Marianne James, vice president, consumer products UK and Ireland and European retail sales and marketing at Nickelodeon Viacom Consumer Products, tells Billy Langsworthy about its biggest BLE yet and why the firm’s future in the toy space is looking bright.

Nickelodeon’s Marianne James on the demand for Paw Patrol toys, Blaze’s potential and the power of the Turtles

How has the last 12 months been for Nickelodeon in the toy space?

2015 has been a fantastic year. Our roster of properties has benefited from blockbuster theatrical movie releases, strong Nickelodeon network ratings, presence on Channel 5 and innovative retailer promotions.
Evergreen properties have grown steadily with new lines and new licence deals, while new properties have proven successful on air as well as on shelves.

2015 has also seen the opening on the flagship Nickelodeon Store in Leicester Square which is a huge opportunity for our properties and toy partners.

What have been your best performing properties?

Turtle Power has continued in the toy aisles with the launch of the Mutations range from Flair as well as the expansion of the younger-skewed Half-Shell Heroes.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are icons and are popular across different ages and the announcement of the new movie, upcoming series guest stars and new retro lines with retailers such as Forbidden Planet has kept the momentum of the property going.

SpongeBob SquarePants has seen his profile grow following the release of the movie this summer, a new deal signed with Sambro along with some exciting fashion collaborations.

SpongeBob is also a pop-culture icon and fashion collaborations of the last couple of years seems to have sparked the imaginations of our toy partners and reignited the interest in consumers.

Paw Patrol has been phenomenal both in stores as well as on air.

It’s a property based on puppies and vehicle play so lends itself well across a wide range of play patterns and product lines. Spin Master has done an incredible job with the toy line and we’ve built upon the success of the toy range with an innovative range in other category lines.

Have any brands proved surprising this year?

We knew Paw Patrol would be successful but we didn’t fully appreciate the demand for products upon launch.

We had parents emailing the channel asking where they could buy product with lines selling out when they arrived on the shelves.

We’ve learned a lot from that experience and will be taking those learnings into how we work with pre-school properties in the future.

The other surprise has been SpongeBob. He’s always been steady in the toy space but this year his cool cred has skyrocketed with fashion partnerships with Beatrix Ong and Hype. The Sponge can’t be stopped.

What is looking like being big for you in 2016?

Pre-school continues to be a focus so Dora and Friends will continue to grow, as will Paw Patrol.

Those key properties will be joined by new titles: Blaze and the Monster Machines, which launched on Nick Jr. in March where it has performed incredibly well and will be coming to Milkshake! this autumn, and Shimmer and Shine, premiering on Nick Jr. this November featuring two adorable and funny genies, will be perfect for toys as well as apparel and role play lines.

Also, we have the UK licence for the beautiful Lily’s Driftwood Bay, a UK commission airing on Nick Jr. and Milkshake! as well as Digby Dragon, another UK production set to premiere on Nick Jr. next year.

The entire roster of Nick Jr. properties has never been stronger and we are excited to see category partners make the most of the different styles and opportunities of each brand.

What should BLE visitors expect to see from you guys this year?

We have got more this year than ever before. We are keen to show off our core properties and the innovative ways they are growing across categories and with audiences.

There are some really cool partnerships that we’ll be announcing as well as innovative lines.

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