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Spot celebrates 40 years of fun

Loved by parents and children alike, 2020 marks the 40th anniversary of Spot, Eric Hill’s adventurous little puppy. PPE spoke to Penguin Ventures’ junior brand manager Sarah Hulands to find out what makes this much-loved character the perfect companion for preschoolers everywhere.

First published in 1980, many of us will have grown up with Spot in one way or another. In fact, in the 40 years since Spot was first bought to life by illustrator Eric Hill he has been translated into over 60 languages, with over 65 million books sold worldwide.

Penguin Ventures’ team will be celebrating the anniversary with a programme of activity which will engage consumers and carve out a clear space for Spot in the competitive preschool marketplace.

“Anniversaries are a great opportunity to incentivise licensees and help them celebrate Spot,” explained Sarah. “We are working with a number of high-calibre partners to support product launches by delivering marketing and PR activity that will span social media, press, influencer activity and family events.”

World Book Day in March is set to be the first major focus of the consumer activity programme for 2020, with influencer activity driving initial engagement. The campaign will see clothing partner Dennicci in supermarkets (launching in Tesco and expanding into Sainsburys) while Smiffys dress-up (0 – 5yrs) will be available online and in independent retailers only.

The bookstore-based anniversary celebrations which are scheduled to follow in early spring will include parties, literary festivals, instore readings, POS displays, consumer competitions, influencer engagament, etc.

“We are also targeting the nursery space with various partner activations, including a partnership with Sport Relief in March,” revealed Sarah. “We wanted to get Spot in the heart of the cultural conversation and with the Tokyo Olympics coming up, we knew sport was going to be a key focus.”

A refreshed creative identity for 2020 remains true to the classic design values and runs through both the product style guide and the newly activated digital channels.

“This strong, impactful look means that Spot can be applied to different products very easily without losing his identity,” Sarah explained. “The illustrations translate perfectly in so many different ways, across everything from apparel to plush and stage to screen.”

“Ultimately, the objectives for the year to come are to broaden Spot’s licensing programme and reach new audiences in a variety of different ways; making the most of Spot’s heritage and ensuring that he continues to remain relevant for generations to come.”

This is an adapted version of the full-length interview, which can be seen in full here.

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