Disney's Planes: Flying High

With a history of box office success for its vehicle-themed theatrical releases, Disney Consumer Products is readying its newest property in the Planes franchise for another big screen and retail debut.

Disney's Cars films won big at the box office with Cars (2006) and Cars 2 (2011), earning $461 million and $560 million globally, respectively. The results at retail were even more significant with the emergence of a multi-billion dollar evergreen franchise. The first results for Planes is also strong, with $220 million earned at the global box office to date. (Source: Box Office Mojo.)

Product for the Planes property is performing equally well, according to The Walt Disney Company. In its most recent earnings report for fiscal 2013 announced Nov. 7, the company has yielded a higher operating income for Q4 due to increases in its licensing and publishing business tied to the Planes property, as well as Monsters University and its Disney Junior merchandise.

For Planes, Disney Consumer Products rolled out a wide-reaching product program beginning last June that encompasses more than 300 SKUs, promotional partnerships with major mass retailers such as Target and a multi-platform approach. Product is still at retail and continues to be refreshed and carried over, with plans for product extending well into 2014.

To expand on this retail high, Disney will launch the new film Planes: Fire & Rescue July 18, 2014, in the U.S. To support the theatrical event, DCP will have a fully developed product program ready to launch alongside the newest film, complete with a brand-new play pattern.

"The product line for Planes: Fire & Rescue enhances existing vehicle play patterns and offers a new way to engage with a rescue play pattern that is tied directly to the storyline of the film," says Josh Silverman, executive vice president, global licensing, DCP.

Josh Silverman, executive vice president, global licensing, Disney Consumer Products

For the new line, DCP has added new rescue vehicles, as well as some interactive toys that will help kids knock down small fire targets and play sets that will enable kids and Dusty to "put out fires" and save cars and RVs that are in danger.

DCP will continue to enhance its 360-degree approach for Planes for the new film, continuing a steady cadence of content supported by merchandise debuting throughout 2014.

This strategy is not new for DCP.

"Typically DCP's strategy is to have products set at retail four to six weeks before a film's launch to introduce consumers to the franchise and build excitement for the film in tandem with the studio's marketing and promotions," says Silverman. "This worked exceptionally well with Planes because the story was an extension of a top boys' property and global powerhouse. Boys and fans of all ages naturally gravitated toward the product because of their love for vehicles and racing play."

A broad swath of licensees have been tapped for the Planes: Fire & Rescue program across multiple categories, with companies such as Mattel, Thinkway, Huffy, Hallmark, Wonderforge, Jay Franco, Delta, Payless, Fast Forward and Komar among those already on board. Product is scheduled to hit retail shelves in June and will be widely distributed across multiple retail channels. Early categories are broad and include toys, social expressions, fashion, home, books, bath and more.

"The product for Planes performed so well that we will not only be expanding space within existing retailers, but expanding to new retailers as well," says Silverman. "Breakout programs and account exclusives are in development across retail."

Products for both the Planes and Planes: Fire & Rescue programs will be on shelf side-by-side, each tying back to the individual film's distinct storyline.

"The wonderful storytelling in Planes: Fire & Rescue gives us an exceptional opportunity to extend Planes products beyond the very popular, traditional racing play and into another complementary play pattern of rescue," says Silverman. "Since Planes product launched at retail we've seen a halo benefit on our Cars business, as it added even more excitement around vehicle play and both of these top boys' properties."

If history is the ultimate indicator, Planes: Fire & Rescue products are poised for retail success. Planes is currently enjoying hefty retail support, with products named to several hot holiday toy lists (Amazon, Toys 'R' Us, Walmart and Kmart, to name a few), as well as accolades from publications and organizations such as Good Housekeeping, the National Parenting Publications Awards and more.

The praise can be attributed in part to DCP's multi-platform approach and robust support across all lines of business.

"Developing a multi-platform approach is about building brand affinity through immersive storytelling. DCP is focused on delivering multiple touch points for consumers eager for content to engage with their favorite characters in whatever manner they want," says Silverman. "We are leveraging all of the resources of The Walt Disney Company to support Planes: Fire & Rescue with product offerings from across the company, in addition to support on Disney's online channels and through digital assets, games, interstitials, retail programs, PR and marketing support and more."

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