Who Wants to Be a Secret Millionaire?

Licensing Hotline: December 23

By Karen Raugust |
Dec 23, 2014

Downtown Bookworks has secured the rights to Secret Millionaires Club, a financial literacy-themed online and TV series starring an animated Warren Buffett, from Genius Brands International. The first book, How to Grow Your Very First Business, will be published in summer 2015, with distribution through Simon & Schuster

“Financial literacy for kids is an important and under-published area,” says Julie Merberg, president of Downtown Bookworks, which is taking a similar approach with this property that it has done with its existing licenses, PBS Kids and DC Comics. “We feel very strongly that there should be an educational component to everything we do, but in a fun way and not heavy-handed.”

GBI’s approach to creating entertainment is similar. “We have a mission to create what we term ‘content with a purpose,’ ” says president Amy Moynihan Heyward. She notes that Secret Millionaires Club “is not about money or about getting rich. It’s about forming healthy habits from a young age.” The forthcoming book, she explains, is based on the 26 lessons Buffett provided as the basis for the franchise, which includes webisodes, half-hour TV episodes airing on Discovery Family, and a business challenge contest in 100,000 schools and after-school programs. “It all goes back to that original content Warren developed for us. It’s down to earth, practical guidance.”

“We’re including the same lessons, but it’s greatly expanded,” Merberg adds. The book will have a value-added component and is interactive, with write-in sections to guide readers as they generate ideas for their own business, assess their strengths, and learn about profit and loss and responsibility. “We’re holding their hands as they learn how to operate a business, which is fun for them and useful later in life.”

The Secret Millionaire's Club online storefront.

GBI is in talks with a retailer about launching Secret Millionaire merchandise in a boutique featuring the book, as well as DVDs from Cinedigm and activity kits from Oriental Trading, at the start of summer 2015. “How to Create Your Very First Business will be the heart of it,” Heyward says. “This is the foundation of a big program that’s building.”

The new book will target a different consumer from Wiley’s Secret Millionaires Club: Warren Buffett’s 26 Secrets to Success in the Business of Life, which is shelved with the business books and is directed at parents and families.