The Wiggles Dance into a New Era

The Australian children’s entertainment group, The Wiggles, are in the midst of a brand revamp that includes new cast mates, live events and licensing opportunities.

The Australian children's entertainment group, The Wiggles, are in the midst of a refresh. The 27-year-old franchise re-emerged some six years ago with three new band members and are once again taking the world by storm. With a live show, six series broadcast on various networks around the world, sponsorship opportunities and an expansive consumer product program, The Wiggles have reclaimed their title as the No. 1 children's entertainment group in the world, according to Paul Field, managing director, The Wiggles.

The early part of the decade saw the band lose three of its founding members–Murray Cook, Greg Page and Jeff Fatt. But replacements Simon Pryce, Lachlan Gillespie and the band's first female member, Emma Watkins, have since joined founding member Anthony Field, and the synergy and formula that has captivated preschoolers everywhere is back.

After joining the group in 2011, Watkins has gained popularity with audiences and whom Field credits with broadening The Wiggles' fan base. The Wiggles say that the addition of Watkins has increased the brand's presence in the girls' toy aisle with a focus on dance, dolls and girls role play.

"Emma is a terrific role model for all children–not only does she sing and dance during the shows, but she signs [Auslan], plays the drums and drives the Big Red Car," says Field.

One of Watkins' signature products, The Bowtiful Ballet Studio, a home ballet studio for preschoolers, sold out in Australia within 24-hours. There is now an extensive range of Emma toys, books and apparel that complement The Wiggles' original focus around music.

The Wiggles' multi-platform "refresh" is attracting interest from a number of licensees in North America. Fun 2 Play Toys has signed on as the master toy, Kino Lorber for home entertainment and Stoneridge Cycle for sporting goods such as ride-ons and foot-to-floor.

The Wiggles' live shows, the cornerstone of the brand, have always been popular, and last year, The Wiggles performed to more than 330,000 fans throughout Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., Ireland and Canada. In Canada alone, The Wiggles performed to nearly 50,000 fans across 27 venues. They will repeat the Canadian tour this fall and are also adding the U.S. to the tour schedule this year, performing on the West and East Coasts beginning in mid-June.

The enduring success of The Wiggles is best encapsulated by Ben Elton, an international writer and director who says: "The core of The Wiggles is their humanity–the human scale of what they do. They are not puppets and they are not cartoons, they are real people. There is something life-enhancing about The Wiggles. There is a spirit, a good nature that runs through them."

"The Wiggles experience at a live show is complemented by an extensive tour merchandise offering with a range of age-appropriate products to enable memories of The Wiggles to 'live on' far after the show has finished," adds Field.

The Wiggles currently have a number of television series including "Ready, Steady, Wiggle!," "Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle!," "Wiggletown!" and "Lachy! Emma!," as well as many specials currently broadcast on ABC in Australia, NBCUniversal Kids and Hulu in the U.S., Treehouse and Netflix in Canada and a further 190 countries around the world.

Recently, The Wiggles produced YouTube-specific content including "The Wiggles Nursery Rhymes" and "Emma's Bowtiful Ballet," which has collectively gained more than 25 million views in a relatively short period of time. The Wiggles have since engaged in collaborations with Super Simple Songs and Mother Goose Club, which have further enhanced The Wiggles' viewership.

"Over the past 12 months, our engagement through YouTube has risen dramatically," says Field. "We are seeing triple-digit growth in North America alone which is further enhancing our reputation as the world's favorite preschool group."