Animal Planet is one of Discovery’s leading international channel brands, with the second largest distribution, reaching more than 200 million subscribers in over 170 countries.
Its wide audience base certainly makes it ripe for an accompanying merchandising programme, and, indeed, Animal Planet has existed as a private label brand for Toys R Us in the US for over a decade.
Now, Discovery Enterprises is planning a major product roll out internationally – including the UK – lead by the feature plush, toys, back to school, publishing and interactive categories, targeting three to eight year olds.
“We are building Animal Planet as an evergreen brand with ever evolving content that will allow us ownership of the animal category,” Jo Edwards, VP of international licensing at Discovery Enterprises, explains to ToyNews.
This potential ownership begins with the arrival of plush – including nine-inch ‘animotion’ animals with light, sound and movement, plush with a DVD and role play item Power Paws, which allows kids to look and sound like their favourite animal. Giochi Preziosi is distributing the line across Southern Europe, while Character Options is handling the UK. Bonnier Publishing, meanwhile, has signed a global publishing deal.
Other categories to launch this year include non-core toy, homewares and gift, followed in 2011 by books, magazines, back to school, apparel and essentials and interactive.
Initial retail reaction, says Edwards, has been extremely positive, with a number of promotions secured.
“The plush line will launch this month in Argos and will be supported by TV advertising. It will then roll out trade wide to other retailers including Toys R Us – which is dedicating space in Animal Alley with point of sale – Mothercare, Tesco and Asda.”
Discovery is placing a lot of emphasis on the heritage of the Animal Planet channel, and is hoping that will help contribute to its stand out at retail.
“The Animal Planet channel is based on high quality content and is seen as an expert authority on the real world,” Edwards (pictured) continues. “There is an emphasis at present on evergreen brands, both from retailers and consumers, and the Animal Planet line is perfectly positioned to provide an alternative to character and movie properties, while emphasising the fact that knowledge is fun.”
By the end of 2010, Edwards hopes that the brand has created an established home at retail, with the successful launch of the plush line and roll out of other categories.
“In five years time, I would expect to see this line with continued traction at retail, an ever growing licensee base and opportunities launched in the food and beverage, exhibit and attractions spaces to bring the Animal Planet experience to life through multiple touch points,” Edwards concludes.