The famous five power back

A new breed of Power Ranger is eyeing your money, warns

Every Saturday morning at around 9am, five American teenagers team up and save the world. These are no ordinary teenagers: these are the Power Rangers. But these are no ordinary Power Rangers either: they are the latest incarnation of the popular children's television characters - the Power Rangers Zeo. As any child up to the age of 11 will testify, the Power Rangers are an extremely potent force. But while their strength can be measured by their success in repelling the evil intergalactic intruders led by King Mondo and Queen Machina, they can also be measured in commercial terms. Take the Power Rangers away from the small screen and into big business and they morph into a mighty retail brand.

Global sales of Power Ranger merchandise have been running at around $1bn (pounds 625m) a year.

However, children are notoriously fickle, and yesterday's fad can easily become tomorrow's reject. That the Power Rangers are now in their fourth year in this country is some measure of their longevity. They have certainly defied the critics who dismissed them as one-minute wonders. That is in part due to the strength of the series, and in part due to some extremely skilful marketing and licensing.

In the UK the responsibility for licensing Power Rangers falls to Jackie Ferguson, managing director of Saban UK. It is Saban Entertainment in the US which produces the Power Rangers television series which represents the lifeblood of the merchandising initiative. A year or so ago that blood began to flow a little less readily. Toy sales of Power Ranger figures slumped in the US amid fears that the series was becoming a little jaded. Saban responded by killing off the old Power Rangers and replacing them with the new improved Power Rangers Zeo.

It was a moment of inspiration. The launch of the Zeo series on US television last year confirmed the show's top rating with young viewers, and, in turn, gave a new lease of life to the merchandising initiative.

Ms Ferguson believes that experience will be mirrored in the UK. New Zeo merchandise is already on the shop shelves, and the series premiered on terrestrial television a fortnight ago. She has already built an impressive list of licensees who will be using the Power Rangers Zeo on a range of products from shoes and socks to tinned pasta shapes and sausages.

She attributes the success of Power Rangers to its easy differentiation from the competition. Much children's programming is animation-based, whereas Power Rangers is live action which provides the audience with excitement and also creates the potential for role models. Parents may scoff at the notion that a bunch of teenagers in leotards can inspire a small child but there is no doubting the clear admiration in the mind of a four- year-old for the Red Ranger because he is the leader of the pack.

Whatever the reasons for its success, the one big challenge which faces Ms Ferguson is extending the product's durability. Her licensing campaign in the UK would make something of a textbook study. She has always trodden a careful balance between exposure and exclusivity. The quickest way to make money would be to grant licences to anyone and everyone. However, market saturation is also the quickest way to retire a product too early.

It may have been luck rather than judgement which ensured there was a shortage of Power Rangers toys in the shops for their first Christmas in Britain. There is no doubt, however, that shortage of a product enhances demand significantly. Other merchandise was also filtered in steadily, rather than in bulk.

This helped establish the credentials of the brand. However, one of Ms Ferguson's key roles is not to add new licences but to monitor existing ones. She is constantly reviewing consumer demand and checking to see that the right licensees are delivering the right products to meet the changing needs of the market. Originally, the typical Power Ranger audience was from six to 13 years of age. Now it is three to seven. That has the effect of dramatically changing the merchandise which will appeal, and the licensees must reflect this change.

The merchandise is therefore frequently reviewed, relationships with retailers strengthened and the concept is constantly promoted, often being strengthened by Establishment or corporate endorsement. The Power Rangers can now frequently be found at the centre of anti-drug campaigns.

With such a roaring success on her hands it would be easy for Ms Ferguson to sit back and admire her handiwork. This, she knows, is a recipe for disaster. She is acutely aware that the hunt is always on for new Power Rangers. Four years ago transatlantic audiences were blissfully unaware of their existence. Today they are part of child folklore.

When the challenge comes, Ms Ferguson will be there to meet it. With five of the world's toughest kids on her side, how can she possibly fail?

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
football
News
i100
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Report Writer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...

MBDA UK Ltd: Indirect Procurement Category Manager

Competitive salary & benefits!: MBDA UK Ltd: MBDA UK LTD Indirect Procurement...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£16500 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Finance compa...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall