Principals: Andy Mooney, chairman, Disney Consumer Products; Lisa Avent, VP of TV licensing, DCP
Licensees include: Mattel for toys, Hallmark for party goods, Franco for home decor, Random House for publishing
The story: A made-for-TV movie that launched on the Disney Channel in January 2006, “High School Musical” was the surprise junior-high-school frenzy of the year, with tween girls falling hard for hunky leading boy Troy Bolton (Zac Efron).
But this is all a bit more serious than puppy love. The soundtrack placed No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 100 of 2006; a sold-out 41-city concert tour ran through the holiday season; the “High School Musical” novel reached No. 1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list of children’s books.
T-shirts shipped out quickly. By holiday 2006, “I heart Troy” handbags and totes were available, followed in spring by hot pink logo bedding. MP3 video and audio players and digital cameras led the gadgetry. And in a genius combination of elements, a pillow with speakers that connect to an iPod has been developed.
Big sellers have been stationery items going for $5 to $12.50, launched in late 2006. And more than 1,200 licenses have been sold to high schools and small theater companies to stage the show themselves.
The crush continues with a sequel premiering on Disney Channel this August and a feature film slated for 2008.
POV: “It’s a new phenomenon for us,” says Jim Fielding, exec VP, Disney Global retail sales and marketing. “We’ve never had a live-action Disney Channel movie spawn a franchise like this has. … We had credibility with this consumer demographic, but I think ‘High School Musical’ pushed us over the top and made us the destination for this demographic.”