Year of the dog

Well, really you could say that every one of the past 39 years has been the year of the dog and Scooby-Doo's popularity is showing no signs of waning any time soon. Samantha Loveday takes a look at the past present and future of Warner Bros' Great Dane.
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IT'S A VERY rare property which can command universal appeal and awareness across all demographics.

However, Scooby-Doo is one such brand.

Having notched up a staggering 39 years on air, Scooby-Doo continues to rate highly, and, interestingly it continues to attract new fans, as well as keeping those fans who grew up with the Great Dane on board; something which is the holy grail for any brand which wants to achieve evergreen status, but something not many manage to reach.

Over the years, Scooby-Doo has enjoyed a consistently strong broadcast platform, both on terrestrial and satellite channels (GMTV, BBC, CN Too and Boomerang), making the show a cornerstone of many programming schedules. Just to give ToyNews readers an idea of the sheer amount of Scooby-Doo programming on air: over 4,000 episodes of the Scooby-Doo shows have aired between January and June this year in multi-channel homes.

Warner Bros Consumer Products isn't planning on resting on its laurels either; the brand may be an evergreen, but that doesn't mean the licensing activity will be coming to an end any time soon.

A raft of DVD releases are planned for 2009 - already this year volumes one, two and three of Shaggy & Scooby Get A Clue are scheduled to roll out (one and two are already available), along with Scooby-Doo & the Shadow Goblin in October. Notably, Scooby-Doo was the biggest selling non-theatrical kids franchise on DVD in 2007.

Another live stage show - Scooby-Doo and the Pirate Ghost (see separate box out) - plus a move into the video games sector, are also on the cards for 2009.

WBCP will continue to support the brand heavily at retail level - and not just at Halloween, but throughout the entire year. In-store cross-promotional activity is planned in the fourth quarter of this year, as well as throughout 2009, for example.

And then there's the toy line. Master toy licensee Character Options has enjoyed phenomenal success with the property. For example, following the success of the Stretch Scooby in 2006, the 2007 range was extended by over 50 per cent including such products as Scooby Doodle Doo, Mystery Mansion Electronic Play-set and The Ultimate Baddie Pack. Character's current portfolio includes Scooby Hide n Seek and the new Scooby Snack Action Game to name just a few items, and will be heavily supported by TV advertising during the fourth quarter. It is looking to continue to grow the brand within the toy sector with further range extensions in 2009, too.

Back at Warner, the firm has recently undertaken extensive research to explore Scooby's brand DNA and identify how to reassert this for today's consumer and drive new distinctiveness for the brand. In essence it's the thrill of seeing Scooby being scared and chased by the monster that enthrals kids. This, in turn, is made sage by silly things happening to make it light-hearted and funny. The 'reveal' is a hugely important element to the show. Kids see that there is a happy conclusion with nothing to fear when they discover the monster isn't real.

The results of the research and the proposition - Scooby-Doo Makes Scary Fun - will underpin the brand strategy moving forward.

Scooby-Doo is certainly the embodiment of the phrase 'every dog has its day'. It's just that this dog has been lucky enough to experience this for nigh on 40 years.

SCOOBY-DOO ON STAGE

The original show, Scooby-Doo Live on Stage, toured the UK in 2005 and in 2007. It visited 29 cities over 30 weeks and was attended by 300,000+ punters.

WBCP and AEG ThemeStar will be hoping that next year's production - Scooby-Doo and the Pirate Ghost - will be just as successful, if not more so. Launching on February 16th in Norwich, the stage show will run for 36 weeks until November 1st, when it will close in Blackpool.

Tickets will go on sale from October, and this will also herald the launch of a fully integrated marketing campaign, valued in excess of £1 million.

"This is the third time that we've bought a live Scooby-Doo production to the UK, but the 2009 show is a whole new production of superb quality and the longest tour that we've ever organised in the UK," explains Mark Avery, CEO of AEG ThemeSTAR.

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