“Mr. and Mrs. Brown first met Paddington on a railway platform. In fact, that was how he came to have such an unusual name for a bear, for Paddington was the name of the station.”These are the opening lines of the first book by a BBC television cameraman called Michael Bond, which over half a century later, would lead on to Paddington Bear winning an award for Britain’s Favourite Ever Animated Character.I imagine all of you will have heard of Paddington Bear but you may not necessarily know much else about him so, to give you some background I shall start with a potted history of how Paddington has come to where he is today.
Michael Bond was inspired to write “A Bear Called Paddington” after he bought a small bear for his wife on Christmas Eve 1956. He was living near Paddington Station at the time and thought it would make a good name for a character.The first book was an immediate best seller and so Michael Bond wrote more stories about his creation from Darkest Peru so that by the mid 1960s he was able to leave the BBC to become a full time writer.Michael Bond’s background in television meant that he had a particular interest in bringing Paddington to the small screen which is how the first FilmFair series came to be made and broadcast in 1975.At their peak, the 5 minute episodes with their award winning animation style were attracting audiences of up to 8 million viewers in the UK alone and this led on to a hugely successful programme of merchandising putting Paddington onto products from soft toys to china.However, Paddington’s popularity wasn’t limited to this country. The books were translated into many different languages, the television was aired throughout the world and the products were sold everywhere from Toronto to Tokyo.Although it is coming up for 54 years since the publication of the very first book, Paddington remains as popular as ever. Over 35 million copies of the books have been sold in more than 40 different languages and the television programmes have been shown in over 100 different countries around the world.So, in other words, Paddington has become a global brand with international appeal.So what is the secret behind Paddington’s long-termsuccess?
A question we often get asked is “How has Paddington managed to remain so popular?” and we attribute this to a number of factors:The first is that he has been built on solid foundations. Michael Bond didn’t set out to create a character for marketing purposes. He simply wrote because he wanted to write and consequently the Paddington books are successful in their own right.The second reason is that Paddington has always stayed in touch with his fans. Michael Bond personally replies to all of his fan mail and he once calculated that he spends one month of each year replying to all of the letters he receives.The third is that Paddington moves with the times. Although, technically speaking, he’s well on the way to his old age pension, in the stories he doesn’t age. However, the world around him changes so that as new technology is introduced, Paddington embraces it with both paws. And this doesn’t just apply to the stories. Behind the scenes we’ve also moved with the times so that Paddington had his own website long before many other licensed characters and, when the time seemed right, we started to use Facebook and Twitter.The fourth and final reason is that Paddington has maintained his integrity and we work very carefully to ensure that the way he is portrayed remains faithful to the character which Michael Bond created.
So how does all this relate to Social Media?When it comes to keeping in touch with Paddington’s fans, nothing could work better than Facebook and Twitter. Facebook, in particular, gives us the perfect opportunity to interact directly with the people who read the books, watch the television or collect Paddington Bear products.Although we have embraced this relatively new form of communication, we didn’t rush to jump on the bandwagon. It was important that Paddington had the right “voice” and so we spent a good deal of time deciding how he would speak to his fans. In the original television series, Paddington doesn’t actually speak directly – the stories are all narrated in the third person. So when it came to Social Media we decided that Paddington shouldn’t speak directly either but rather through the company which looks after his best interests. As we say on our Facebook and Twitter profiles, “Paddington was keen to do it himself until he discovered how difficult it is to type with paws”. This way we can effectively speak on his behalf without having to constantly refer back to Michael Bond for creative approval. Although he’s a fictitious bear, to his fans he’s a real bear living in the real world and so it’s important to maintain this illusion.And where does Meltwater Buzz come in?
There are two reasons that we use Buzz: for engaging and monitoringThe engaging function helps us to talk directly to Paddington’s fans in an efficient manner, whilst the monitoring functions allow us to find out what people are saying about Paddington, to pick up on stories which we might not know about otherwise and to analyse trends. I’m now going to show you one example of how Buzz has helped us to engage.
At the end of November last year a fan asked us on Facebook how we were going to mark Advent. At around the same time a number of other people had been commenting that they were disappointed that there wasn’t a 2012 Paddington calendar available to buy. So, we swung into action and lined up 24 suitable images of Paddington.Using the calendar facility on Buzz, we were able to set the whole thing up in advance. We timed the images to upload on a daily basis, together with suitable comments which told a simple story on each day, leading up to Christmas.
