The return of Pocoyo: a European plan to dethrone “Paw Patrol” and “Peppa Pig”

A decade ago, Pocoyo’s blue hat was everywhere: it was a children’s sensation, it won awards and it sold toys. It is not completely gone, but in 2023 it is not close to the top 3 of “Paw Patrol”, “Cocomelon” and “Peppa Pig”, now in American hands. The French company that has acquired its rights seeks to change it.

“We want to reinvent Pocoyó for the next generation, for the next 20 or 30 years” and put it “where it should be, at the top of the industry,” Grégory Dray, founder of the company Animaj, which aspires to become one of the big players in the global animation industry in the coming years.

“There are not many brands that have lasted 20 years (the creation of Pocoyó dates back to 2003). Even with the lack of investment in recent years, its reputation remains very high,” he adds.

In love with the boy in the blue hat

Dray fell in love with Pocoyó when he ran YouTube Kids – the section of the digital platform focused on children and families – so it was clear to him that the boy with the blue hat would be the central pillar when he launched his own company to challenge the American giants from Europe. from the industry, such as Nickelodeon.

“It’s not a good sign to have just one view of the world,” says Dray, especially when there are “European brands that are incredible but haven’t reached the next level” simply due to lack of marketing.

Last June, consequently, Animaj concluded the deal for the rights to Pocoyó with the Spanish company Zinkia – which had a history damaged by internal business ups and downs – and began to prepare the shock plan to revive the Spanish franchise.

Zinkia will still release a fifth season of Pocoyó, which is already prepared, and the stage with the Animaj label will begin from the sixth.

A sister for Pocoyó and the return of García Carsí

The French company’s strategy includes a film, spin-off series, podcasts, books and live Pocoyo events, but also new characters, such as a little sister of the protagonist. Animaj offices will also be opened in Madrid to preserve Pocoyó’s “DNA,” because he is a “symbol of Spanish cultural excellence,” according to Dray.

Furthermore, Animaj now reveals another trump card in the plan: the return to the project, after a decade, of Guillermo García Carsí, co-creator of the Pocoyó universe with David Cantolla and Luis Gallego.

“He is a genius (…) Guillermo is the one who had Pocoyo in his blood,” says Dray about the one who was also the director of seasons 1 and 2, which were the ones that accumulated the most awards.

For his part, García Carsí, who in recent times has been involved in the project of the Spanish mobile application for educational content Lingokids, confesses that he wants to get out of his drawers the Pocoyó stories that he was never able to turn into reality.

“I create the characters and their personalities and I direct the first two seasons. But I’m leaving before the second season ends and that’s where the total success begins. I have lived it a bit as an ‘outsider’ (from the outside),” García Carsí explains to EFE.

At the time, he walked away from Pocoyo because he felt that “they were pushing him a little” and because after having done more than a hundred episodes “he was tired creatively.”

Maintain the original essence

For this new stage, García Carsí plans to be “more ambitious” and not simply repeat what he already did, but he plans to maintain the original essence – “it comes naturally to me,” he promises – that has managed to create Pocoyó fans all over the world, not only in Spain.

Proof of the character’s great reputation, Dray points out, is that the Italian Chiara Ferragni, considered the “first influencer”, this year set a birthday party for her children with Pocoyó cakes.

Both Dray and García Carsí believe that the natural site of Pocoyó has to be on the world podium of children’s animated series and they are optimistic about achieving it. Animaj, in fact, wants to move into the “top 10” of the industry, if not among the five largest, within a period of four years.

The French company, based in Paris, has so far raised 100 million euros in financing, between its own resources and loans for the first acquisitions, and is backed by international investment funds, such as the American Left Lane Capital, the French Daphni and the Franco-German XAnge.

“We have a lot to offer the world,” not just “selling dolls,” but promoting “values ​​of respect and tolerance from a young age,” Dray promises.

By Ch Fahad Khan Janda