Network Enterprises (CNE), the branding and merchandising arm of Cartoon Network, started its operations in India in 2001. Since then, it has tried its hand at licensing for various segments such as kids' marketers, Hollywood and Bollywood movie merchandise and character based merchandise. CNE claims that Pogo is the only brand in the country that has a consolidated licensing programme.
A few years ago, the division conducted a research study to find out whether the brand Pogo could be stretched to different categories. The kids' responses in the study revealed categories such as apparel, toys, publishing, gifts and novelty items. CNE spotted an opportunity in these.
CNE now plans to categorise the Pogo toy business into three sub-brands - Pogo Wheels, Pogo Sport and Pogo Inspired. Pogo Wheels will include high performance toys on wheels such as remote controlled cars, cycles and roller skates, targeting boys.
Pogo Sport will have merchandise that is 'sporting' in nature. "We will introduce sports equipment, accessories and travel games in this category," George adds.
Pogo Inspired will have products which capture the imagination of kids and can't be clubbed in the other two categories. Movie merchandising will be a part of this category.
"We were growing bigger and we realised that instead of putting all the toys under the Pogo umbrella, we could create sub-brands as we were launching more products and diversifying," he says.
CNE ventured into movie merchandising with the Hindi movies Bhoothnath and Love Story 2050. For Bhoothnath, a high speed spinner toy called Bucchki was created under the Pogo umbrella. Bucchki reported sales of 60,000 units within three months of its launch and has sold more than 3,00,000 units till date. However, George says such characters are short-lived.
"The objective of venturing into movie merchandising was to understand how to manage a very short product life-cycle. The craze around movie merchandise lasts for a few months, whereas interest in mechandise for a show such as Ben 10 last for years," he explains.
CNE will not look at movie merchandising as a specific business. However, it will build merchandise around its own productions, which will roll out by 2010.
"We have a couple of Bollywood movies that we have already signed. After that, we will not sign any more deals," George says. CNE also developed more than 18 types of customised movie merchandise across five categories, such as publishing, toys, home furnishings, apparel and novelty for Love Story 2050.
"We have a couple of more Bollywood movies that we had signed, but once those are over, we won't be signing any more deals," he says.
The Pogo merchandising business comprises about 25 per cent of the overall CNE business in India. There are more than 1,000 Cartoon Network and Pogo consumer products available at more than 800 counters across 40 cities in India. The division is growing at 50 per cent year on year.
George believes CNE will grow along with the flourishing retail scenario. "The equity has been built in the market and the growth will happen exponentially as retail booms," he says.