Critical Content Makes Playdate With Toy Maker Wham-O, Kicking Off With ‘Slip ‘N Slide Island’ Competition Series


EXCLUSIVE: Critical Content, a leading independent nonfiction production studio, is forming a TV development deal with Wham-O, maker of classic toys like the Frisbee Disc, Hula Hoop and Slip ‘N Slide.

Under the pact, the two companies will develop and create live-action TV content built around Wham-O brands. The first project is a competition series tentatively titled Slip ‘N Slide Island.

The Slip ‘N Slide, a 16-foot-long yellow plastic strip made slick by a line of small water jets once it is hooked up to a garden hose, has been a summertime fixture since making its debut in 1961. In 2020, its 60th year on the market, sales have soared 180% over last year, according to Wham-O, because COVID-19 has forced many public pools, camps and water parks to close.

The series based around the outdoor game is described as “engaging and fun-loving,” with participants going head to head and navigating a series of obstacles designed in the spirit of Wham-O’s creation. Match-ups will take place in oversized chutes, jumps and tunnels, with winners of each installment getting cash prizes and a chance to compete in a grand finale event.

Critical Content, founded in 2015, now has more than 50 projects in production for more than 30 different networks. Reality veteran Tom Forman is the company’s CEO, and Jenny Daly became president of Critical Content Studios in 2018 after Critical Content bought her company, T Group. Earlier this year, the company set a deal with Leah Remini, known for her Emmy-winning A+E reality series Scientology and the Aftermath. In June, TBS announced an order for Celebrity Show-Off, an adaptation of a Korean reality format produced by Critical Content.

Terms of the Wham-O deal were not disclosed. Integrating products into TV series, especially unscripted ones, has been a tried and true way to offset production costs and also make brand messaging more palatable to viewers, who continue to migrate to streaming platforms with lighter ad loads. Wham-O president Todd Richards said the Critical Content relationship would be a boost for the 70-year-old independent company’s portfolio of toys and games.

“Wham-O products have always brought out the best in kids and adults alike and this collaboration with Critical Content is indicative of our desire to elevate these nostalgic brands to the next level,” Richards said. “We couldn’t be more pleased to partner with Tom, Jenny and their teams to bring Slip ‘N Slide to viewers around the globe in a meaningful way and look forward to creating epic content that celebrates our broader portfolio in the months ahead.”

In a joint statement, Forman and Daly added, “Wham-O is synonymous with good times and fun for the whole family and Slip ‘N Slide is one of the most enduring products in their portfolio for good reason. We all have fond memories of our first encounter with a Frisbee disc, a Hula Hoop and a Slip ‘N Slide and have passed that legacy onto our children, and our children’s children. We can’t think of a more uplifting and entertaining inspiration for TV content – all of these brands are immediately recognizable to consumers around the globe and have brought smiles to millions over the years. As we all try to embrace a more optimistic view of the world, we feel privileged to bring the reimagining of these brands to market for a whole new generation of fans.”

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