As the last days of summer dwindle while kids who moan and groan about it in their classrooms, grownups who were once in the same predicament shift gears. It is during this time of year – for at least for the past fifteen years – parents along with millions of other adults are starting to switch their consumer interests. They are transitioning from purchasing school supplies to figuring out what to purchase during the holiday season for the children in their lives; whether it is for a direct family member or to contribute to charity.
One such company looking to cash in early and often during the final weeks of the fiscal fourth quarter –as are countless others – is Viacom. The company is looking to do so via merchandise based on the popular shows featured on its Nickelodeon brand of programming. In order to achieve this Viacom launched a two-day event (September 11th and 12th) opened exclusively to the press just to show off their new wares for the upcoming gift giving season. Merchandising executives and employees at the programming giant are hoping that the likes of “Sponge Bob SquarePants”, “Dora the Explorer” and the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” will keep the company in the black and then some by the close of the calendar year. From the look and sound of things at the annual “Nickelodeon Holiday Extravaganza” all who work at 1515 Broadway are very confident about how things will evolve.
“For boys ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ is our biggest brand right now”, declared John Roman Nickelodeon’s newly minted vice president of consumer products. “It got the highest market share of the boys market. The show is almost running every day now and a new season starts in October. Season one just ended with a double episode which was the highest rated episode ever!”
“The new season will stretch well into October 2014” according to Roman -- who observes all when it comes to boys’ toys. This will coincide with the Paramount Pictures effort to reboot the film aspect of the “TMNT” franchise to be produced by Michael Bay and directed by Jonathan Liebesman. The film has been tentatively slated for release during the summer of 2014 to compete with other potential blockbusters for the season.
There a few items related to the brand that Nickelodeon is focusing on through their partnership with Playmates Toys. Two such big ticket objects are the “Secret Sewer Lair” playset and the “Ninja Contol Shellraiser”. The playset stands at forty-two inches in height and resembles the very “Sewer Lair” from the show complete with lines that can be connected to a child’s room. The retail price of this item is set at $110.00. The “Shellraiser” not only designed to combat the “Kraag” but it is now remote-control operated with full-steering. The starting retail price for the “Shellraiser” is $50.00.
However, John shared some very telling reasons for the success of the “TMNT” brand while being sheltered under the Viacom umbrella. He revealed that the “Heroes in a Half Shell” have a crossover appeal with thirty percent of the viewing audience being girls. The other thing which has lead to the pizza eating crime fighters’ staying power is something that fan-boys hold dearly. “A trend that started last year with Turtles is that we now have this huge 18-49 demographic for adults. It’s nostalgia for everyone who grew up with ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’. If you watch the episodes it’s going to be like a time machine. They did a lot of call backs to the old guys. So the biggest change with Turtles is that it established this older demographic”, Roman shared. So collectors can be on the lookout for the classic toy line to sport “Bebop”, “Rocksteady” and “Casey Jones” to coincide with the reintroduction of the “Dimension X” storyline.
With regard to all things girl related “Dora the Explorer” merchandise is expected do as well as “TMNT”. This brand like all others in the Nickelodeon family has a myriad of interactive games, apps, electronics and toys that tie into show storylines as well. These include “Skate & Spin Dora & Boots”, the “Sizzling Surprises Dora Kitchen” and the “KidKraft Dora Dollhouse” just to name a few things that could be added to a potential gift list.
But not all of Nickelodeon’s curriculum based products are geared solely towards boys or girls. Many of them are gender neutral like the goods based on the popular “Bubble Guppies” and the aforementioned “SpongeBob”. The latter brand is entering its fourteen year with the company and is looking introduce products to fans who have grown along with it. Nickelodeon hopes to capitalize on this by offering the new “SpongeBob SquarePants Experience” book for collectors. “This is a great piece for the ‘Sponge Bob’ lover that started with him fourteen years ago and still has affinity for the brand”, Director of Digital Corporate Communications Tori Fernandes divulged. “Which is cool because one third of ‘Sponge Bob’s’ audience is 18 plus. So they stayed with the property all these years. This was kind of a nod to our fans and to celebrating the life of ‘Sponge Bob’.”
When it came to the subject of the entire catalog offered by Nickelodeon and what age groups drove the sales for certain properties Fernandes offered the following explanation “We call it the ‘Star Wars’ effect. The little kids you see walking around with the ‘Darth Vader’ t-shirt. You kind of influence what your kids are watching. Every property is represented. We just try to offer a mix of items for everyone.”