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Best Brands to make Sad Sam line

Cecile Corral, Gary Evans -- Home Textiles Today, March 12, 2001

NEW YORK -Home textiles manufacturer Best Brands and Giordano Art Ltd. have entered into a licensing agreement to create bedding, bath, beach towel and tabletop collections for the Sad Sam & Honey license.

The partnership marks a first for both companies: Best Brands' first bedding and bath collection for a juvenile license and Giordano's first home collection for its Sad Sam license.

"I think the character Sad Sam has a lot of emotion and sentiment and is a very loveable character, along with Honey his girlfriend and his other Sad-Eyed friends," said Jack Albert, president of Best Brands. "Everybody who sees him or touches him likes him. I think we can interpret the characters very well on bedding and bath product."

Product for the bedding, bath and tabletop lines are "still being developed. [The characters] are cute and loveable, so we are going to build on that," said Cari Barnett, Best Brands product manager. The bedding line will include a bed-in-a-bag set for $49.99 (twin) to $79.99 (king) and the Bedtime Buddy snuggle pillows, which are "key" to the collection, Barnett said, because they are a special, added children's accessory to the bedding line. Price points have not yet been set for the Bedtime Buddies.

The bath line will include bath, hand and wash ensembles from $9.99 to $19.99, as well as large beach towels.

For tabletop, Best Brands is creating interactive place mats and tablecloths on which children can color with crayons. Barnett said all the lines will be made for mass and specialty merchants.

Introductions are scheduled for July and August and product rollout is primarily scheduled for spring 2002.

"We'll also try to capture some [placement] for the fourth quarter 2001, if we can," Albert said.

Best Brands is also the licensee of children's book publisher Golden Books for tabletop products. But the plush couple, Sad Sam & Honey, and their Sad-Eyed friends represent Best Brands' first entry into the licensed juvenile and tween market.

"Our retail partners are always looking for something to add value and dimension, not only with kids" Albert said. "We think this could go up to tweens and even young adults. I see my wife and my six-year-old hugging the Sad Sam [stuffed animal] my son has."

The Sad Sam license generates an average of $22 million annually for Giordano, Barnett said. The Sad Sam character was created more than 20 years ago by artist Joe Giordano.

"It's an unsung hero," she said. "Consumer response is very high, especially with the Hispanic market."

Barnett reinforced that because of the license's nature-innocent, sad-eyed but yet romantic because of the girlfriend/boyfriend relationship between Sad Sam and Honey-the new bedding, bath and tabletop lines will be popular not just in the juvenile but also the tween markets.

"There are two types of tweens: the ones that go with the big entertainment licenses and those who are more innocent. Sad Sam is the opposite of Britney Spears, making it perfect for those tweens who are more innocent," Barnett said.

Giordano, which traditionally licenses its properties to greeting card and gift companies, waited almost two decades to expand its program to include home products. Last holiday season for the first time Giordano licensed some of its seasonal and lodge-like characters to decorative pillow manufacturer Riverdale, based in Montgomery, AL.

"They flew off the store shelves, and we realized that home products work for us," Barnett said. "So now people want to see more. That's why we partnered with Best Brands."

Giordano expects to soon expand its Sad Sam license and other licenses into other home categories, including wallpaper, lamps, furniture.

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