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Bird Watch

Re-ruffling Woody Woodpecker's feathers.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the October 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Ha-ha-ha-HA-ha! With this mischievous laugh, Woody Woodpecker first worked his way into the hearts of cartoon lovers everywhere more than 50 years ago. Don't expect to spot any gray in Woody Woodpecker's feathers, however: Thanks to a new fall TV series, this most beloved (and troublemaking) of birds is getting a much-publicized makeover.

Airing on the Fox Kids Network, "The Woody Woodpecker Show" reunites its title character with favorite friends like Chilly Willy, Buzz Buzzard and Wally Walrus. Although we haven't seen pictures of the supporting cast, Woody himself looks a little bit leaner and a little bit slicker.

Not that looks are the only thing that make the bird. Rumor has it, today's Woody is something of a kinder, gentler Woody. He isn't going cold turkey on the troublemaking, however--a bird's gotta have some fun, after all.

Horse Power

Saddling up is in.

Americans are back in the saddle--literally. With a boost from Hollywood (and some of its biggest stars), horseback riding is enjoying surprising popularity among a growing number of city slickers. Stressed-out overachievers, in particular, seem to be tapping into horse power.

"It's a really relaxing thing," says Patti Colbert, executive director of Bertram, Texas-based Horse Industry Alliance (HIA), referring to riding's therapeutic appeal. "The horse is an incredible vehicle to assist [people] in figuring out their problems."

Combine this with the glamorous image of, say, movie star Robert Redford astride a horse in this year's feature film "The Horse Whisperer," and you've got the makings of a trend in full gallop. "Riding lessons, dude ranches [and other staples of Western culture] are experiencing a whole lot of growth right now," observes Colbert. "The heritage of the horse brings out the cowboy wanna-be in a lot of folks."

And not just affluent people, either. Though traditionally an activity for the well-to-do, equestrianship--at least the late-1990s variety--is far more egalitarian in nature. Sure, a lot of city slickers would be hard pressed to purchase (and stable) horses of their own, but riding lessons come fairly cheap. Even the sedentary can saddle up--by collecting model horses, that is. Notes Colbert, "The sales of those things are going through the roof."

According to HIA estimates, roughly one-third of all U.S. households either already ride horses or are interested in doing so. "If folks can just get out and smell the atmosphere, they seem to kind of fall into it," raves Colbert. Alas, few make it look as good as Redford does.


And Big Bird doesn't look a day over 29: The 30th anniversary of the much-beloved "Sesame Street" series looks to make this hot licensing property even hotter with collectible tie-ins . . .

. . . Must-Sell Merchandise: The new fall TV season is only beginning, but the peacock network, NBC, is already making a splash with its licensing of the now-famous "Must See TV" slogan. Getting with the program are lines of apparel, home furnishings, party goods and pet products.

Purple Rein

"L" is for lavender.

The color of Generation X's world is . . . purple? Just when we thought purple's popularity had peaked--say, two years ago--we're spotting new outbreaks of purple rain.

Impressively, trade association Color Marketing Group (CMG) cited four shades of purple in its roundup of hot consumer product colors for 1999. CMG pegged both a lavenderish purple and a brown-tinged purple in its forecast of commercial colors to watch for in 2000.

Youthful, color-enthusiastic Gen Xers are said to be largely responsible for purple's popularity. But if everything from makeup to home accessories are plum pickings, surely more than a few baby boomers are lost in a purple haze as well.

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