NEW YORK — Retailers are soaking up sales with SpongeBob SquarePants.
While some licensed bath and personal care items are sinking in sales, the SpongeBob character, made popular by the hit Nickelodeon cartoon show, is selling cleanly at chains such as Wal-Mart, Rite Aid and Target.
Marketed by MZB Personal Care, a division of MZ Berger & Co., the SpongeBob personal care collection consists of four items — two bubble baths, a shampoo and a lip balm. Flavors are inspired by the show, such as Jelly Berry bubble bath and Oceanfruit shampoo. There will also be gift and toothbrush sets for the holidays. Prices range from $3.50 to about $8.
"SpongeBob is blowing out and selling even better than expected," said Debbie Baker, president of MZB Personal Care.
SpongeBob is the number-one TV show for broadcast or cable for children 2 to 11, according to MZB. More than 48 million viewers tune in each month to see SpongeBob and his pals. SpongeBob merchandise — ranging from T-shirts to macaroni and cheese — account for sales exceeding $600 million, according to industry estimates. A SpongeBob film is also in the works for 2004.
SpongeBob is just that — a sponge who lives in a "pineapple under the sea" in a town called Bikini Bottom where he works at the Krusty Krab diner. His buddies include Patrick, a starfish; Sandy Cheeks, a squirrel from Texas; Squidward and his employer Mr. Krabs.
One of the reasons Baker believes the licensed personal care items have been so strong is that the character fits snugly with the category. To hammer that home, one of the bubble baths even has a cap on top where kids can blow bubbles.
The lineup also has the strength of MZ Berger company behind it. MZ Berger has vast experience in licensing with watches from Via Spiga, Hello Kitty, Gruen and Elgin. The company even offers a SpongeBob clock. MZ Berger decided to extend its expertise in licensing into personal care last year with the creation of the new division.
MZB Personal Care also has licensing rights for NASCAR, VeggieTales (currently getting a lift from a theatrical release), Blues Clues and Dora the Explorer.Retailers have always struggled with how much of a commitment to make to licensed products. Too often, hopes pegged on a movie release fall flat if consumers don’t flock to the film. However, there are characters buyers rely on and several sources said SpongeBob has the appeal to become a classic license. Sales of licensed personal care items exceed $5 billion per year.
Other personal care licenses on retail shelves include Scooby Doo, Bob the Builder, Harry Potter and Disney. Care Bears, Fairly Odd Parents and Strawberry Shortcake are expected to join those characters in the personal care department early next year.
Licenses are sure sweet for another company — Lotta Luv. Lotta Luv, which markets cosmetics in packages based on popular candy such as Tootsie Roll, Blow Pops, Charms and Junior Mints, is getting sweet distribution. Walgreens, Claire’s, CVS and Limited, Too, are among the companies putting large racks of the delectable cosmetics on display. Walgreens in particular has a huge commitment with 176 items merchandised. Even uptown’s tasty Dylan’s Candy Bar is planning a revolving display of Lotta Luv’s beauty items, according to Steph Fogelson, Lotta Luv’s president, who also hopes to expand the concept into bath and body.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews