Random House Enterprises Makes a Bold Debut

Random House launched Random House Enterprises last year with the mission to leverage the company’s existing portfolio of properties. RHE will debut at Brand Licensing Europe 2013 with an exciting lineup of new and classic properties.

Jo Edwards, head of licensing and brand development, Random House Enterprises

Random House Enterprises was launched in September 2012 with the goal to expand Random House's publishing properties into other areas of business, and, in particular, consumer products and television. According to Jo Edwards, head of licensing and brand development, RHE, Brand Licensing Europe is the perfect venue to launch its new face to the licensing trade–and there is a lot to launch.

Leading the impressive list of RHE properties at BLE is Wanda and the Alien, based on the best-selling books by Sue Hendra. For the property, RHE is developing a 2D animated series in conjunction with Comix Entertainment for the U.K.'s Channel 5 Milkshake programming block.

The plot centers on Wanda, a rabbit whose peaceful woodland life is shattered when an alien crash lands near her home. Of course the alien doesn't speak English and Wanda doesn't speak the language of the alien, so the two have a lot of explaining and exploring to do. And that, says Edwards, is the heart of the series.

"It is a series all about friendship and exploring and understanding each other," says Edwards. "The alien can work magic, and this enables Wanda to understand how and why things work and are the way they are. Eventually the alien repairs his ship and he takes Wanda with him to his planet–so the learning roles are reversed."

"Wanda and the Alien" is a preschool series aimed at children ages 2 to 6. The consumer product campaign is just being constructed.

Also appearing at BLE from RHE is the property Alfie, based on a series of classic kids' books by Shirley Hughes. With sales of the books topping 2.1 million copies in the U.K. alone, Alfie is one property that really does deserve the perhaps overused description "classic." A book noted in the World Book Day initiative, the series is now in its 11th generation and has two storybooks in its collection.

"Alfie is a heritage property, and so we will be focusing on gifts–Aquarelle for example, has signed a deal for a range of limited edition prints–but we are also looking at toys, games and apparel," says Edwards.

 

Also deserving of the description "classic" are the tales of Swallows and Amazons by the late Arthur Ransom. Because of the wide age demographic that knows and loves these stories, and because they are very nautical stories, RHE is planning two very different consumer product campaigns: one, says Edwards, targeted to adults and focusing on gifts and stationery, and another built around nautical themes and targeted to kids with a focus on apparel, accessories and homewares.

The Swallows and Amazons property is very much a launch brand for RHE at BLE where Edwards will be ready to meet with licensees, she says.

The property Fairies of Blossom Bakery is targeted to girls ages 3 to 6 and, as the title suggests, centers on baking. As Edwards points out, "baking is currently very on-trend on TV, but everything that is out there is aimed at adults. 'Fairies of Blossom Bakery,' which is aimed at preschool girls, and with five furry friends who all live in Cup Cake Kingdom, will really fill a gap in the market."

 

Edwards believes that the twin themes of fairies and baking lend the property to obvious extensions in kitchen ranges and toys. The first of the Fairies of Blossom Bakery series of books, Cookie and the Secret Sleepover, was published in July with another slated for release this month. A further three books are due out next year.

Rounding off what promises to be an impressive BLE debut for RHE is its Princess Poppy property. First published in the U.K. in 2006, the Princess Poppy books have racked up sales of 1.9 million copies in the region.

"Princess is a name Poppy is given by all who know and love her because it reflects her kind, sweet character, and that is really what the books are all about: friendship and core values of kindness and good behavior. There is also a strong theme of arts and crafts running through the stories–a lot of make and do, and so arts and crafts and paper products will feature strongly in our consumer products campaign," says Edwards.

All in all, it promises to be an exciting debut for Random House Enterprises at BLE 2013.

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