Tuesday 3 June 2014

A Lucrative Cartoon Sideline

Below you see some Hanna-Barbera characters you should recognise.

The photo accompanies an article of the May 27, 1963 edition of Sponsor magazine entitled “Does TV merchandising help build high ratings?”

As you’ve seen from pictures of dolls, games, toys, tablecloths and whatever on this blog, Hanna-Barbera and Screen Gems didn’t wait too long to get their cartoon characters into the market once the studio was set up. Let me go through the article and snip together the bits which mentioned H-B Productions.

From the viewpoint of a toy or game manufacturer, a tie-in with a popular national tv show can be a most desirable arrangement. Such a tie-in is likely to get the manufacturer’s product on store shelves in the first place, and into the hands of consumers soon thereafter. ...
Merchandising tie-ins are the largest single sideline of the tv industry, and will amount this year—in terms of retails sales, particularly at Christmas—to a whopping $300 million.
Merchandise not only stems from high viewership but helps to maintain it, and a large audience for a show naturally means better exposure for commercials:
● An Ideal Toy Corp. replica of “Pebbles,” the 12-week-old baby of The Flintstones is selling at the rate of 28,000 weekly. These dolls are an obvious tune-in reminder in tv household and in many cases help to add viewers.
● Merchandising gimmicks—from bars of sculptured soap to balloons, by way of toys, games, costumes and coloring books—and credited with almost single-handedly maintaining viewership in Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear. ...
● Items connected with tv shows are numerous enough to make merchandising sample rooms look like department stores: Screen Gems “store” alone is filled with more than 7,500 items. ...
Networks generally merchandise only about half of their shows. Non-network merchandising firms handle most of the reminder. The latter firms include: Screen Gems (Hanna Barbera characters) ...
Screen Gems, tv opposite number to Walt Disney’s movie tie-ins, is perhaps the largest single merchandiser involved principally with tv programs, each year licensing items worth about $100 million in sales. ...
Fictional comic characters are considered best for merchandising. Toys of Hanna-Barbera characters sell “extremely well.” About 100 items for The Flintstones alone have been licensed. SG probably makes more profit from merchandising than it does from any other non-program activity. ...
Merchandising success usually goes hand-in-hand with ratings success. Pebbles, one of the best merchandising ideas of the year, is a good example. Conceived purely for sales purposes, the new Flintstone baby has not only sold well since its birth on 22 February, but helped to rocket ratings from around 20 to a steady 25. ...
Some syndicated tv shows have aroused wide popular interest—and long-term sales benefits. Hanna-Barbera’s Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, and Quick Draw McGraw, all syndicated, are good examples. “WTOL-TV Day” in Toledo zoo last year featuring Yogi and his friends, draw a record crowd of 63,700. Sales of the toys are high.

To be honest, I don’t know who was crediting toys and so on with “almost single-handedly maintaining viewership” of Huck and Yogi. I’d think the enjoyment of the cartoons was responsible. The article even admitted there were shows, like “Father of the Bride,” which were a merchandising success but that didn’t translate into viewers.

Still, despite the games, toys, dolls and so on being created purely for monetary reasons, they did give people who loved the cartoons a chance to enjoy them in a different way when the TV set was off. They did something far better than bring profits. They brought fun.


  1. I recognize the characters, but who is the guy in the picture?

  2. 6/5/14
    RobGems.ca Wrote:
    The unknown guy you questioned about the credit of the toy promotions & setting up the character viewership of Yogi & Huck..... Was it Ed Justin?