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Walker unveils brand partnerships plan for Bear Hunt

Deals already secured with Ready Brek, Whitbread and Premier Inn, with more being eyed up.

Following the news of the tie up with Ready Brek last week, The Source catches up with Julia Posen, evp and commercial director, group rights and development, Walker Books to find out more about how strategic brand partnerships are helping to grow the classic We’re Going on a Bear Hunt brand even further.

Firstly, can we run through the key points of the Ready Brek partnership? Why did you feel it was a good fit with the brand?

We have joined up with Ready Brek in a promotion that sees our popular brand, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt prominently featured on Ready Brek packs this summer. Available in supermarkets nationwide for the next two months, a free We’re Going on a Bear Hunt guide will appear on more than 1.8m packs.

Incorporating artwork from the hit Channel 4 film, the packs introduce fun activity ideas to help children and families create their very own bear hunt, and there are also three different Bear Hunt inspired recipes to collect too. A heavyweight social media campaign will support the promotion reaching up to three million consumers with a media value of £250k.

The classic We’re Going on a Bear Hunt picture book by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury has been a family favourite for over 25 years. Children and parents over the years have loved the interactive nature of the story, joining in with the now iconic sounds, ‘swishy swashy’ and ‘splash splosh’ as they read along. The book was the inspiration behind the animated film that made its debut on C4 in December, attracting eight million viewers and becoming C4’s highest rating programme of 2016. Recreating the story on film – and bringing to life the language of the book in a new way – resonated with young fans of the book, but also presented an opportunity to engage older children and families with the brand too. Something that’s borne out in the ratings, with a 60% share from kids aged 4-9 years old and a strong 27% share of adults 35-54.

As the brand continues to grow on the back of such extraordinary broadcast success, it’s incredibly important to us that we work with partners who reach this wide family audience and who share our brand values. One of our central brand messages for Bear Hunt is encouraging kids to spend time outside as part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle. It’s a celebration of spending time together as a family, with the story giving children a place to start their own adventures at home. Ready Brek, like Bear Hunt, is a trusted family brand with years of equity behind it, a household name with great reach and a focus on healthy lifestyle choices and starting the day ready for anything.

The campaign felt like it suited both brands brilliantly – and bears and porridge are always a perfect fit.

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We understand there are further partnerships in place with Whitbread and Premier Inn – can you talk us through those?

This spring, Whitbread Inn restaurants have been offering a menu activity mat based around We’re Going on a Bear Hunt to all their consumers, and targeting an email database reaching 2 million. Supported by online activity consumers had the opportunity to win prizes including licensed products.

The activity has proved hugely popular achieving strong engagement and high amounts of reactions, comments and shares. The campaign has reached over 1.3m people to date, generating 12,000 comments and 75,000 video views.

In addition, Premier Inn has also come on board with a similar promotion for this summer. They will be offering customers Bear Hunt menu activity mats across 227 of their Thyme restaurants, beginning this month.

Is this the first time that Bear Hunt has been involved with promotions such as these? How do they all benefit the brand?

Our first partnership with Whitbread took place at the end of last year in the run up to the first C4 screening of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. During December 2016 Whitbread Inn restaurants (Beefeater and Table Table), created 122k Bear Hunt themed Christmas bumper packs, with 500 packs distributed across 244 sites. These sites also carried an A3 menu activity sheet, with 1k available at each site. The activity packs and sheets included artwork from the animated film and activities inspired by the story. And in fact it was the success of this December campaign, and its supporting social media activity and high audience engagement, that led to the spring and summer promotions.

In December, our campaign intention was to work with Whitbread to bring new people and existing fans of Bear Hunt on board ahead of the C4 film premier over Christmas. We wanted to support C4, let people know about the new chapter in the Bear Hunt brand story and encourage people to watch it. This spring and summer, we are working with our partners to keep the film – and the brand – front of mind, and find ways to engage consumers with its core qualities and values and encourage them to adopt them into their own lives. The Ready Brek partnership is also a part of this.

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Can you give us an update on the Bear Hunt licensing programme in general? Are there any new licensees on board/new product launching?

We have seen some stunning film tie-in product roll out around tx and throughout the spring. Aurora’s plush line, games from Paul Lamond, apparel from Paul Dennicci, the DVD from Universal and two beautiful new books aimed at the older 6+ audience from Walker.

Following the success of this product, we are delighted that our licensees are already developing new lines for launch in Q4. Cooneen will also launch its first range of nightwear in autumn/winter 17, with Portico Designs introducing its first product to retail this summer. We are also in conversation with a raft of new licensees with a view to launching new product through 2018 and beyond.

What’s the overall strategy for the brand heading towards the end of 2017 and into 2018?

We want to keep building on the extraordinary level of engagement this award-winning brand has with our consumer audience. Bear Hunt captures elements of all four seasons, giving us strong year-round brand licensing opportunity, and we are working with our licensees and retail partners on developing more beautiful product lines and getting them in store.

We want to continue to build ranges for our preschool market, the original heartland for this brand, while making sure we are developing exciting lines for the 6+ and family market that responded so positively to the film. Over 100,000 drawings were created for the animation, 288 of which were hand painted. That gives us a unique collection of beautiful hand-drawn assets to produce products for the older child and family audience, and for the paper based and gifting categories appreciated by adults, too.

We are working on several exciting new brand partnerships, looking at different ways we can engage our audience with the core values at the heart of the Bear Hunt brand.

On the back of the UK broadcast success, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt made its US debut on Amazon Prime earlier this year, so we are also turning our attention to the US market as a licensing focus for us in 2018.

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