Here come the 'Downton Abbey' products
The international hit TV show is spinning off lines of jewelry, Christmas ornaments, wine and even house paint.
The historical British TV drama "Downton Abbey" is about to enter its fourth season as an acclaimed global hit. The series outlines the joys and travails of an aristocratic English family and their servants in early 20th-century Britain, and according to the U.K.'s Mail Online has been seen by an estimated 120 million people worldwide in over 220 territories.
Downton Abbey's new season begins next month on British TV and in January on PBS in the U.S. But in the meanwhile, brand marketers have been busy bees, getting ready with a variety of Downton Abbey product lines for the show's legions of fans.
So, along with DVDs of the program, consumers on both sides of The Pond and elsewhere can now buy a wide spectrum of program-related merchandise. Some are tastefully prepared, others perhaps not as much.
According to The Associated Press, U.K. retail chain Marks & Spenser (MAKSF) is unveiling a "Downton Abbey" line of beauty products that are "whimsically packaged and adorned with quotations from the series, including the advice offered by Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess of Grantham in the first episode: 'No one wants to kiss a girl in black.'"
Meanwhile, Knockout Licensing, which is handling the program's merchandising in Canada and the U.S., is working on deals for Downton-themed jewelry and Christmas ornaments later this year, and perhaps even a line of dolls.
London-based paint company Mylands, which supplies the Downton Abbey sets with "historically accurate pigments," has launched several program-related colors for the public.
And if you want to drink like the show's Lord and Lady Grantham, North American fans can soon enjoy a "Downtown" red wine -- a French claret, marketed by the incongruously named "Wines That Rock," a California company that has also come up with branded wines for Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones.
Gareth Neame, the show's executive producer and head of the NBC Universal (CMCSA)-owned Carnival Films production company, oversees and personally approves all merchandized items, and he says his group hasn't rushed into the commercial side of the TV drama.
"I don't have a nervous attitude about the idea of merchandising," he told AP. "When a show is this global and this loved, I don’t see any problem with offering products to hardened fans who want to extend their relationship with the show that they love."
I can see the Xmas ornaments being a hit, and the wine will sell to curiosity seekers, but the rest, ho-hum. I like the show and will watch every episode, but I'm not about to paint my house because they came out with DA colors.
A line of china would probably sell well.
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Reports say the generous benefactor behind the huge gratuities is a former PayPal executive.
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