Peanuts Worldwide’s Tim Erickson

Tim Erickson, executive VP of the Peanuts Worldwide brand at WildBrain, speaks to TV Kids about the lead-up to Peanuts’ 75th anniversary in 2025, taking a multigenerational approach to managing the brand and being a lifelong fan of Charles M. Schulz’s best-known creations.

In 1950, a small number of U.S. newspapers introduced a new comic strip from Charles M. Schulz about a circle of young kids, led by the self-deprecating Charlie Brown, and their trusted beagle friend Snoopy. Over the years, through thousands of syndicated comic strips and a raft of beloved seasonal specials, the Peanuts gang has earned the loyalty of millions of fans across the globe. And new ones are being added every day thanks to a range of initiatives from Peanuts Worldwide, the venture owned by WildBrain, Sony Music Entertainment and Schulz’s family. As the executive VP of the Peanuts Worldwide brand at WildBrain, Erickson is tasked with overseeing this enduring property, including the new shows on Apple TV+, the Take Care with Peanuts initiative and retail partnerships across the globe.

***Image***TV KIDS: What most attracted you to taking on oversight of this beloved brand at WildBrain?
ERICKSON: It was a big decision. I see it as an incredible responsibility to the fans and the legacy of Charles M. Schulz. There’s a lot to live up to. I’m a passionate fan. The business has been thriving for years. We’re in our 73rd year. It was really about what’s next for Peanuts. How do we continue to engage fans as we have in a world that’s changing? The origins are from the news­paper. While we still are in syndication around the world, having the comics reprinted, how do we show up on some of these new platforms? Short-form content? YouTube? How do we leverage all the great Apple TV+ content across all these other platforms? How do we bring new fans around the world into the fold? How do we bring new kids into the fold? It’s been interesting to understand how fans worldwide have come to know and love Peanuts. The journey is different depending on where you are in the world. In the U.S., it came to me through a series of different formats—every Sunday, reading the comic strip, and the seasonal specials were a family ritual for us. It was also through products. I still have a grudge—my cousin had the Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine, and I was not getting one. It’s a deep connection, as you can see! We look to markets that are significant in size for us from a fandom perspective but still have a lot of room for growth and opportunity—places like China, where people are coming to know Peanuts in a completely different way.

TV KIDS: Tell us about working with the Schulz family and WildBrain’s L&M and content-development teams to ensure you’re all on the same page about how Peanuts is positioned.
ERICKSON: Everybody wants to deliver the best experience for our fans and to live up to the legacy. We all have the same goal. Then it becomes about the approach. It’s having conversations about the businesses we should be in and the types of stories we’re telling. Much of that has already been figured out, so it’s amplifying key stories Charles Schulz told through the strips. There are almost 18,000 strips. The timeless stories told over all those decades amaze me. So many can be retold in a different format. Snoopy in Space is such an authentic relationship that dates back to the early ’60s with the Apollo program. It’s just as relevant today as it was then. Everybody involved with Peanuts is focused on quality first. If it’s not going to live up to an appropriate quality, we don’t want to do it. There are constructive conversations around the approach. Through the lens of Snoopy’s imagination, would he have thought this versus that? What would Charles Schulz do? You have to try to do your best to interpret. We’re fortunate that both Jean [Schulz’s widow] and Craig [his son] are involved with our business. And then there’s a lot of training that goes on. Every day I learn many new things. The teams are hungry to learn, whether it be at Peanuts Worldwide, the WildBrain team working on content, or Creative Associates [Schulz’s studio] in Santa Rosa. Everybody’s eager to learn and say, what is the most authentic way to tell this story?

TV KIDS: What’s been the L&M approach for all the great new content on Apple TV+?
ERICKSON: Some elements celebrate the content you see on Apple TV+, like The Snoopy Show. There’s a look and feel to that. There’s been an evolution of our character design over the years. Whether it’s through consumer products or experiences or content, it needs to be consistent. The Snoopy Show looks different than the original comic strip. So if we’re doing something that celebrates the original comic strip, it will be all about that. Signage and marketing will be consistent. Then if we’re doing something around The Snoopy Show, and let’s say it’s very kid-targeted, it will look to that with a level of consistency. We have specific style guides and guidelines to ensure that we get that level of consistency.

TV KIDS: How are you maintaining that multigenerational appeal the brand is known for?
ERICKSON: First, we answer a few questions: Should we be in a specific business, and who should we target? Who is making the purchasing decision? What is the aesthetic? What is the storytelling we want to make sure that we’re driving? It’s different for preschool- or kid-targeted programs. As you get into the kids’ space, you start to see psychographics have a huge impact on the direction. For example, if you’re a gamer, there are some similarities within that community. How do we apply our approach to specific interests and ensure we have opportunities inclusive of all of our fans? In many cases, we’ll do things that appeal to an entire family. We spend a lot of time creating those strategies. Hearing back from our fans is critical. And seeing what sells and what doesn’t sell. You learn quickly what your fans like and don’t like.

TV KIDS: The 75th anniversary is coming up in 2025. Can you tease any of the plans for that milestone?
ERICKSON: It will be a celebration of the rich heritage and legacy. We’re still pulling together those plans, but it will go across every aspect of how fans engage with us. So everything from experiences to products to content, marketing, you name it. It’s an opportunity for fans to celebrate what they love about Peanuts. We want to ensure that our approach encompasses all those reasons to engage. It’s still early days.

TV KIDS: What are you hearing from the parents and caregivers of the new fans whose first exposure to Peanuts has been through the Apple TV+ content? What are they responding to?
ERICKSON: Number one, quality storytelling. There are a lot of timeless themes that have always been in Peanuts’ storytelling. We provide inclusive content for everybody to celebrate and enjoy. Space exploration resonates with people. And providing family time. We’ve seen that from the beginning with our holiday specials. We’re still seeing that. We have shows primarily targeted toward kids, though fans of all ages are watching. Then we have other specials that we regularly drop on Apple TV+ that are created for fans of all ages and a great opportunity for families to come together.