It was Mickey Mouse who started it all. Back in 1934, the iconic cartoon mouse generated $600,000 in merchandise sales for its creator, Walt Disney – a staggering sum for the era. Although it was during the Great Depression, Disney was able to save his struggling film company and his business partners from bankruptcy – including the Ingersoll-Waterbury Clock Company, maker of the first Mickey Mouse watches.
It wasn’t until 1978, however, that the modern age of movie merchandising really took off. George Lucas cashed in on the trend with $2.6 billion worth of the collectible toys he sold based on his original Star Wars trilogy.
For the first time in history, a movie producer partnered with a toy company (in this case, a young company called Kenner) to create little 3 3/4″ high collectible “action figures” as well as assorted Star Wars toys, books, lunch boxes, backpacks, etc. (My kids’ rooms were filled with these!) Even the popular TV sitcom Modern Family recently featured a discussion between Mitchell and Cam about their favourite Luke Skywalker collectible – “Luke wearing the shorty robe”.
But today, the release of a new movie includes the launch of corporate partnerships that not only sell action figures, but help push over-the-counter drugs for children. Continue reading