Sunday, August 17, 2014

New Life for Lassie the Iconic Brand

Lassie became part of mainstream pop culture in the early 1940s, when the movie Lassie, Come Home was a big box-office hit, based on the popular Saturday Evening Post story.

After a profitable film career, Lassie arrived on the little screen as a 1950s TV series that lasted for nearly 20 years--and episodes may still be playing in reruns somewhere on the planet. Descendants of the original "Lassie" (real name: Pal) have portrayed the character for decades. Because Lassie is trademarked, any dog in the role must, legally, have four white paws and a sable-brown body, a white blaze atop the nose, and a lush collar of white fur.

These days, Lassie the iconic brand is looking for new life. Owned since 2012 by DreamWorks Animation, Lassie has been making the rounds of media outlets to attract attention and keep the brand in the public eye, even if this is "the world's most famous dog."

According to research commissioned by DreamWorks, Lassie has very high brand recognition among US consumers and is associated with attributes like loyalty. Nielsen's research shows that 70% of the respondents to a survey in China recognized the Lassie brand (iconic, indeed).

The previous owner of the Lassie brand had recent licensing deals with pet-food manufacturers and dog accessory marketers. But is Lassie the 21st-century brand relevant in a digital world where LOL Cats take center stage? Can Lassie bring home the big bucks for DreamWorks in the form of merchandising and licensing? Stay tuned.

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