic following amongst kids, teens and adults, it possesses a social currency that has enabled us to form a great and wide ranging roster of brand partnerships that we have to date.”

6 Russia Graffiti wall

Its USP, says Johanne, is simply that it is unlike any other licensed entertainment property.

“It has a coolness and credibility that connects organically with fans. Kids really respond to the iconic style, the imagination and the breadth and depth of the characters.”

Cartoon Network is certainly having fun working with the brand in the licensing space, too. Consumer products traction began in the apparel category, and this remains key for Johanne and her team going forward.

Spanish retailer Desigual will be launching a new line of girls’ apparel globally this spring, while the relationship with Dr Martens will also be expanded with new collections for spring/summer and autumn/winter 2016, following the sell out success of the first two ranges.

3 Bounce Mob

Further growth in the apparel category will also come through working with local partners and retailers on country-specific collections, which will complement what Cartoon Network is doing on a regional and global level. A good example is the partnership with Russian retailer TVOE, which Cartoon Network is working with on seasonal collections for men, women and children. Adventure Time is currently the retailer’s fastest selling fashion licence ever.

While the brand has also been involved in some eye catching marketing activity, 2016 will see Adventure Time move into the live events arena. It will feature in The Cartoon Network Zone at the IMG Worlds of Adventure indoor theme park in Dubai when it opens later this year.

Meanwhile, back with product, Adventure Time stationery will arrive, Titan will be releasing new books and Kidrobot’s line of collectable figures will roll out in Europe.

2 TVOE

“The beauty of Adventure Time is that we’re working with a world of characters and, therefore, a world of potential when it comes to the development of consumer products programmes,” says Johanne.

“The development of a character specific licensing programme beyond Jake and Finn is definitely an opportunity for the brand, but only when the time is right and the brand has reached a certain level of maturity in each individual market.”

Undoubtedly there is still more to come from Adventure Time, in 2016 and beyond, with Cartoon Network looking to build on the strong foundations it has already laid and the fiercely loyal relationships among fans, licensees and retailers.

Johanne continues: “Our aim for 2016 is to reward this loyalty through an unwavering commitment to producing new content, excellent consumer products that are completely on-brand and continued investment in retail and marketing initiatives that are funny, random and unpredictable.”

This feature originally appeared in the Spring 2016 edition of The Licensing Source Book. Click here to read the full publication.

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