One fish, two fish, red licensing program, blue licensing program.
Dr. Seuss characters are some of the most iconic of all time, so it’s only natural that they lend themselves to successful licensing programs. This year, in particular, Dr. Seuss Enterprises expanded its presence in the toy category with several partnerships worldwide, including games from USAopoly, plush from Aurora, figures from Funko, and more.
This momentum is only the start of the company’s toy plans in 2022. Dr. Seuss Enterprises will grow in the toy category next year for something for fans of all ages, including collectors, families, and kids. The Toy Book chatted with Susan Brandt, president of Dr. Seuss Enterprises, about the company’s plans to develop its toy consumer products programs next year.
Toy Book: This year, Dr. Seuss Enterprises has grown a robust portfolio in the toy category worldwide. What are some of your key partnerships in the U.S.?
Susan Brandt: The Dr. Seuss brand is all about creating unique experiences that bring our characters and stories to life in new and innovative ways. The toy category is a natural fit for us. This year, we saw tremendous growth in the space through collaborations with several leading toy companies. One of our most exciting new partnerships is a recent deal with board game developer USAopoly, which will begin with a multi-character Monopoly game and a Grinch Operation game that will put a new spin on the classic works. We also partnered with CreateOn to make interactive Magna-Tile collections based on Green Eggs and Ham, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. Our collaboration with Funko Games is also now in-store and includes How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, Happy Birthday to You!, and The Cat in the Hat board and card games. Bendon is creating color and activity books, and Aurora will continue to produce plush depicting a variety of Seuss characters.
How does Dr. Seuss Enterprises work with its licensing partners to bring the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss to toys?
SB: We encourage our licensing partners, especially the toy developers, to fully embrace all the whimsical, wondrous elements of Dr. Seuss’s stories. Our fans adore the values and originality of our characters and stories, so we advise the toy companies we work with to lean into that unique ethos. As a result of these great collaborations, many of our toys have been featured in holiday gift guides this year, including Funko Games’ “Grinch Grow Your Heart Out” card game in which players alternate being the Grinch and playing tricks on one another.
TB: Dr. Seuss’ properties feature some of the most iconic legacy characters from literature known worldwide. How do you ensure these classic characters and stories are incorporated into the products?
SB: We have some general principles when it comes to licensing products. We want to produce high-quality merchandise with best-in-class partners. Additionally, we look to fill category gaps to reach our target audience. And, we deliver integrated retail programs when we approach retailers; we don’t just give them a one-off. Our goal is to build broad programs that connect with our fans and keep them excited for what’s coming next.
TB: Dr. Seuss is also a pop culture phenomenon, reaching fans of all ages. How does this success tie into your growth strategy in the toy category? Do you choose licensees based on their expertise in a target demographic, ones that reflect a broad audience, or is it a mix?
SB: We are honored to have such a wonderful, dedicated fan base. The ages of our fans range from toddlers to grandparents, which is why we work with a select group of leading partners who can concept products that appeal to a wide range of people to reflect our passionate fanbase. We want to create toys that will be fun for the whole family. Dr. Seuss’s books are meant to be shared, and our goal is to develop toys and games that bring people together in a similar way.
TB: How do your licensees vary by region worldwide?
SB: Dr. Seuss has an enormous global reach, and our characters are widely recognized across the globe. We publish titles in over 110 countries, so our licensees do inevitably differ from region to region. We try to walk the line between maintaining a consistent international brand ethos, while still encouraging our licensees to develop imaginative products. One of our most popular international toys is an adorably grumpy Grinch rubber duck made by our UK licensing partner Rubber Road. That is the type of unique toy we love!
TB: The Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas are both celebrating their 65th anniversary in 2022. How is Dr. Seuss going to celebrate those milestones tied in with consumer product launches?
SB: The Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas! are two of our most iconic, beloved stories. We are working closely with all of our partners to create an experience our fans will love that will celebrate the titles, but unfortunately, we can’t share any specific details at this time. We promise it will be worth the wait!
TB: How does Dr. Seuss plan to grow its success in the toy category in 2022?
SB: The success we had in 2021 in the toy category was really energizing, and we plan to continue expanding next year by collaborating with more prominent toy companies. We are looking forward to the 2022 release of our multi-character Monopoly game and Grinch operation game created by the influential game developer USAopoly. We hope that our work with USAopoly will showcase the enormous potential to incorporate our characters into popular toys and establish our brand as a leading toy licensor.
TB: What’s in store for the future for Dr. Seuss Enterprises?
SB: Beyond the immediate releases we have happening within the toy space, we are even more excited for what the future may bring. We have three major motion pictures in development, several book expansion lines, and several television projects that will be streaming into homes in the coming years. As our entertainment projects continue to hit the market, we expect the attached interest in our characters to grow even more and help us reach a broader audience with more interaction and innovation than ever before.