The original book, Five on a Treasure Island, was published in 1942, and others in the series soon followed, accompanied by games, birthday cards, stationary and, of course, jigsaws.
The books remain in print, and are still extremely popular, although the cover designs and illustrations have changed over the years. From the print medium, it was inevitable that the Famous 5's exploits would soon transfer onto film, and so it was, with the first feature film appearing in the 1950s, and TV series running in the 1970s and 1990s, complete with the associated annuals:
In marketing, we often talk about a brand becoming part of the culture, and a sure sign of this happening is when the jokes, parodies and T-shirts become part of the social fabric. Who, that was young in the 80s, will ever forget the Comic Strip's Five Go Mad in Dorset?
As brands get long-in-the-tooth, their managers begin to fret: are we keeping up to date? Are we still appealing to today's young generation? Is it enough to change the shorts and long socks of the original illustrations to hoodies and sweat-pants? The text of the books has been subject to a little bit of correction, some of it practical (decimal coinage) and some of it political (tweaking attitudes that are not acceptable today).
As the Famous Five moved into the digital age, a new spin-off cartoon series was created, featuring the 5's offspring, right up-to-date with all the latest technology:
The parodies continue, and anyone that has been in a UK bookshop in the last year or so can't have failed to notice this and the others in the series:
Some brands get terribly huffy about parody and spoof. I don't know if there were any legal battles surrounding Brexit Island and Co. but as an outsider, it's easy to see how this bit of affectionate fun hardly damages the "brand" - rather, it reinforces it. I wouldn't be at all surprised if sales of the original books have taken off again since these take-offs hit the shelves.
Which all brings us nearly up to date. Where are the Famous 5 off for their next adventure? Well, in marketing terms they're doing a bit of a co-operation. Or is it a celebrity endorsement?
Mine's a meat paste sandwich with lashings of ginger beer.