By Paul McGann, Managing Partner at Brass

A surprising Radio Times survey this week has just named Shaun the Sheep the most popular BBC children’s character of the last seven decades. Over 40,000 votes were cast and readers chose the fluffy fella from Wallace & Gromit the winner ahead of classics like The Wombles, Postman Pat, Pingu, Bagpuss, Bob the Builder and Paddington Bear.

Now I’m sure we all have our own personal favourites, (The Clangers in my case) but as marketers we should pay close attention to these types of surveys. They reflect the tastes of families across the nation and give a valuable insight into our changing viewing habits. And these characters are now much more than just a 30 minute TV show or film. They infuse every part of the household, from posters on bedroom walls to duvets and soft toys; from merchandise like lunchboxes and cups to mobile games and apps.

Brands know the power of a great association and those looking for a short term lift can do a lot worse than tie up with the latest children’s character or ‘must watch’ movie. Over the last decade or so I’ve seen hundreds, with one of the most memorable being Ribena’s Win a Donkey for Shrek 2. The highly original and quirky top prize of a real life donkey (living in a sanctuary) certainly ensured standout on shelf! Plus there were inflatable donkeys for those that didn’t want to clean up the mess!

This Autumn will see Paddington Bear return in a new movie and Warburtons have been quick to put the bear character on pack across a range of their Half & Half products. In a bold step they have even rebranded to Warbeartons! Paddington will be on tour in his own bus, meeting families, making marmalade sandwiches and sharing recipes.

So how do you pick a golden goose from a turkey?

My 5 tips for success:

· Brand fit: Make sure brand and character share stature and are bigger together.

· Shared audience: May seems OBVS but make sure you are targeting the same families.

· Read the script: This summer’s Postman Pat the movie featured laser eyed cats and robotic postmen in a stretch too far from the wholesome original.

· Money can’t buy: There will be plethora of licensed merchandise available so please make sure your brand offers something different.

· Have fun: We really want to be entertained!