‘Where’s Spot?’ Celebrates 40 Years with New Products

Penguin Ventures, the group that handles licensing and other commercial activities for Penguin Random House in the U.K., has retained licensing agency LicensingWorks! as the new U.S. licensing representative for Where’s Spot? Licensed products are expected to debut in 2020, in time to celebrate the 40th anniversary of late author-illustrator Eric Hill’s lift-the-flap storybook.

Products will include items for babies up to two and toddlers two to four, with a focus on toys, infant and toddler apparel, and early learning products, according to Jill Collins, who is in charge of retail partnerships and promotions at LicensingWorks! Distribution is expected to parallel that of the lift-the-flap book, which is sold everywhere from book and specialty stores to mass retailers. Penguin Ventures has developed style guides that will allow licensees to introduce new artwork into the U.S. market.

“We’ll develop merchandise to support and complement the publishing,” Collins said. “We’re integrating seek-and-find and lift-the-flap play into the merchandise to differentiate it at retail, reinforce what consumers love about the brand, and stay true to the heritage.”

LicensingWorks! expects to collaborate with Penguin Young Readers, Spot’s U.S. publisher—U.K.-based sister imprint Puffin is the book’s global master publisher—to cross-market and cross-promote books and merchandise. Although there has not been much Spot licensed merchandise on the market in the U.S. in recent years, the publishing program has been going strong. Twenty titles are available in the U.S. to date, and annual sales have increased 10% over the past five years. Five new titles are planned for 2019 and more in 2020.

The original book has sold 65 million copies worldwide in 60 languages since its publication in 1980, with the U.S. being the top market, accounting for 25 million of those copies. “It’s children’s first friend in the board book space,” Collins said.

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