Principals: Greg Daniels, series exec producer; Kim Niemi, senior VP of video, music and product development, NBC Universal Television; Cindy Chang, VP of worldwide business development, Universal Studios Consumer Products Group; Debbie Luner, VP of worldwide marketing and brand management, USCPG
Licensees include: Corbis, Hallmark, Andrews McNeel, IndiaGames, Mumbo Jumbo and others
The story: A unique relationship with consumers distinguishes this boutique program from bigger, more traditional merchandising approaches.
NBC Universal Television Distribution has worked with “Office” producer Reveille Prods. on a line of apparel and novelty products sold exclusively at NBC’s online shop nbcuniversalstore.com and Experience storefront in New York.
Three seasons into “The Office’s” Stateside run on the Peacock, the merchandising focus is on what Jeffrey Rotenberg, the Experience Store’s marketing director, terms “connector” products — items imported directly from the workaday world of Dunder Mifflin, the show’s fictional paper company. Fan favorites include the bobblehead figurine of Dwight Schrute that the uberachiever himself (Rainn Wilson) received as a Valentine’s Day gift in season two ($19), and the terry bathrobe that boss Michael Scott (Steve Carell) wore proudly in season three’s holiday episode ($65).
While NBC employs the “connector” approach with other top shows like “Friday Night Lights” and “Heroes,” “The Office” remains its leading merchandising property.
Rotenberg says the NBC U/Reveille team is readying by-audience-request bobblehead versions of the entire “Office” cast as well as a replica “Dundie Award” trophy.
“Office” exec producer Daniels notes that NBC and Reveille together pull product ideas from the show’s dailies. “The fun,” he says, “is trying to get the merchandise ready in time for the airing of the episode.”
As the property enters the general licensing market, Universal Consumer Products Group partners include Basic Fun for talking keychains and pens, MJC for young men’s and juniors’ T-shirts, Corbis and Hallmark for greeting cards, and Andrews McNeel Publishing for a 2008 day-to-day calendar.
On the interactive side of the biz, Universal Mobile Entertainment licensee IndiaGames is developing a follow-up for its “NBC’s The Office” mobile game, which launched across U.S. carriers last June. Meanwhile, casual games publisher Mumbo Jumbo, in collaboration with Universal Pictures’ digital platforms group, will release a game based on the show this fall for online download as well as Sony’s PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo DS.
POV: “What we’re doing is more organic to the show than what typical licensing would be,” Niemi says. “You’re not going to see just a (show) logo on a shirt. It’s less about quantity and more about things that really resonate with the fans.”