SpongeBob Soaks LIMA License of the Year in Germany

SpongeBob SquarePants was named License of the Year at the November 2003 LIMA Awards in Munich, and its German marketer, Super RTL, won three of the six awards, including Licensing Agency of the Year and Promotion of the Year.

Among the other winners were Ferrero Happy Toys, which was named Trade Partner of the Year, and Hasbro’s Beyblade, the Licensed Product of the Year. The previous year’s winners included Sony’s feature film Spider-Man (Overall Best License of the Year) and Clifford the Big Red Dog (Best Character License of the Year).

LIMA, the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (www.licensing.org), said in recognition of SpongeBob SquarePants, “The award is for the brand that has been especially well received in the business, by retailers and by consumers. It should demonstrate an extraordinary success for the business in general, starting with the way it has been presented and handled by the Agency, the variety and success of the products, the retail presence, and through to the consumer reaction.”

SpongeBob SquarePants, the popular animated series about an eccentric sea sponge and his bizarre world of Bikini Bottom, is owned by Nickelodeon, a division of MTV Networks. It launched on German children’s network Super RTL in August 2002 and fast became a top-rated TV show for all ages as well as a hugely successful licensing property.

Super RTL generated widespread excitement on-air and off-air with special episodes and promos aired during prime-time slots, as well as with a national promotion giving away 54,000 SpongeBob “teeth” with a competition for the funniest SpongeBob impression online. 50,000 fans voted on 20,000 pictures posted on the German-language website http://www.spongebobschwammkopf.de/. That site is in addition to Super RTL’s popular TOGGO website, which hosts a SpongeBob microsite. Super RTL also distributed humorous postcards in universities, presented previews of show episodes in cinemas and launched a consumer PR campaign with celebrity tie-ins.

SpongeBob toys, games, and video games hit German retail shelves in April 2003, and the following autumn the market saw 140 products including videos, toiletries and a magazine with a print run of 130,000. 2004 will see an extended portfolio of puzzles, bags, water toys, candy, stickers, car accessories, posters and books. And in February Burger King will run a SpongeBob kids’ meal promotion throughout Germany.