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‘We are building Beat Bugs as a long-term brand’

Centa IP’s Nick Cooke on why the Netflix preschool brand is such a compelling proposition.

Firstly, can you give us some background to the Beat Bugs brand?

As a child, Beat Bugs creator, Josh Wakely, says he used to turn on The Beatles music and wonder about what the stories and characters were behind the lyrics. Like, what would it be like to live in a yellow submarine? And where are those strawberry fields?

As an adult, he thought, “How can I introduce the music that I loved so much as a child to the next generation?” In going after The Beatles library, Josh has referred to himself as naive, but anyone who knows him would choose words like tenacious and determined instead. He went after one of the most coveted music libraries on the market with creativity and passion, and he never gave up.

It took him (via his production company Grace: A Storytelling Company) three years to get the rights. And today, we have Beat Bugs, and I believe it to be one of the most beautifully animated preschool shows on the market today. Not only that, but this Emmy Award-winning series is written with heart and with strong characters that everyone can relate to. Oh and the music! Top notch production values with huge mega-musician guest stars. This show is a major feat to pull off – seasons one and two include 53 beloved songs.

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What is the current situation regarding licensing and consumer products? Are any licensees on board? If so, in which categories?

There are a number of all-star licensees onboard already in Europe; our master toys are being distributed in the UK by Golden Bear and we have publishing from HarperCollins and Igloo books. Other notable licensees include Sakar, Stor and Leomil with a number of other licensees being finalised now.

Which categories are your key initial targets?

We will launch this autumn 2017 with toys, apparel, books, DVDs and a CD.

We understand that Tesco will be launching products in the UK later this year – how did this deal come about and what does it involve?

Tesco will be launching Beat Bugs this autumn with product in stores starting in September/October. We feel that Tesco is a great fit for our family-focused customer base. We have really enjoyed working with them in the planning stages, and are really looking forward to seeing product on shelf and selling very soon.

How will you be looking to grow the brand further at UK retail?

In autumn 2018, we will see the property move onto free TV that will give us an even wider audience for the brand. All the while, we hope to be able to extend the line of merchandise with new and exciting products.

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Can you tell us more about the partnership with My Gym?

The Beat Bugs/My Gym marketing alliance was a tremendous success running in the summer. My Gyms throughout North America, the UK and Australia integrated Beat Bugs music, colouring sheets and other class elements like DIY headbands/hats and more. We got an enormous amount of positive customer perspective, with the gyms experiencing great organic feedback from both mums and kids! They truly embraced it. We hope to be able to work with My Gym again in the future and definitely look to do more ‘in person’ partnerships as we think these activations are extremely beneficial to the brand as it continues to grow.

Are you also looking at other marketing avenues?

Absolutely, we are just getting started. We are trying to introduce a whole new generation to the music made famous by the Beatles; reimagined by the Beat Bugs. Josh hopes that he can inspire others as he was inspired as a kid.

We are building Beat Bugs as a long-term brand. We have consumer products rolling out in Australia in November this year, with Canada in spring 2018. Soon thereafter, we hope other territories will also join the fun.

Are there any plans to also air the show on traditional TV channels?

Yes for sure. Starting in autumn 2018, we have plans for a wide release on traditional TV. Currently, in Australia it is a top-rated show on Nick Jr.

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In such a competitive space, how do you think the Beat Bugs brand stands out? What does it have that other preschool brands don’t have?

The Beat Bugs animation is stunning, with truly original characters and compelling storytelling. To have a successful entertainment consumer products property, this is where it all starts. The very heart of Beat Bugs is the music made famous by The Beatles. No one has ever had this in children’s entertainment. Thanks to Josh, we are so lucky to have such revolutionary partnerships that allow us to bring this magic to the youngest generation.

Music is a key part of any preschool property, so to have music by some of the greatest composers of our time is huge. The music has been has been popular with every generation for over 50 years, and parents and grandparents are reporting to us daily on social media, just how much it means to them to be able to introduce this to their children and grandchildren. All of this really sets it apart from the competition.

What would you most like to achieve with the brand by the end of 2017?

For the UK, our focus is working with Tesco and our existing licensees to deliver a successful launch for all involved. We will then look forward to 2018 with additional partners and new opportunities.

What is your long-term vision for Beat Bugs?

Josh is a real planner, and thinks ahead, so we’ve got eight years of content planned for Beat Bugs. We look to support that with a world-class marketing and consumer products programmes. The music that the show is based on has stood the test of time for 50+ years. There is no reason why Beat Bugs cannot do the same.

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