The Bugg Report recently had an opportunity to speak to Debra Joester, President & Owner at The Joester Loria Group. The Joester Loria Group is a global licensing agency recognized for producing innovative, award-winning brand extension programs for a number of the world’s best known brands. The agency was founded in 1999 by industry experts Debra Joester and Joanne Loria. We spoke about the history of The Joester Loria Group, the 50th Anniversary, Eric Carle and the heritage of the brand, partnerships, technology and what we can look forward to this year then into 2020 and beyond.
Thank you for speaking to The Bugg Report. Can you provide an overview of The Joester Loria Group?
The Joester Loria Group celebrates 20 years as a leading licensing agency in 2019. The award-winning agency has been the architect of ground breaking programs for global corporate clients including Pepsi, Kellogg, Corona Beer and Jeep, for children’s properties including Care Bears and The World or Eric Carle and for trend and emerging brands.
This year marks 50 years of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, an amazing achievement. Can you tell us about the heritage of the brand and how much it has achieved in this time?
Eric Carle’s works have been a childhood rite of passage for 3 generations. Parents and teachers turn to The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See, and other Eric Carle titles when introducing children to their first books. Eric Carle’s books are timeless and captivate children worldwide, thanks to his effortless storytelling, iconic characters, and colorful art. Over the past several years, Carle’s characters and artwork has been brought off the pages onto collections of licensed products including toys, apparel, games, apps, bedding and home décor, educational products and much more. Targeted primarily to infants and toddlers, these products are popular with parents who affectionately recall growing up with Carle’s books and wish to bring a great literary brand into the lives of their children. Today, the World of Eric Carle products are sold in over 40,000 doors, have a number of strategic retail partnerships from the US to Japan, the UK, Germany and Australia.
Eric Carle’s art and inspiration has provided this amazing brand to children all around the world for 50 years now. How will you celebrate this milestone?
We have developed a global campaign that includes events, products, charitable initiatives, DTR’s and educational programs. Some highlights include the 50th anniversary collector’s edition book, 50th anniversary VHC Plush, a VHC curriculum program that was provided to 75,000 pre-school teachers, and a celebration of nature in partnership with NABU in Germany, the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK and zoos and butterfly conservatories in the US. Retail events and DTR’s include Buy Buy Baby and Barnes and Noble in the US, JoJo Mama Bebe, Sainsbury and Debenham’s in the UK, and Graphis and Toys R Us in Japan. The live show is touring 4 continents this year, bringing VHC and other Eric Carle stories to life with oversized puppets and Eric’s storytelling.
As the world becomes more and more driven by technology and the internet, how has this evolution changed the way you deliver Eric’s work and The Very Hungry Caterpillar to the market?
Digital content and consumer engagement is an exciting platform for us. The award winning Apps created by Touch Press have been downloaded over 6.5 million times and have been Apple’s top selling children’s apps in 24 countries. The launch of the Very Hungry Caterpillar Play School subscription app last year was a resounding success and both subscription and retention have exceeded all expectations. Social Media engages moms, teachers, and librarians with art, content, activities and new product previews, while influencers continue to bring the World of Eric Carle to their followers.
As a world renowned brand, can you outline some recent highlights globally?
- Chick-fil-A Under 3 Kids’ Meal QSR promotion in over 2,200 US locations
- Global collaboration with Dr. Brown’s for infant pacifiers/teethers, training cups, and solid feeding products kicked off fall 2018
- Branded juices from Smucker’s Sensible Sippers (US) and Cawston Press (UK)
- Healthy Choices for Baby campaign by Milupa, world leader in infant nutrition, enters its fourth year with dynamic marketing reaching 20 million German consumers
- Multi-category global placement at Kohl’s, Buy Buy Baby, TJ Maxx, Debenhams, Mothercare, M& Co. Real, Netto, Toys R Us Japan, AEON and other leading retailers
- Very Hungry Caterpillar themed pop-up shops and cafes in Japan
- Traveling exhibits and interactive experiences worldwide at museums, zoos, aquariums and theme parks
Finally, what can we look out for in the second half of 2019 and early 2020?
In October this year, Penguin Random House Australia will publish a delightful new Very Hungry Caterpillar lift-the-flap title with an Australian theme, titled The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Australian Friends. This beautiful book encourages children to peek under the flaps to find some of the many and varied animals of Australia including kangaroos, pelicans and crocodiles and sees the Very Hungry Caterpillar appearing in the rainforest on the final spread.
Reagan Croucher, Senior Brands and Licensing Manager at Penguin Random House Australia said “we’ve been working on this concept for quite some time, so we’re really excited to be publishing The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Australian Friends in the Very Hungry Caterpillar’s 50th birthday year. We believe this title will be popular with Australian children and become a true classic just like The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”
Showtime Attractions will be bringing The Very Hungry Caterpillar Craft Villages and Meet & Greets to malls across Australia; as well as new and exciting events including a Very Hungry Caterpillar Exhibition and Activity Land!