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Tuesday, 25 June, 2002, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
NYC licenses toy cops and firefighters
President George W Bush with rescue workers
New York's rescue workers are national heroes

New York City's Police and Fire Departments have moved into the commercial licensing business in a big way to stop the exploitation of their hero-like status.


We have FDNY water, which is just spring water with the fire dept logo. It's selling quite well. We can't even estimate how big the market is but we think you are talking hundreds of millions of dollars

Stephen Ruznow
FDNY
This week, for the first time, both departments are exhibitors at the annual trade show for the international licensing business, Licensing 2002 International.

Since 11 September, unauthorised vendors and manufacturers have made millions of dollars selling toys, T-shirts and baseball caps showing the copy-righted logos of the FDNY (Fire Department of New York) and NYPD (New York Police Department).

Now the firefighters and policemen are determined to reverse this situation and ensure their popularity is not blantantly commercialised.

Fire sale

Tired of unauthorised vendors profiting from its hero status and its official logo, the FDNY recently signed more than a dozen licensing deals.

Among these are a toy deal with Fisher Price and a contract to manufacture reproductions of firefighter gear.

Billy Blazes
Fisher Price's 'model' fire fighter

"You have authentic reproductions of FDNY apparatus, you have the Billy Blazes dolls and we have new items that Fisher Price is coming out with - the dalmation [US spelling of the dog breed used in US fire stations as both mascot and to track down smoke] and the paramedic - and these are all new and will be coming out at Christmas," Stephen Ruznow, the FDNY representative who brokered many of the deals.

"Then we have FDNY water, which is just spring water with the fire dept logo. It's selling quite well. We can't even estimate how big the market is but we think you are talking hundreds of millions of dollars," he adds.

Charitable profits

Toys like Billy Blazes the Firefighter, which was licensed by the FDNY and is manufactured by Fisher Price, have already made millions for the partners.

The Fire Department says it expects to receive a royalty of 15% of retail sales of the various products it has licensed so far.

This should amount to several million dollars a year, most of which will go towards various charitable ventures, the department says.

Determined not to be left out of pocket, the NYPD has signed more than 19 licensing deals with manufacturers of items such as a stuffed animal line, and baseball caps and T-shirts with the official NYPD logo.

Taking advantage

Charles Riotti, president of the International Licensing Industry Merchandiser's Association, the main sponsor of the licensing trade show, says it would be naive of the Fire and Police departments not to take advantage of their hero-like status since 11 September.

"You know we work and we live in the real world and marketing is a viable thing that we deal with everyday," he said.

"Licensing is a strategic tool for marketing. The fact that a not-for-profit organization is promoting itself is I think okay."

Both the police and the firefighter say they had been discussing licensing programs before 11 September.

Now, both departments are considering assigning international licensing rights, and the fire department even wants to branch into home furnishings and children's wear.

See also:

12 May 02 | Entertainment
24 Sep 01 | Americas
17 Oct 01 | Entertainment
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