With a strategic move towards broadening "Dilbert" for a business audience, Janine Hallisey, VP-marketing, United Media licensing, knew her company could make a popular cartoon an even bigger winner.
"Earlier fans of Dilbert tended to be techy...so we were careful not to go too far into that market while broadening the brand," she says. So last year "we focused a lot on publishing, books, calendars."
The company strategically positioned Dilbert as a business brand, advising the strip creator Scott Adams to go to press with a book publisher "that would stock it in the business, rather than humor, section."
Under Ms. Hallisey's advising, the company also chose business-related products for licensing.
"When we looked at what products to license, we looked around people's office cubicles," she says.
While United Media won't talk licensing revenues, Ms. Hallisey can talk volume.
Licensing deals have quadrupled from 10 in 1995 to more than 40 at press time (one of which is a Hallmark deal for 30 different greeting card designs).
This fall 3M Co. launches a series of Post-It notes for the brand, while Oz will bring out mugs and gift books, a handful of companies will license apparel, and a second Dilbert business title will come from HarperCollins.
Meanwhile, the number of newspapers carrying the strip has jumped from from 400 in January 1995 to over 1,000 in May 1996.