In 2015 it will be 50 years since Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s Thunderbirds was first aired on UK television and in celebration of this hugely significant milestone anniversary, ITV Studios Global Entertainment (ITVS GE) has unveiled details of innovative brand marketing promotions and new additions to the Thunderbirds Classic licensing programme that demonstrate the brand’s timeless appeal, enduring popularity and its continued ability to engage fans of the franchise.
The 50th anniversary celebrations for Thunderbirds Classic start at Glastonbury Festival where Charles Hazlewood’s All Star Collective will be performing a special set of work written by the late British film and television composer Barry Gray. Gray was responsible for creating much of the music for the original series including the Thunderbirds theme tune, and at 1pm on Sunday 29th June 2014 the Charles Hazlewood’s All Star Collective will take to The Park stage to perform a reworking of his compositions for a new generation of contemporary music fans.
Hailed by the Evening Standard as “lavishly gifted” Charles Hazlewood’s All Star Collective features artists from across the musical spectrum including Adrian Utley and Jason Hazeley (Portishead), Ross Hughes (Goldfrapp), Jim Barr (Get the Blessing), in addition to François Evans playing Barry Gray’s very own Ondes Martenot; the antique electronic instrument that is heard in Thunderbirds and the iconic Mysterons theme. This is a uniquely diverse ensemble that promises a never-before-seen or heard performance reflecting the unique qualities of the Thunderbirds Classic brand and a perfect nostalgia trip for Sunday lunchtime at Glastonbury Festival.
ITVS GE is also expanding its Thunderbirds Classic licensing programme as the anniversary approaches. During the last significant licensing programme in 2001 17% of boys aged 4-9 years owned a Tracy Island play set. These boys are now adult men and this increased fan base will further bolster the success that ITVS GE is anticipating at retail in the UK and internationally, particularly in Japan where there is already a strong classic programme.
New licensees joining the fold include Titan Entertainment, which has signed a worldwide deal to produce a series of Classic Thunderbirds TITANS. Targeting the collectors’ market, these collectable manga-style vinyl figures (in various sizes and packaging formats) will be available through gift, high-end and speciality retailers from March 2015.
Jumbo Games has inked a deal for the UK and Ireland for adult puzzles. The range includes two collector’s edition gift boxes (comprising three 500 piece puzzles), Thunderbirds 50th anniversary 1000 piece puzzle and Thunderbirds Classic 1000 piece puzzle, all of which will utilise retro and iconic classic artwork. The first collector’s gift box will launch January 2015.
Modiphius is creating a Thunderbirds co-operative tabletop board game by award winning designer Matt Leacock (Pandemic, Forbidden Island, Forbidden Desert) that will launch in September 2015. A global deal (excluding some territories), the licensee will be using the crowd sourcing web site Kickstarter to harness the enthusiasm of the public to develop products and drive presales.
There are now 20 Thunderbirds Classic licensees in the UK and another 20+ internationally across key categories, including gifting (Paladone Products, Vibe Centre, Tartan Squirrel), alarm clocks & accessories (Bunkerbound) and figurines (Robert Harrop) as well as the popular Agents’ Technical Manual from Haynes Publishing. A range of special products and limited editions based on new artwork will launch in 2015.
Marketing activity will celebrate the brand’s heritage and nostalgia throughout the anniversary year and brand awareness will be heightened by the arrival in 2015 of the ground breaking new children’s series Thunderbirds are Go! on ITV and CITV.
Trudi Hayward, Senior Vice President, Global Head of Merchandise at ITVS GE says : “The 50-year history of the Thunderbirds Classic brand and its amazing, enduring heritage brings with it huge retail awareness and confidence, consumer loyalty and demand for new content and products that is genuine, organic and simply cannot be engineered. With our sights set on the milestone anniversary and a new television series in the pipeline for 2015, I’m in no doubt that Thunderbirds presents a compelling long term commercial opportunity for our partners and it is a brand that will endure for many more decades to come.”