This March, “Simon’s Cat,” the British animated series revolving around a mischievous portly house cat and its long-suffering owner, Simon, celebrates its 10th anniversary with new licensing deals with Isaac Morris Ltd. featuring over 200 products, including character-themed apparel, homeware, electronic devices, toys, and puzzles.
Seen on YouTube in more than 100 countries with almost 1 billion views, the series has made a splash in North America, where it maintains its largest digital audience of all markets global-wide. Created in 2007 by award-winning illustrator, animator, and director Simon Tofield, “Simon’s Cat” boasts 11 million followers across social media platforms and reached 1.8 billion people through Facebook in 2017.
“‘Simon’s Cat’s’ loveable characters and the relatable themes in the TV series have clearly resonated with the U.S. audience,” said Tamaya Petteway, Endemol Shine North America’s senior vice president of brand and licensing partnerships. “Many leading brands have taken notice and the response from U.S. licensors speaks to the power of the series’ universal appeal.”
It’s this reliability — not to mention the inherent humor of felines — that Tofield credits for “Simon’s Cat’s” success.
“I have lived with cats since I was nine, so have amassed a wealth of comic material from them over the years,” said Tofield, who based the series on one tiny black kitten named Hugh. “Although most of the [films] will be from my imagination, I always try to put lots of observed cat behavior in there, too. I think this leads to a lot of people recognizing their own pet within the films and it endears them to the character. In fact, some fans can get very protective of the character as they feel they kind of own him themselves, which is nice.”
While different cultures have varying levels of appreciation for cays, Tofield said traveling the world to meet fans has enabled him not only to forge a connection with fans, but engender a greater understanding of what they are looking for in an animated series.
“I have been fortunate enough though the success of the films to actually travel to a few countries and meet the fans,” he said. “I always love doing this as people are so warm and positive about the character and his antics. After sitting in a dark room with a talented team creating these stories, it’s always nice to see and hear people react to them in the flesh. It’s very heart warming and reminds you that all those long hours are worth it. What I have found, no matter the country of origin, is that cat owners love to give me their stories and accounts of their own cats and dogs. I have a huge passion for cats and it’s lovely to meet other likeminded people.”