Kids’ brands get a makeover

Mipcom shows signs of change on young TV

CANNES — Postman Pat has got a promotion and revamp, the Bionic Woman has turned dark and sultry, and Enid Blyton’s Famous Five have all had kids, spawning a fresh Five ready for a new series of 2-D animated adventures.

Walking around Mipcom, it’s difficult not to notice familiar kids’ brands being revamped and recycled for the next generation. 

Produced and distributed by Paris-based Marathon, “The Famous Five” (26 x 26 animated series) has proved a powerful draw for buyers. Many have read the books, which have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide since Blyton started writing them in the 1940s. 

“We haven’t had to sell this, people are coming to us,” says “Five” producer David Michel, alluding to the key appeal of old brands — familiarity. Entertainment Rights agrees. It’s at Mipcom selling much-loved children’s characters in new shows, including “Postman Pat,” “Rupert the Bear,” “Where’s Waldo,” “Transformers” and “George of the Jungle.”

“There’s something great about people knowing your content. It helps you cut through the mess and the crowded market,” says Jane Smith, Entertainment Rights chief. “And there’s an emotional connection if you’re a parent — a feeling of passing something down to your kids.”

Most characters come from the pre-vidgame era when books were a primary source of entertainment.

Now a brand can move between TV, books, games, web and movies. U.K. rights company, Chorion, which holds the Enid Blyton copyright, plans to launch a new series of “Famous Five” books based on Marathon’s handiwork. 

Of course, parents won’t always recognize their childhood faves in their oh-so-cool reincarnations.

Postman Pat’s newly acquired helicopter license means he’s likely to swoop in to the sorting office James Bond-style in a faster-paced storyline. 

Rupert the Bear has had his darker storylines brightened up for a new pre-school aud. Still sporting his familiar checked scarf and pants, older fans of the 85-year-old icon won’t recognize his cute and cuddly facial features.