We had the opportunity to interview Nancy McFatter, Founder|President of Kidomo Inc.
Thank you for the privilege and opportunity to share a little bit more about Kidomo with our great partners within the CAFE family. We are proud to be part of an industry which shares the same values, integrity, loyalty, respect and who genuinely cares about one another. We’ve met many great friends over the years and sadly lost some along the way. Our relationships are very special to us and we cherish them deeply.
Please tell us what Kidomo is about? How did Kidomo get started.
Kidomo was launched by my first company, Marketing Specialists; a marketing, promotion and public relations company. We had worked extensively in the children and family markets for almost 20 years. We identified an under developed segment in the Canadian marketing industry, and launched Kidomo, Big Events for Kids and Families.
We had an amazing opportunity to work in tandem with Corus Entertainment as they launched Treehouse TV. We expanded the concept of ‘Treehouse Live’ producing over 30 National Tours since 2000.
We work with multiple broadcasters Treehouse, Family Jr. TVO, Télé-Québec, YTV, CBC, DHX.
One of our many goals is to provide high quality, family entertainment, on a grass roots level, allowing every child an opportunity to see their favourite television characters come to life.
We aligned ourselves with some of the largest and most influential media outlets in Canada. We formed relationships with international partners representing some of the most iconic global brands. We integrated high quality family entertainment, prestigious host venues, media and corporate partners to design and implement programs for Canadian families.
We all had a common goal…put smiles on the faces of children and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Tell us about your role with Kidomo.
I am definitely a true collaborator and visionary. I love bringing parties together and creating something wonderful for families to share. It’s all about the experience. There is something very special about watching a parent, watch their child experience a live event and seeing them so happy. I am very big picture thinking. However, in saying that, I love putting the little pieces together to build the big picture. It has to work for everyone. I am very hands on and am involved in every major decision. We have clients/partners that we have worked in tandem with since the very beginning; I still oversee their programs. Even with our incredibly busy lives, the personal touch is so important. One of my greatest joys is seeing others succeed and mentoring our younger team members. I also take the lead with all of our charity initiatives.
It has been great to have the support of Kidomo at our CAFE Convention and to have you and Richard Noel in attendance. What is his role with Kidomo and how long have you worked together?
The Kidomo management team was strengthened when Richard and I met over 12 years ago. He is Vice President of Kidomo with main responsibilities of Strategic Partner and New Business Development. He is very hands on, with a charismatic personality and is always the first person to offer his help. Richard has strong ethics, moral values and integrity, both personally and professionally which are reflected in all that he does. He is a great presenter and is always looking for new creative strategies to ensure our clients achieve their goals.
Richard comes from a diversified background producing large scale mobile and event marketing programs for over 20 years prior to Kidomo. Programs included NBA 3 on 3 Tournament, CBC Soccer Nation, Ford Ski & Snowboard Tour, Bosch Mobile Tour, GM Visa, Mazda and Campbell’s Campus Tours, and many more.
Richard has hosted the Awards Ceremonies at the CAFE Conference for many years.
What did you do before Kidomo?
My entire adult life I have had my own business. It’s been 35 years and it is actually quite humbling. I have a true entrepreneurial spirit and no matter how hard things are, I never give up. Many of you are or have walked the same path. There are great times and there have also been challenging times. You treat others with respect, dignity, run a business with integrity and even through the rough times, you hold your head high and carry yourself with grace.
My experience in the entertainment industry is diversified and extensive. I had the pleasure of working and gaining experience by touring internationally with well-known artists, learning the business from the ground up. The tours ranged from country artists, to theatrical productions and of course, family entertainment. I toured 9 months out of the year for 6 years in my much younger days; the years to follow averaged 3 months. I also had the great honour of working with the Dick Clark Agency and Willie John Ellison.
I was involved with various charity organizations and donated services to numerous fundraisers in which I would oversee entertainment and PR.
What do you do in your spare time?
I am working very closely with multi award winner Willie John Ellison developing a new young artist, Alisha Grech, who also happens to be my lovely niece. John and I have been friends for 35 years. When he heard Alisha sing for the first time, he said she is ‘A beautiful young artist with a unique voice, incredible passion and crystalline purity.’ Alisha has a naturally beautiful voice which has developed during her training since she was 4 years old. She is presently in her 2nd year at Queens University, is the Artistic Director of Queens Students on Broadway, has just written and directed her first musical and is finishing her first CD. Yes…I am the proud Aunty.
Stay tuned, one day she may be on your mainstage ☺
For those of you who don’t recognize the name, you will the song. Producer, Mentor….Willie John Ellison. In 1967 he wrote ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’, originally written for his first band, Soul Brothers Six. His now-classic R&B song turned rock anthem has been recorded by over 60 artists. Internationally acclaimed, multiple award winner, singer, songwriter, producer, a
50-year career – a talent that has endured and earned a place in music history.
What other sorts of venues/organizations do you work with?
Our national grass roots tours consist of Shopping Centres, Retail Appearances, Exhibitions, Festivals, Fairs, Theme Parks, Consumer Shows and Charity Initiatives. We also produce the character event program at the Toronto Zoo supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, the protection and reproduction of endangered species. We develop and implement programming for Sunwing Resorts in Jamaica, Bahamas, Dominican Republic and Cuba, overseeing character live shows, meet and greets and on site activations. We are proud to have been the exclusive producer of family programming at Ontario Place, Toronto, for 10 consecutive years from 2002-2011, producing over 500 live events per season.
What percentage of your business is represented by the Fair Industry? How long have you been involved with the Fair Industry?
We have been involved with the Fair Industry for over 20 years. Many of our existing host partners are between 10 – 15 years consecutive. About 50 % of our business is within the Fair, Exhibition Industry. We would definitely like to expand it!
