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MSNBC: Simpsons Evolves into Industry

Simpsons News — Posted 09 Nov, 2003 by Scott

“D’oh!”? Perhaps it really should be “Dough!” With original shows in production, several reruns a day in syndication and thousands of items that now feature the faces and voices of its unforgettable characters, “The Simpsons” is an industry unto itself.

Fox has harnessed a whole realm of “Simpsons” licensing opportunities over the years. Unlike most movies and TV shows, which get an initial rush of interest in branded merchandise before fading into obscurity, “The Simpsons” has provided endless fodder for manufacturers and retailers.
Some 500 companies around the world are licensed to put “Simpsons” faces on everything from action figures to cereal — and 96 percent renew their contracts. Major retail brands like Burger King and Butterfinger, which came back for new deals after a hiatus, can’t get enough of “Simpsons” tie-ins. A line of “Simpsons” pet toys just launched at Target; a recent video game, “The Simpsons: Hit and Run,” remains a big hit; and Brunswick just signed a deal for a “Simpsons” bowling ball and bowling leagues at its 109 alleys. Like other companies, it hopes to harness the show’s ageless appeal and signal a promise of family fun. “It’s an excellent match,” says Don Jones, Brunswick’s director of retail marketing.
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