It was a huge hit with all of Paddington’s followers as everyone started looking forward to seeing the new photo each morning and finding out what Paddington had been up to the day before. The fact that we could upload the posts ahead of time made it really easy to do.Meanwhile the monitoring facilities on Buzz allow us to discover who is talking about Paddington.
Anybody who looks after a brand will know how important it is to find out what people are saying about it, good and bad, and Paddington is no exception.Generally most of the comments are positive but when people have a negative experience they are often keen to tell people about it. By monitoring social media conversations we can find out at grass roots level what people really think. And sometimes we can pick up very useful information such as product infringements.
Take this example which we found a couple of weeks ago. From our daily report we noticed that someone was tweeting about a Paddington lunch bag. We don’t currently have a licence for that particular item so we followed the link and found they were selling an unlicensed product using Paddington’s image. The details were passed to our agents and the necessary steps were taken to deal with the rights infringement.And then, just occasionally, a really big story involving Paddington hits the headlines and that’s where a platform such as Buzz really comes into its own.
Last month we picked up, via Buzz, that Paddington had been nominated for the award of “Favourite Ever British Animated Character” at the British Animations Awards. It was down to a public vote on Facebook and so we shared it with Paddington’s fans and were able to monitor the progress on a daily basis.
It soon become apparent that Paddington was going to be the runaway winner so that by the time the results were announced at the awards ceremony on 15th March we were all ready to go with the necessary announcements for our website, Facebook and Twitter, all timed to go live automatically once the embargo on the press announcement had been lifted.
These images from the Buzz analysis for the two weeks leading up to and including the day the news of the awards broke speaks for itself. For much of the day after the awards Paddington Bear was trending on Twitter and the volume of people talking about Paddington across all forms of social media increased more than 15-fold overnight.From the information gathered we found out that over 55 percent of followers of the story were male which was slightly surprising as our general belief is that Paddington has more of a female following. We could also see the geographical spread. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, a large proportion of our followers came from North America. However, we were interested to see that there were a significant number from Spain which isn’t traditionally a country where Paddington has a large following and that there were people talking about him in China, Russia and India.This is just one example but it shows the sort of useful marketing information that we’re able to pick up which is of huge importance when we’re planning ahead and looking to sell new licences.
There are so many other ways we use Facebook and Twitter, from running competitions to promoting new books and products, that Paddington finds the whole idea quite exhausting.I could go on indefinitely but I would hate to send you all to sleep like one certain young bear, so I hope this has at least given you a flavour of how Social Media is working for Paddington and, in particular how we use Buzz to help us.
The Story Behind Paddington • The first book was published almost 54 years ago in October 1958 • This was followed by the first television series in the mid-1970s • A successful merchandising programme developed out of this • The books have been translated into 40 languages, the tv series have aired in over 100 countries and products are sold worldwide • Paddington is a global brand with international appeal
Maintaining Paddington’s Popularity • Paddington’s success has been built on the foundation of the books • Paddington stays in touch with his fans • Paddington moves with the times • Paddington has kept his integrity
Paddington and Social Media• Facebook is an ideal way for Paddington to talk to his fans• Finding the right “voice” for Paddington was of key importance• Paddington was keen to do it himself until he discovered how difficult it is to type with paws!
Paddington and BuzzWe use Buzz for engaging and monitoring. It helps us to:• Talk to Paddington’s fans in an efficient manner• Find out what people are saying about Paddington• Pick up on new stories• Analyse trends
Engaging With Paddington’s Fans • We chose 24 different images of Paddington • Using the calendar function on Buzz we timed each one to upload on a daily basis • Each photo told a simple story leading up to Christmas
Engaging With Paddington’s Fans • The Advent calendar was a huge hit with all of Paddington’s followers • Everyone started looking forward to seeing the new photo each morning • Many people shared the story and our fan base increased
Listening to Paddington’s FansDear Paddington, Id Your stories are my all-like to know if you plan time favourite and Ito visit your homeland couldnt begin to i always lovedPeru. I hope you can imagine my life without you paddingtonvisit. Darkest Peru isnt Paddington. xxdarkest anymore. Soy peruano como Hello! Quick question - has a Paddington, me alegro 2012 Paddington calendar por el cariño que le been published? Im desperately seeking one for tienen al osito ;) my grandma! Thanks. saludos desde Perú :)
Picking Up Useful InformationAn extract from our daily report …. … led us to this page
Keeping Ahead of the NewsWe picked up this story … … and shared it with Paddington’s fans