What characters/companies do you represent?
Kidomo proudly represents Spin Master (PAW Patrol); PGS Entertainment/Bagdasarian Productions (ALVINNN!!! AND THE CHIPMUNKS); HIT Entertainment Canada (Barbie, Barney, Angelina Ballerina, Bob the Builder, Thomas & Friends, Mike the Knight); Nickelodeon (Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, TMNT, Shimmer & Shine); for marketing, PR initiatives and live events in Canada.
Since June 2016, we have represented PAW Patrol for promotional appearances in association with Canadian Toy Company – Spin Master. The response is overwhelming. We are looking forward to bringing an expanded PAW Patrol program to our host partners in 2017.
We have worked closely with HIT Entertainment Canada for over 15 years, producing 15 national tours, 10 regional/mini tours, numerous special events, DVD, product launches and national charity initiatives since 2001. We were an extension of the HIT Entertainment marketing team in Canada. HIT/Mattel brands include Barbie, Barney, Angelina Ballerina, Bob the Builder, Thomas & Friends.
Kidomo has worked in tandem with Nickelodeon for over 5 years, producing 3 national tours and overseeing character meet & greet programs. Nickelodeon brands include Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants and TMNT. We are excited to launch the 1st national tour of TMNT in 2017.
We worked closely with the Hasbro team for over 15 years, producing 18 Hasbro national tours since 2000. We developed and executed Hasbro programming for many brands within its diverse portfolio including My Little Pony, Play-Doh, Nerf, Simon Swipe, Fur Real Friends, Kreo, Marvel Super Hero’s, Ambassador Support for Fan Expo. We were able to provide on-site activations to our host partners for many years.
Do you have a favourite character? And then why that character?
We have the honour of representing the most iconic and well-known brands globally. Each one is different and special in their own way, as are the teams we are privileged to work closely with. Each brand has a wonderful story, however, if I had to choose one…
I’ll share a very personal story…
In the early 1990’s my father was diagnosed with cancer, he was only 53 years old. I was working with Bagdasarian Productions, The Dick Clark Agency and Sony Music, on tour with ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’. It was one of the most difficult times in my life. I left the tour, moved back to our family home and was fortunate to be in a position to take time off to assist my mother, who is the strongest and most giving woman I know. As a result of the cancer, my father was also paralysed from the waist down. He was so strong and fought a courageous battle, but sadly passed away just shy of his 55th birthday.
I will never forget the heartfelt kindness and support from everyone associated with ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’. When I returned to business, I once again joined the tour. Day after day, I would hear the voices of children as they would cheer, ‘Alvin! Alvin! Alvin!’ You couldn’t help but smile when you would see the excitement on all the tiny little faces and big ones too, as adults reminisced. It was the time of ‘Chipmunks In Low Places’, Alvin and Billy Ray Cyrus singing Achy Breaky Heart; so many wonderful memories. I decided to stay in Canada. ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’ was the first major tour we did in the Canadian market so many years ago. September 26th, 2016, I received a lovely email from PGS Entertainment regarding ‘ALVINNN!!! AND THE CHIPMUNKS’! It was as though life had come full circle; a brand so dear to my heart. We are so excited to be working once again with Bagdasarian Productions, PGS Entertainment and the iconic brand…’ALVINNN!!! AND THE CHIPMUNKS’!
Seeing Kidomo characters interact with audiences must be fun. Is there a particular experience (or contract) that stands out in your mind? Tell us a bit about it.
There are so many amazing moments. However, I remember the first day Richard and I met at a Barney Festival at Ontario Place. The host said ‘moms and dads, I only want to hear from the little people’. ‘Ok kids let’s all sing for Barney…I Love You, You Love Me.’ When I looked at the thousands of little children, some of them on daddy’s shoulders, their little faces the size of cantaloupes, their eyes all lit up and singing their little hearts out. We all had a lump in our throat, parents eyes filled up. I still get goose bumps when I think of that day. It was just one of those moments I will never forget.
What’s the greatest challenge for Kidomo?
I think we are all facing challenges in the industry, however, we all mange to pull each other thru those times. The decline in corporate sponsorship, government funding, economic times and natural disasters, has affected all of our budgets. We work with our host partners through those times to still deliver high quality family entertainment.
Sometimes when people see the brands we represent, they feel that we are out of their financial reach. However, our programs are scalable, we work with small local events to large national tours, routing is a key factor in amortizing costs.
Also, one of our greatest challenges is the use of unlicensed properties, which we will address more in the next segment.
Could you explain the concept of Licensed Characters to our readers, and when an event has crossed the line and illegally infringed on a licensing agreement?
We are so fortunate to work in tandem with amazing Licensors of global brands. By presenting only licensed entertainment, we are maintaining the integrity of the brand as well as the host venue partner.
The Licensor, owner or proprietor of the brand, grants permission to another company, the Licensee, to manufacture, distribute or represent their brand. In our case, we represent the brand and hold the live rights for any grass roots/non-theatrical initiatives. We work with the Licensor and their brand team to develop strategies and programming specifically for the Canadian market. We work with them on every level including costumes, show script, music, voices, set design, production, marketing and PR; hence the shows are true to brand.
We are challenged by companies that offer unlicensed events and create unauthorized costumes. Many times the performers are unprofessional, unscreened and the costumes are terrible. Not only is it unethical, this actually constitutes an illegal act. As a host venue, you are also putting your event at risk of being forwarded a cease and desist from the legal teams of major brands, hence your event being cancelled.
ACCEPT NO IMITATIONS!
Any final comments?
We would like to thank you again for this opportunity. We look forward to many years with CAFE and your wonderful members, who are also our friends. We look forward to a great 2017 Season and reuniting with all of you in Montreal in November.
All the best, Nancy & Richard