The Toy Book chats with Silvergate Media’s Senior Vice President of Consumer Products and TV sales, North America, EMEA, Australia, and New Zealand Lisa Macdonald to discuss the company’s Octonauts relaunch.
The Toy Book: It’s been more than a decade since the Octonauts first hit the scene. Now, the brand is relaunching for a whole new generation of kids. Why is now the right time to reboot the Octonauts franchise?
Lisa Macdonald: It is always the right time to provide quality entertainment and education to families, and Octonauts does just that. The three recent Netflix specials that were launched over the past year were so incredibly well-received that we know that there is huge demand for Octonauts content worldwide. We delved deep into underwater locations in the first four seasons, and we know we can apply the same winning formula to adventures on land. We know that kids are always going to be interested in the fascinating aspects of the natural world, and parents will always support and nurture that curiosity; that is why it’s a perfect time to expand the Octonauts universe.
TB: Octonauts has been known for characters that embark on exciting missions that have real-world meaning. What issues will the Octonauts face and inspire kids with in Octonauts: Above and Beyond?
LM: This is absolutely one of the strengths of the original series and core to the Octonauts brand DNA.
In Octonauts Above & Beyond, the Octonauts’ mission expands as the characters officially take their mission onto land for the first time. The show combines the high-octane action and stunning creativity that has come to define the brand, as well as the educational content in each episode that parents love. Kids will learn real facts about amazing creatures, real Earth environments, and the challenges of dealing with water and weather phenomena.
As the Octonauts respond to a range of new dangers across our ever-changing planet, their mission is as vital as ever: They will explore harsh and remote environments, rescue animals that need their help, and protect the land and all living creatures.
TB: During Octonauts’ initial run, the brand was a global hit with live experiences and a mall tour in the U.S. Why are experiences, such as the new collaboration with Merlin Sea Life Centers, so important?
LM: Live experiences are really important to the Octonauts universe. There is no better way to bring the brand to life than a fully immersive attraction like the one at the world-class Sea Life Center in China or the various mall tours that have been so well received globally. It speaks to the deep connection between Octonauts and their fans.
The brand simply transcends whatever platform it is on, whether it’s Netflix, YouTube, or broadcast TV. Octonauts fans are eager for different experiences beyond passively enjoying an episode. They want to be able to live those amazing adventures, take orders from Captain Barnacles, and work alongside Lieutenant Kwazii. The affinity between the audience and the Octonauts is so strong that it can support any number of different iterations and touchpoints including live events, licensed products, and, of course, toys.
TB: The original Octonauts toys were a global hit. Next year, Moose Toys will launch a full new range of toys. Can you share an early teaser of what families can expect in the new line?
LM: Moose Toys is such a creative company with the kind of experience and track record to really take the toys to the next level.
Vehicles have always been a key feature of the Octonauts adventures and Octonauts Above & Beyond is no different. At the heart of the series is a new mobile HQ, the Octoray, supported by a new fleet of land-based vehicles, the Terra Gups, which can climb mountains, dig tunnels, sail over sand dunes, and navigate dense jungles. We’re also introducing new characters like Paani, a daring hydrologist. Moose Toys is creating an extensive product line that is inspired by the new and old series.
TB: Beyond the original content and extensions into toys, licensing is an important part of the Octonauts brand. How is the licensing program for the new series shaping up?
LM: The licensing program for Octonauts is built upon the brand heritage that has engaged consumers for more than a decade now. The franchise is always being invigorated with new content, and that has helped us attract best-in-class partners. The UK, the U.S., and China will be our lead markets as they have existing loyal fanbases we can tap into, and we’ll look internationally to expand that footprint.
Our strategy is to have a consumer products program that will be led by toys. Additionally, we will continue to expand publishing and live events. The new series lends itself to exploring different areas, and we are really excited about that. The global reach of Netflix also means that we will be looking into a number of different territories and evaluating what touchpoints would work well both locally and regionally. It is important for us to embrace a tailored approach to licensing. It is not a one-size-fits-all program. We know that certain activations work in some territories and not in others.
This article was originally published in the October 2021 edition of the Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue!