TV Shows Explore New World of Touchpoints

From Bedding and Onesies to Motorcycles and Makeup, Shows Push Merchandising Boundaries

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How about some "True Blood" makeup or "River Monsters" waders?

While such tie-ins are as old as "As seen on TV," the networks are lately placing a renewed emphasis on merchandising as a way to create a symbiotic relationship between engaged viewers and their favorite shows.

"These licensing deals aren't designed [so much] to generate revenue, but visibility," said Adam Hanft, CEO of marketing firm Hanft Projects. "The traditional marketing vehicle -- promoting shows on the network's themselves -- is becoming less attractive as streaming and on-demand usage don't make for a captive audience; so they need a new way to advertise shows. Merchandising is a way to do this." Here are some current offerings:

"Ten to 15 years ago it was apparel, toys, mugs and pens. While there's still a solid core business

in those types of items, it has expanded beyond that ," said Jeffrey Godsick, president of Fox Consumer Products. There's probably no better example than FX, which has inked a licensing deal with Bartels to product 100 limited-edition motorcycles tied to "Sons of Anarchy." The bikes will retail for about $25,000 at Bartels and online this fall. This is part of a flurry of licensing deals for the series that includes apparel, home décor and stationary. Following the success of the "Sons of Anarchy" online store, which launched two years ago, merchandise will soon hit brick-and-mortar retailers and expand into an extensive collection of products.

Animal Planet
The cable network, owned by Discovery Communications, is slapping QR codes on the packaging of its products to allow consumers to get more information on its programming, including previews and exclusives.

For its flagship series, "River Monsters," the network rolled out a line of fishing gear earlier in the year and is introducing similar equipment for kids. It will also soon announce an apparel line so you can be properly dressed when you tell your next fish tale.


Fox had a substantial presence at this year's Licensing Expo, the industry's largest annual trade show, where it revealed several new tie-ins: products co-branded with "Family Guy" and the rock band Kiss. The line, which will hit store shelves this fall, includes vinyl figures, bobbleheads, apparel, plush, novelty, barware, social expressions and fine art. Separately, the animated show is expanding into pet products under the Fetch banner. Overall, Fox's consumer-products division generates about $2.2 billion in retail sales annually, said Mr. Godsick.

Comedy Central

Viacom's Comedy Central announced in July the creation of Comedy Central Enterprise, which consolidates all of its TV-licensing properties under one roof. While Comedy Central has been merchandising for some time, its latest tie-ins include a "South Park" Muscle Man Marc doll created by fashion designer Marc Jacobs. The network is also rolling out a line of T-shirts, hats and other paraphernalia tied to the "Indecision 2012" tour this fall, which features stars from "The Daily Show."

HBO is sinking its teeth into the "True Blood" craze with a line of beauty products. Marketed under the brand name Forsaken, the line includes a fragrance by Givaudan, beauty products from Deborah Lippman and home-fragrance items from D.L. & Co. In a first for HBO, the line will launch exclusively on HSN on Aug. 9 and be made available in the HBO Shop in September before being distributed to retailers later in the year. "We see value in creating items that have more buzz rather than chasing revenue. We are doing things out of the box that 's not just a T-shirt or a doll to create excitement," said James Costas, VP-HBO global licensing.


If you've yearned to have a similar living room as Alicia Florrick's, the lead character from CBS's "The Good Wife," CBS can help. The network is introducing its first merchandising tie-in this fall, a line of home décor created by Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams and Interlude Home in collaboration with set decorator Beth Kushnick that is inspired by the actual set design. The products will debut near the premiere of the series' fourth season and be available in Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams stores and at other retailers.

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