After 40 years, Sesame Street still sells

A TMX Elmo


Scott Jagow: Do you know what went on the air 40 years ago today?

Sesame Streeter: Hi there! Would you like to sing a song with us?

Monster: Mnah mnah.

Sesame Streeter: Isn't that the name of a song?

Kid: I think so.

Monster: Mnah mnah.

Sesame Streeter: Mnah mnah?

Sesame Street is not only the longest running children's TV show, but its toys are still big sellers, even in this economy. Marketplace's Sam Eaton explains why Sesame Street does well even when the economy turns sour.

Sesame Street theme song: Sunny days, sweeping the clouds away . . .

Sam Eaton: In the fleeting world of "it" toys, brands come and go. And that's what makes Sesame Street's four-decade run so remarkable.

Chris Byrne is an independent toy industry analyst:

Chris Byrne: My brothers and I still quote Sesame Street stuff to one another, and we're way out of the target age. So it has that kind of impact generationally now that it becomes an integral part of childhood and shared experience.

Translation: sales. Even during a recession. Byrne says penny pinching shoppers are more likely to choose well-known brands. And as holiday toy sales are expected to drop slightly this year, Sesame Street's $60 "Elmo Live" sold out in many stores.

Byrne says Sesame Street's secret has been its avoidance of what's called "label slapping," where brands are pasted onto any product willing to pay a licensing fee. Instead, he says Sesame Street is intimately involved in every toy that bears its name. And it's paid off.

In Los Angeles, I'm Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

About the author

Sam Eaton is an independent radio and television journalist. His reporting on complex environmental issues from climate change to population growth has taken him all over the United States and the world.


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