eOne & Tomy
Welcome to Wheelford The global launch of Ricky Zoom, Entertainment One’s latest pre-school animated property, is gaining momentum. Based in Wheelford, a town populated exclusively by friendly bikes, the show lends itself perfectly to master toy partner Tomy’s upcoming range of figures and play sets. Rachael Simpson-Jones sat down with Katie Rollings, SVP UK licensing, eOne, and Mary Wood, UK general manager, Tomy, to find out more. Katie Rollings
When does Ricky Zoom start to air, and what channels will the show be broadcast on? Katie: The show launched on Youku in China at the end of June this year and reached 200m views in just five weeks, which is really promising for the wider, global roll out which continues from September. Our confirmed partners include Nickelodeon in the USA, Clan TV in Spain, Gulli in France, RAI in Italy, Discovery Kids in Latin America and Super RTL in Germany, the best Free to Air platforms we could possibly ask for, with more to come.
What digital marketing support is in place for Ricky Zoom? Katie: We’ll start with the launch of an official YouTube channel, where original content such as episode compilations, sizzles or character introductions will be uploaded every week. We will use the existing and extensive audience we’ve built through our other global channels to strengthen the visibility of this new brand, and original ancillary content will provide support and drive the sales of the toy range when it launches. In addition, we’ve launched our first app, Ricky Zoom: Welcome to
Wheelford, which offers children a new way to meet and engage with the characters and discover the world of Ricky Zoom. We are also developing a suite of five games for broadcast and retail use. All these efforts will be aligned with our wider digital strategy, which also includes a website targeted at adults and spans all our social media platforms. While traditional broadcast platforms are vital, you have to supplement them with a robust digital offering. Many kids who are watching TV will be on a tablet at the same time, so it’s important to give them the opportunity to dive deeper into the world we’ve created using a mixture of platforms.
What challenges have you both identified in launching a) a new preschool property, and b) the toy range to support it? Katie: The overall market, and character licensing, is particularly tough right now, but we nurture our brands in an effort to ensure their longevity - and that means not rushing to market with too much too early, trying to manage licensee and retail expectations and sometimes saying no. Consumers are always looking for something new, and they are consuming content at a faster rate; our job is simply
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to keep them consuming eOne brands for longer. Dialogue with retailers is vital and so is acting upon feedback. A major plus for eOne was that Tomy came on board for Ricky Zoom early on, and together, we’ve been able to ensure that contingencies are in place. We’ve been very open with Tomy on the lessons learned from Peppa and PJ Masks, and it has always been our intention to live and breathe the process with a strong partner on board from the outset. Mary: To build a brand, it is important to not flood the market at launch, which means the initial Ricky Zoom range will be tight – just six key SKUs. However, we appreciate the need for retailers to differentiate their ranges, so we are also creating a number of items to be used as exclusives. The autumn/winter 2020 line is well progressed and we’re making inroads into our 2021 line as well. We have a lot to contend with in the UK at the moment, including fluctuating exchange rates, which may impact which lines we’ll introduce and when, but we have plans in place for all eventualities. Katie: As there are no humans in Ricky Zoom – the bikes are the people - it’s taken some serious design work to ensure they are self-sufficient in how they