Ultra Movie Channel Ltd has tied up with Kiddinx Merchandising GmbH to market Benjamin, the Friendly Elephant, in India. Benjamin is Germany’s most popular animated toon character, which has proven child appeal as a positive educator and entertainer, a friend and mentor who blends fantasy and reality.
Leveraging its brand values of friendly, cuddly, big, strong, smart, helpful, joyful, educational, fun, humorous, over 500 types of products have been licensed in Germany alone. Benjamin is now set to become an international star, with a new production of 52 26-minutes TV programmes in English and other European languages.
Ultra has big plans to market Benjamin in India. Elaborating on the same, Sushil Kumar Agrawal, Managing Director, Ultra Movie Channel Ltd, said, “We plan to take Benjamin into Indian homes in his many avatars. We have the merchandising rights for all Benjamin characters for India and plan to market products like stationery, toys, games, consumer durables, ceramics, apparels, furnishings, gift items, greeting cards, party products, etc.”
Nearly 200 products have been planned, out of which about 20 products have been already soft launched, including party packs, soft toys, VCDs and DVDs. The company has plans to invest Rs 50 million over the next five years for marketing Benjamin branded products.
Agrawal added, “We aim to make Benjamin the premier pre-school property in India. The key strategy is to build a substantial franchise for Benjamin amongst the target audience in India by exposing them to Benjamin in an engaging way. We will be using multiple channels to do that. The possibility of a tie-up with a TV channel for telecasting the 52-episode serial ‘Benjamin’ is being explored. We have already begun reaching out to the young audiences through DVDs and VCDs. On-ground events with appearances of Benjamin designed to directly engage the children are also in the pipeline. On a parallel level. we will also look at tie-ups with marketers of children’s products, who seek to leverage Benjamin’s appeal for their products. We have already received some inquiries and are in initial discussion with some of them.”
The size of retail sales in India is around Rs 8,000 crore, with licensed merchandising accounting for about Rs 4,000 crore. The Indian licensing and merchandising industry is still at a nascent stage and has immense potential as the market is untapped.
“The children’s market was always growing, but nobody has really concentrated on this segment, particularly, in entertainment. FMCG corporates have realised the growth potential and they have captured the market accordingly. We hope that entertainment industry will also take this segment seriously once we go into the market in full swing,” Agrawal further said.
The merchandise market is ready to take off with many properties and movies taking this route. Movie merchandising is a big business in abroad and for the box office hits movies, revenue from merchandising are equivalent to the theatrical collections. In India, certain producers have realised potential of movie merchandising and they are looking into the same and the first average success was Jadoo from the blockbuster ‘Koi Mil Gaya’.