Skip to main content

Supplies: Popular shows, movies lead way


For years, licensed back-to-school product has been dominated by SpongeBob SquarePants, but newer franchises are now taking the lead and their logos are all over products ranging from crayon sets to backpacks and tote bags.

One of the best examples is “Cars,” the 2006 animated film from Disney and Pixar that’s become a merchandise machine for Disney. The studio expects “Cars” product to generate more than $2 billion in sales this year and exceed the total from 2006 when the movie was in theaters.

“‘Cars’ has just been an incredible property for us and has already turned into an evergreen,” said Ron Johnson, vp of sales at Wal-Mart. “People really find the characters endearing and they’ve connected with kids and moms.”

The new product line for “Cars” back-to-school includes tote bags and back-packs along with a full line of stationery, sticky notes and pencils that carry logos and images of favorite “Cars” characters from the movie like Lightning McQueen.

Disney also has new “Pirates of the Caribbean” product due out this month for kids returning to school. The lineup includes notebooks, study kits, portfolios and letter sets priced from $1.25 to $5.99 at Target, Wal-Mart and other retailers. And in the publishing area, the studio is coming out with “Pirates of the Caribbean—The Secret Files of the East India Trading Company,” a book featuring stories of a young Jack Sparrow’s first crew.

For girls, Disney has a full line of stationer y based on franchises like “Disney Fairies,” “Cheetah Girls,” “High School Musical” and “Hannah Montana.” The lineup features product such as locking diaries, journals with floating charms and magnetic notepads. In related areas, Disney has “High School Musical” and “Hannah Montana” lunch boxes and lunch kits, “Disney Princess” Enchanted Golden Backpacks and Tinker Bell backpacks.

Nickelodeon continues to churn out dozens of new products under the SpongeBob banner along with new items for “Dora the Explorer.” They include new Dora rolling backpacks and totes along with dozens of new paperback books and activity sets.

For shoppers who want to keep in touch with kids returning to school, a company called Kajeet has pre-paid cell phones made by LG Electronics and Sanyo that range in price from $49 to $99. The colorful phones come with no activation or termination fees and are designed for first-time cell phone users.

“Our target audience is ages 8 to 14 and our big point of differentiation is that we make phones designed for kids,” said Chris Storbeck, senior vp of sales for Kajeet. “All of our phones have full features like text messaging and they’re designed with lots of input from kids.”

However, the phones are not completely kid-friendly. Storbeck says the phones have a built-in ‘time manager’ feature that allows parents to manage how often and when kids use the phone.

“The time management feature allows parents to deactivate the phone during set hours, like from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. during school.”

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds